NFHS alumni hit the stage in 'Smokey Joe's Cafe'

Contributed PhotoThe cast “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” are all alumni from Niagara Falls high schools. They include from left: Audrianna Yates, Styles Dykes, Cara Scott, Katharine Morock, Courtney McCreary, Michele Calabro, Jillian Colucci, James Shank, Erika Stevens, Dennis Wilson, TJ Insana, Earl Bass, Cynthia Jones, Jason Haynes, LaChanelle McClain.

Graduates from as far back as 1985 will return to the stage at Niagara Falls High School this weekend with three performances of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”

The all-alumni cast is the brainchild of Spanish teacher Thomas Vitello, who is hoping that this productionis the beginning of an annual event of alumni productions.  

He came up with the idea after last year’s spring musical at the high school, when a bunch of theater folks got together at Wine on Third after the show. 

“It was a bunch of old friends who used to do shows together and we were just reminiscing about the old days,” he said.

Shortly after that, “Jesus Christ Superstar” was performed live on network TV and texts began flying back and forth between the friends, throwing ideas back and forth to do that play or others like it with an all-alumni cast. 

The next day I went to see Dennis Wilson and said, ‘Let’s start an alumni acting company,” he said.

With the support of School Superintendent Mark Laurrie, the Niagara Proscenium Alumni Players was born, a joint effort of theatre alumni from Niagara Falls High School, LaSalle Senior High School, Trott Vocational High School and our alumni friends from Niagara Catholic High School.

The new theatre company is directed by Wilson and music/vocal directed and produced by Vitello,

The musical is choreographed by Susan Marcolini (current Niagara Street School faculty member), costumed by Mrs. Veronica Murray (current Niagara Falls High School faculty member) and technical directed by Mr. Rich Meranto (LaSalle Senior High School Class of 1985 and current Niagara Falls High School faculty member).

“Smokey Joe’s Cafe” is a musical revue of the song of songwriting team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. They wrote hit songs like “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Love Potion #9,” “Charlie Brown,” “Yakety Yak,” “Stand By Me,” and many other popular tunes. 

Performances are at 7 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday at the Performing Arts Center inside Niagara Falls High School, 4455 Porter Road, Niagara Falls.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office on the nights of the show. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for current students and senior citizens.

The cast includes: 

• Audrianna Yates, NFHS 2007

• Styles Dykes, NFHS 2017

• Cara (Pellow) Scott, NFHS 1993

• Katharine (Sirianni) Morock NFHS 1995

• Courtney McCreary NFHS 2002

• Michele Calabro NFHS 2002

• Jillian (Shank) Colucci, NFHS 2004

• James Shank, NFHS 2001

• Erika Stevens, NFHS 2017

• Dennis Wilson, LSHS 1985

• TJ Insana,NFHS 1989

• Earl Bass, NFHS 2006

• Cynthia (Feagin) Jones, NFHS 1987

• Jason Haynes, NFHS 1994

• LaChanelle (Davis) McClain, NFHS 1993