Musical Starring Students Is the Cat’s Meow

I am well acquainted with the abiding concern that Somers Town Justice Michael McDermott harbors for young people and their families. At his invitation, I have sat as an observer on his bench in the town of Somers. I have watched, with a mix of admiration and amazement, how he deftly and firmly lectures young motorists who stand before him in traffic court to plead to a moving violation summons.

It’s not just about endangering lives—including their own—the paternal judge (with four sons of his own) cautions them. It’s about respect, gratitude and love for parents who work hard to pay bills and who trust that car privileges will not be abused. The defendants may walk into court with head bowed, but those young people who listen closely to Judge McDermott’s wise words leave court with uplifting life lessons to which they can aspire.

What I didn’t know about Judge McDermott is an out-of-court skill that graphically shows a different side of his affinity for young people. One day, as I was visiting him in Yorktown’s town hall, where he recently ended a tenure as town attorney, the judge gave me a copy of a children’s picture book, “The Concert Hall Cats.” The cover reads “Written by Fausta R.L. McDermott & Michael J. McDermott. Illustrated by Joseph A. McDermott.” Fausta is his wife and Joseph one of the couple’s four sons.

Sign Up for E-News

The book tells of a family of cats who reside in the attic of a grand old concert hall. They are befriended and fed by Jimmy the Janitor, who lives in the basement. With movie multiplexes and sprawling malls now the popular destinations in town, audiences for the concert hall have dwindled, and it is about to be replaced by a parking lot. The landlords say that the only chance to save the hall is if all the seats are filled for the final performance. That presents the feline family with a purr-fect opportunity to spring into action!

The story teaches children the importance of culture in society and the need for members of a community to pull together in a time of crisis.

Earlier this month, the McDermotts got to see something that not many authors of any kind are fortunate enough to savor: An adaptation of “The Concert Hall Cats,” with a cast of students, played to an enthusiastic audience on the huge stage at Peekskill Middle School. On hand were parents, educators, creative arts people and city officials, including Peekskill Mayor Andre Rainey and City Manager Richard Leins.

I never had been in that auditorium, with stadium seating providing excellent sight lines, and marveled at its epic amphitheater scale. Even though it was a challenge to hear every word because the students were not miked (most likely because it would have been financially impractical), it didn’t deprive the audience of seeing quite the ambitious performance, complete with live and recorded music, colorful costumes, acrobatic choreography and hand-made scenery.

Judge McDermott and Fausta McDermott are partners in a private law practice. Along with son, Joseph, they all appeared on stage at the curtain call.

The family who wrote about a family of cats was beaming proudly. They were visibly grateful for the unique experience of watching their creation come alive on stage, thanks to the dedication and talent of student performers and performing arts professionals.

Judge McDermott introduced in the audience to several family members after whom, he told the audience, all of the book’s characters were modeled. He said it was an honor that Wilfredo Morel, who is executive director of Arts 10566, considered “The Concert Hall Cats” worthy of a stage adaptation, adding it was “overwhelming” to see the finished product, ending with “From our family to your families, thank you very much.”

The production was directed by veteran Hudson Valley youth arts champion Scarlett Antonia. The lead producer was Arts 10566 (, whose mission is to address the varied interests and needs of Peekskill’s diverse youth community through the arts. Co-producers included Peekskill Middle School, the city of Peekskill and the Peekskill Youth Bureau.

Copies of the book and Arts 10566 T-shirts were sold in the lobby as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization that is one of the jewels of the community for the great work it does. According to its website, Arts 10566 creates “an open community forum where skills and ideas are exchanged, individuals are connected and resources can be used to stabilize, rejuvenate, and unify the city.”

“The Concert Hall Cats” book can be purchased at select bookstores and on

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


America's Pizza Crisis

To me, pizza is the perfect food.

It contains all your major food groups: dairy, vegetables, bread and meat. It needs no alterations, no improvements, no changes. It is perfect in its pristine, glorious incarnation—unless you are in Chicago. I don’t know what the hell that thing is.

But like any good meal, the key to stellar pizza is the recipe and the quality of the ...

A (Burnt) Toast to Love and Marriage, on the Rocks

In its first few moments, sitcom-style comedy “Clever Little Lies” grabs audience attention right away, with one of the most revealing wardrobe changes you’ll ever see on stage. It is done modestly but just provocatively enough to elicit vocal appreciation from amused patrons.

The fast-paced play, starring Richard Kline of TV comedy classic “Three’s ...

A Snowflake for All Seasons

My name is Bruce and I’m a snowflake.

It’s quite the burden to bear.

I trace it to my childhood.

I don’t know what my parents were thinking.

They had a crazy notion to bring me up to not reflexively dislike other people.

So, I don’t know any better.

I don’t begrudge anybody what they have or what they don’t have.

That’s not true.

I ...

The Adventures of Superdog

I was always very impressed that my dog could bark on command and come when I called his name, until I read in the newspaper about a dog that saved his owner’s life by calling 9-1-1. Apparently, when his owner had a seizure, the dog pushed a speed-dial button for 9-1-1, barked into the receiver for help, and then opened the door when the responders arrived.

Honestly, though, it’s ...

Monty, the Magnificent

Not to brag, but our dog Monty is pedigree royalty. Yes, he’s like the Prince of Pooches, the Duke of Doggies, the King of Canines… well, you get the idea.

Monty comes from a long line of Retriever blueblood. His mother, father, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers are all champion show dogs with enough medals and ribbons to make Lassie woof with envy. While his lineage is ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, July 25, 7:30 PM

Carmel Cinema 8, Carmel

Screening: “Suicide: The Ripple Effect”

Health & Wellness


Sat, July 28, 10:00 AM

Hubbard Lodge, Cold Spring

PCDOH Free Rabies Clinic

Health & Wellness

Fri, August 3, 9:45 AM

Carmel Fire Department, Carmel

2018 Big Latch On

Health & Wellness