Night & Day — No holiday season would be complete without the traditional Holiday Pops performance at Kleinhans Music Hall with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. The BPO has strong ties to Niagara County because of their association with Artpark, but this year’s Holiday Pops show will showcase a famous Broadway star who attended Niagara University and a local high school’s choir, the Barker High School Chorus to be exact.
The aforementioned Broadway star is no stranger to the area, or the BPO, Michele Ragusa, who thrilled audiences with her stellar performance at Artpark this summer for their 40th anniversary concert, returns to Kleinhans for the second time this year, in May she starred in a production of “Kiss Me Kate.”
Ragusa and the BPO are a marriage made in heaven, a local treasure combined with the homecoming of a Buffalo native whose star lights up Broadway. In spite of her success in the Big Apple, Ragusa still loves the area where it first began, and traces her remarkable career right back to Western New York.
“When I was in high school at Holy Angels Academy, I did the musicals and got a taste of the stage there, but when it came time to go to college I was not sure what I wanted to do so I decided on business, accounting, typing or whatever. Erie Community College seemed like a good choice and it was affordable,” Ragusa recalled during a recent phone interview.
While on the campus of ECC, Ragusa spotted a notice for a production of “Godspell.” She landed a role and began appearing in other shows at ECC. Her talent did not go unnoticed, and faculty members at ECC suggested she consider a career in the theater. After some prodding, Michele decided to check out the theater department at Niagara University.