SOMERVILLE, NJ -- The curtain went up on Immaculata High School's new state-of-the art theater this week with a blessing and dedication ceremony.
The Immaculata Theater was made possible by community support of the recent Capital Campaign, Preserving Tradition, Preparing for the Future. Invited guests included generous donors, parents, alumni and school faculty and administration.
Built in 1962, the theater went through a major renovation over several months this year to make it one of the most prestigious school theaters in the area. The stage area was extended, a subterranean orchestra pit was built, cutting edge lighting and sound systems were installed, and a new heating and air conditioning system was added. Among the many upgrades were cushioned fabric seating, carpeting, curtains, access doors, and stage performance surfaces.
On hand to welcome the guests were Principal Jean Kline, School Director Msgr. Seamus Brennan, Director of Catholic Identity and school Chaplain Fr. Mauricio Tabera, Business Manager Lori Quinn, and Music Department Chairperson Ed Webber. Msgr Brennan formally blessed the theater, after he and Fr. Mauricio led the guests in prayer. The theme of all presentations was gratitude to the benefactors, who made the new theater possible, as well as key people who shepherded the entire project.
Special thanks were extended to Stephen Kowalski ’92 and Alexa McCartney Ortiz ’03 of SEK Architects of Basking Ridge. Kowalski was instrumental in conceptualizing the changes, despite room limitations. Kevin d’Anunciacao of Image LLC of Branchburg as Senior Project Manager brought the designs to life, creating the new theater while school was in full session and meeting the challenges of working with an established structure.
Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the evening was the performance of the Immaculata students. The orchestra in the new pit area played the Star-Spangled Banner, the Alma Mater, and selections from Wicked, while the chorus provided the accompaniment. The audience cheered when it was announced that the first school production, slated to debut in the new surroundings this March, will be "Shrek, the Musical."
“Dreaming about and planning for this theater renovation involved the dedication of so many,” Webber said. “Standing on stage to get an overview of what we can now offer our students as performers and technicians is inspiring to me as an educator. With their talent and commitment, these music students deserve an amazing performance arena and now we are proud to say that we have the best in the area.”