‘We need this:’ Fundraiser puts Shelton students back on stage

SHELTON — Two years ago, the Shelton High Drama Club had captivated the community with its performance of Chicago, grabbing the prestigious Sondheim Award in the process.

Fast forward to today, with the disruption from the pandemic and the club is rebuilding — down to 45 students compared to the usual 100 to 150 each year — after two years without its signature spring musical.

But the optimism remains as the club is preparing to present its annual Adaptations musical revue, the key fundraiser behind what the club believes will be the return of a spring musical in 2022.

“To have COVID deny them the chance to take the stage for so long … it’s been heartbreaking,” said Joe Sedlock, the club’s advisor. “I am so thrilled for the kids to be involved again. They all have become like one huge family, all cheering for each other, appreciating each other’s talent.

“It is so much fun to see high school kids do what they love,” said a smiling Sedlock, as he sat back in the Shelton High auditorium Monday watching the freshmen rehearse on the auditorium stage.

Adaptations will run on Dec. 16, 17 and 18. Each show starts at 7 p.m. at Shelton High. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at the high school.

There will be three performances, 30 to 40 minutes in length. Normally each grade has a performance, but Sedlock said the sophomores and juniors were combined this year because of the limited number of performers in each grade.

Freshmen will perform an adaptation of The Next Four Years; sophomores and juniors will do Bratz, and the seniors, with no male performers this year, will present Girls Night Out.

“I love doing it,” senior Alexandra D’Amico, a club member for four years, said about Adaptations. “The last couple years, with COVID, it was rough with no spring musical. Last year we did Adaptations in the spring … that made up for it. We really need this.”

Funds raised through ticket sales, concessions and raffles at Adaptations help defray costs from the spring musical, which can run as much as $35,000 - and that is with parents and community members volunteering time building sets and setting for the multi-night event.

“This gives everyone the opportunity for everyone to see what drama club is really about … hopefully it inspires them to audition, to come out and join,” senior Emma D’Amico said.

Emma said what drew her into the club was the friendly environment, with students from different grades putting their baggage at the door and coming together with other performers in what has become one large family.

“There’s a real sense of community,” fellow senior and four-year club member Katie Daxner said.

She said the difference with Adaptations is it has a looser feel, more fun as opposed to the rigorous rehearsals and training that comes with the spring musicals.

“It is such a long-standing tradition … it’s so much fun,” Daxter said. “At the rehearsals, everyone becomes such close friends. The performances are fun, so high energy, the audience gets so into it. You know you are up there inspiring the younger classes to do this. Feels like long standing tradition."

“This is a chance to be with people who share your same passion,” added senior Aine Saranich. “You make memories that last a lifetime and friendships that will last a lifetime.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com