“With a song on our lips and a prayer in our hearts help us to make just one person in the auditorium happy tonight… Break Legs!”
The prayer above, which is recited by the SGS Players before every show, opened the 3rd annual Alumni Cabaret held at Sampson G. Smith Intermediate School on Saturday, June 3. Twenty-five SGS alumni, 35 of this year’s Peter Pan Jr. cast, and parents joined forces to present an amazing evening of talent to raise money towards the Kevin J. Maskall Memorial Scholarship.
Kevin Maskall, who passed away in 2014, was an inaugural member of the SGS Players, playing Daddy Warbucks in Annie. According to SGS Players director, Terri Seggio, “we were very lucky to have Kevin’s contagious smile, kind heart, and talent grace for our first production of Annie so many years ago.” Kevin’s father, Jeff Maskall, has volunteered his time as stage manager for countless theater productions at SGS and Franklin Middle School. The scholarship is presented to deserving Franklin High School seniors who have participated in performances at each of the Franklin Township schools.
Andrew Russionello, who passed away in August 2016, was also honored and remembered by his many friends and former castmates. He shared his smiles and talent with many during his time in Franklin.
Sarena Shah, a Franklin High School graduate, served as Mistress of Ceremonies. The show opened to an audience of 150 with an adapted version of Hairspray’s “The Nicest Kids in Town” featuring all show participants. Cyprianni Stewart, Alexandra Parrone, CJ Carter and Kristen Seggio were among those performing songs from many genres. Among the duets shared was an especially emotional “You Walk With Me”, sung by mother-daughter pair Emily and Dari Russionello. While still healing from their own loss, they dedicated the song to the Maskall family.
The second act kicked off with a performance of “The Elegant Captain Hook” by the Peter Pan Jr. cast followed by more solos. Two-second act skits got the audience laughing, including an adapted version of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First” performed by Christopher Rice and Joseph Roche. Final acts demonstrated the incredible talent of Franklin alumna CJ Carter and Kristen Seggio,.
Following the performances, Terri Seggio thanked musical director Mr. Noel Piercy for his assistance, and shared that she was ”in awe of every single performer”. She then introduced members of the SGS Alumni Parent Association, without whom the night could not have been possible. The night culminated in the awarding of 4 scholarships to Franklin High School students Clarissa Vickerie, Brendan Benson, Heather Pleus and Matthew Threadgill.
Jeff Maskall received a standing ovation as he approached the stage to thank everyone for honoring the memory of his son. Maskall shared that when Kevin came home and announced that he had the role of Daddy Warbucks, “I didn’t know he had an ounce of theater in him, but that was just the beginning of the story.“ He went on to share that “there are a lot of memories here…and it’s not about the set pieces and the props, it’s about the over thousand children that I’ve had the honor and privilege to work with over the last 12 years here on the SGS stage. (Kevin’s) legacy is that I’m here… and I’ll never go away”.
Maskall closed by saying that every time he comes to the SGS auditorium, he thinks of Kevin, as well as Andrew, “two young men who graced this stage, who left the physical world much too early…but we know that we have our two angels in the theater that will always be with us”. He closed by asking all parents in the audience to please go home and “give your children an extra hug and an extra kiss and tell them that you love them”.
Stay tuned for next year’s Alumni Cabaret date. It’s one of the best shows in Franklin!
If you could not make it out to see the show, and want to help you can make out a check to SGS Players Alumni Association and mail to Alumni Association c/o SGS PTSO 1649 Amwell Road, Somerset NJ 08873.
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