PJPII Does it Again with the Rhapsodies' "The Magic of Music"

Kelly Thunstrom, local book and theater reviewer, attended opening night of Pope John Paul II High School's "The Magic of Music."

I had the pleasure of attending opening night of Pope John Paul II High School's "The Magic of Music." This is the third musical-type performance I've attended there, and may I dare say that the arts program is almost second to none. Featuring over 70 students in the cast and crew, directed by Mrs. Marusia Griffin Lynn and musical director Mrs. Eleanor Griffin, and helped by a whole team of assistants and parents, "The Magic of Music" is an awesome effort. Rehearsals have been ongoing since late summer, so you know you'll be in for a treat.

The performers, otherwise known as The Rhapsodies,  do not just stand around and sing the whole time; there is choreography for almost every song (also done by Mrs. Lynn), with constant rotations around and on and off the stage. Special lighting, effects, and costumes also play an integral part in the whole musical picture.

The opening number, "I Got A Feeling", sets the high energy tone for the night. The audience is then treated to a medley from Grease, with "We Go Together" highlighting the whole company. The "Webber Love Trio", featuring Mia Borrelli, Maryrose Santangelo, and Jackie Smith, gave me chills and found myself shaking my head with astonishment that these voices were coming from high school students.

The longest part of the show was the 100 Years of Broadway segment, with snippets from various musicals from The Great White Way over the years. The surprise tap dance in "I've Got Rhythm" just goes to illustrate how PJPII goes above and beyond. "If I Loved You", featuring Jeff Chernesky, Smith, and the Premiers, the absolutely beautiful "Memory", with Borelli, Rosanella Badalamenti, Angela Martelli, Santangelo, and Smith, and the choreography of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (please forgive me if I misspelled that) were other highlights. I can't think of a better way to end the first act than with a rousing rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner", sung by the Premiers and conducted by Smith.

The second act begins with The Rhapsodies signature number, "Don't Stop Believin'", with some alumni even joining in on the fun on stage. The Pop segment featured current and older tunes, such as fun Jackson 5 numbers with Tyler Costello, and a series by Adele, with the wonderful dancing of Franchesca Janvier, Badalamenti, Brad Dalton, Cara James, and Brian McCluskey. "You Raise Me Up", with solos by Dalton and Maggie Pellegrino (on violin), was a great way to end that part of the show.

The last part got everyone in the Christmas spirit! "Dance of the Reed Flutes", with a ballet done by James, is gorgeous, and of course, we end with "White Chrismas", complete with piped-in snow. What more could the audience ask for?

"The Magic of Music" continues at Pope John Paul II High School on Saturday, November 17 at 7:00 PM and Sunday, November 18 at 5:00 PM.




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