SHA Takes on Leader of the Pack for This Year’s Musical

Main characters of Leader of the Pack.

This year the annual SHAmusical will be Leader of the Pack, which follows the remarkable true story of songwriter Ellie Greenwich and the path she trailblazed in the music industry of the 1960s with her revolutionary doo-wop sounds. Unfortunately, her rise to fame was not an entirely smooth journey, as heartbreak proved to be a difficult obstacle to overcome, but with the support of her mother and friends, Ellie still managed to take her funky rhythms to the top of the charts.

Cast and crew of Leader of the Pack.

Senior Samantha Dorsi describes her role as Ellie Greenwich an inspirational role model, as she was brave enough to pursue her dreams and “despite not being taken seriously at first, she transcends the times and becomes one of the most renowned songwriters and [pioneers] a new era of music.” Along with the themes of self-determination and female empowerment is an equally important theme of the importance of sisterhood. These are just some of the reasons why Mrs. Mary Lee Delaney, the SHAmusical director of 15 years, decided that Leader of the Pack would be a perfect fit for SHA this year. Another major reason was that this musical truly brings joy to the audience, so much so that Mrs. Delaney warns us to “be ready to sing along and dance in the aisles!” Sophomore Kelsey Rice, who plays Darlene Love, echoes a similar sentiment when she claims that people should look forward to the singing and dancing most when they come to see the musical on stage “since [it] has so many songs that are so creative and different in sound and song type.” Surely this jukebox musical will strike the right note with all members of the audience as it features both upbeat tempos and catchy lyrics, with hit-songs like “Chapel of Love,” “Be My Baby,” “Da Doo Ron Ron,” and “Leader of the Pack.”

Members of the cast and crew of Leader of the Pack posing with 45 record props.

However, it is important to appreciate the fact that the seamless performances audiences will enjoy at the Shubert Theater (New Haven) in November are the result of the combined effort of so many different people over the course of several months. In the words of Mrs. Delaney, “the Musical is the ultimate group project!” This whole process started last June with the auditions, in which over 100 SHA students became part of the cast, later to be joined by additional male actors from 12 different local high schools and about 100 more SHA girls serving as part of the crew. Over the summer, the cast spent time researching the time period of beehives and 45s as well as familiarizing themselves with the play’s soundtrack. Once school begins towards the end of August, three to four hour-long rehearsals are held four times a week. These rehearsals are then held every day in the two weeks leading up to the final performances on stage. One of the most remarkable aspects of this whole process, though, is that the SHAmusical team practices primarily on school grounds, which means they only have three days to recreate the entire show at the Shubert. Understandably, as a result of the tremendous amount of time and effort that is put into the musical each year, many participants would agree with Kelsey Rice’s statement that she had formed “long lasting friendships … with upper and lower classmen.”

Rehearsal of the opening scene of the musical.

In addition to the talented cast and crew there are also a whole host of other key figures (the majority of whom are SHA faculty members) that help to bring this performance to life. Alongside director Mrs. Delaney is producer Coach Curbow, and together they make up the dynamic duo that really are at the helm of this incredible production. The SHAmusical team is also honored to work with Mr. Matt Durland (professional music director), an orchestra comprised of 11 professional musicians, Janet Gambardella Bracale (award-winning choreographer and SHA alum of the class of 1977), and the Shubert Theater. There are also instrumental faculty and staff members that serve as crew chiefs. These include: Mrs. DelVecchio (paint crew and set design), Mrs. Badore and Mrs. Brownell (costume crew), Ms. Tubis and Coach Ceneri (stage crew), Dr. Christophy and Sr. Lisa (lighting crew), Sr. Judith Musco (sound crew), Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Rybacki (prop creation), Mrs. Fink (hair and makeup), Ms. Papa (film making), Mrs. Cozzi and Mrs. Tracz (hospitality committee), Mrs. Raynis (Young Alum crew), and Ms. Hayes (ad book design). This is not to mention all the other members of the SHA community and local areas that support the musical by sharing their talents and time in other ways, such as contributing to the Ad Campaign or attending the performances.

7 members of the cast of Leader of the Pack after performing a number from the musical for the Annual Talent Show at the Durham Fair.

So for anyone looking for something fun to do, come down to the Shubert to see Leader of the Pack on Friday, November 9th at 8 p.m. or on Saturday, November 10th at either 2 p.m. or 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through SHA’s library or the Shubert Box Office. Not only is it a great way to honor all the hard work that the entire SHAmusical team puts into the performance, but also, in the words of Samantha Dorsi, it is guaranteed to be “a great evening full of dancing and singing!” Best of luck to the SHAmusical team as they continue to prepare for their final performances at the Shubert, and we all cannot wait to watch this amazing production on stage!

Cast and crew of Leader of the Pack.