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‘Spirit of Broadway’: 25 Years For St. Kilian’s Players

This year St. Kilian Players celebrate their 25th anniversary with a show different from the Players’ traditional Broadway musicals, yet filled with the same enthusiasm and entertainment. The Players began in 1988 when Fr. Chuck Romano arrived and conceived the idea of community theatre in the parish. Fr. Chuck discussed his idea of 25 years ago that is the same idea that exists today.

According to Fr. Chuck, “It is amazing that the group has survived and thrived; it is a credit to the group’s commitment, the parish’s support and the belief in what it all was about when we started. It was the idea of a theatre group open to people of all faiths working together sharing their time and talents to entertain audiences. We wanted to put on a good show and in the process have a spirit of giving, not getting. It is the ‘We, not I, mentality.’ Friendships and marriages happened. Children have grown up following in their parents’ footsteps. People have become better in their own self-awareness and confidence in their abilities. A real community spirit has developed and has been sustained for 25 years. Each year different talents emerge.”

Fr. Chuck recalled the beginning musical director, Pat Margulies, and how various musicians, choreographers and directors since then have contributed to the overall product. When one wasn’t a real strength, it didn’t hold back the show.

According to Fr. Chuck, “A parish is a great place to bring about community theatre because it has such a cross section of people. People just need to be tapped, invited and supported. I recognized that there is fertile ground in any parish. I knew it exists everywhere especially in a big parish like St. Kilian’s.”

This year’s show is co-directed by Brian McKenna and Nora Bardak who have been cast members of St. Kilian shows since the inception. With St. Kilian experience and understanding of the Players’ history, McKenna and Bardak chose a different direction to celebrate the 25th anniversary.

According to McKenna, “This year’s production will include songs from Broadway shows that the Players are traditionally unable to do because of casting limitations or other musical or dance challenges that make certain shows less than ideal for a parish performance. This year’s revue includes songs from a variety of Broadway shows.”  

Some musical numbers include “I Got Plenty of Nothin,” “Corner of the Sky,” “Seasons of Love,” “I Won’t Grow Up,” “Mack the Knife,” and “Happiness.”

Bardak said, “Collaboration has been phenomenal. Co-directors, choreographers and musical arrangers have had the freedom to re-imagine Broadway numbers in a different format from their original Broadway settings.”

The thread is the WSKP Radio show with Fr. Chuck Romano as the host who introduces each song and takes some surprise call-in requests. St. Kilian Pastor, Monsignor Flynn, a supporter of the Players, may lend his voice in this year’s production. Although many cast members are under 30 years old, the 60-person cast and crew is from eight to 80 years of age.

Margaret Barrett, a 25-year St. Kilian performer and frequent show producer, reflected, “We used to be the young kids. Now our children are the young kids.  It’s great seeing people come back because it’s fun. Even with the challenges of teaching amateurs, people who don’t read music or people who have little experience acting, it’s a labor of love. People help each other constantly.”

Tickets are on sale at the rectory and at the door for $12. Opening night is Saturday, July 28 at 8 p.m. with other shows July 29 at 3 p.m., Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 5 at 3 p.m. Nora Bardak hopes that many people will be interested in hearing tunes from Les Miserables, Wicked, Hairspray, Phantom of the Opera, Memphis, Miss Saigon, Chicago, and others for a most enjoyable performance in St. Kilian’s air-conditioned auditorium at 50 Cherry Street in Farmingdale.