Bravo to HMS’s Bugsy Malone

submitted by Maureen Gillum

The principals of HMS’ Bugsy Malone

Three packed audiences thrilled at Hudson Memorial School’s third annual musical, performed April 16-18, under the dedicated direction of the HMS music department — “Mrs. D” (Diane Destrempe) and her “S-men” (Rob Scagnelli and Mike Seckla).  Bugsy Malone, originally a 1976 musical film based loosely on gangster events in Chicago during the 1920s prohibition era, has swept stages for more than three decades as a comedic tongue-in-cheek “gangsta” musical.

“This was a challenging show from the start,” admitted Mrs. D, “but the hard work and collaboration of this huge cast and crew really paid off in the end.”

Act I featured a young and broke city slicker, Bugsy Malone (Nick Iannaco), pursuing a pretty singer, Blousy Brown (Amanda Arnoff), from the popular local speakeasy, Fat Sam’s Grand Slam.  When Blousy confides her dream to go to Hollywood to make it big, Bugsy schemes to get them there, but encounters delays.  Meanwhile, the long-time gang rivalry — between the feuding Fat Sam (Sam Bernstein) and Dandy Dan (Andrew Kraemer) — escalates until Dan’s gang “splurges” nearly all of Sam’s boys and destroys his sarsaparilla empire.  Gracing Fat Sam’s are the lovely silver flapper Grand Slam Singers; would-be-star, Fizzy (Christina Guessferd), pushing a broom while awaiting her big break “tomorrow;” and the effervescent diva Lena (Samantha Weis), who commanded center stage with “show business.”

Bugsy Malone Act II opened with a sultry solo by the tempestuous Tallulah (Samantha Migneault) in her signature red dress.  Soon, a new pal of Bugsy’s enters the scene, big Leroy Smith (Grant Hodgkins), to hone his boxing skills at Cagey Joe’s (Matt Migneault) gym; shortly after, they witness a secret delivery of splurge guns at dock 17 and help themselves with plans to assist Sam and avenge Dan.  All the while, dim-witted police Captain Smolsky (Jack Thyne) and his sidekick O’Dreary (Cody Lenzi) trail the gangsters, including Knuckles (Kendra Griffiths) and Bronx Charlie (Sarah Merrill).  In the end, when Dandy Dan and his gang come into Fat Sam’s for a surprise attack, Fat Sam, Bugsy and company are ready.  In the fun and chaotic finale ala silly string, Bugsy finally reunites with Blousy and they all learn it is better to “give a little love and it all it comes back to you.”

In a real ensemble effort, more than 100 HMS students brought Bugsy Malone brilliantly to life.  “This is really all about the kids and their amazing talents and efforts; there isn’t even an adult allowed back stage during our performances,” emphasized Scagnelli proudly.

Those watching also gave the HMS musical rave reviews.  A Hills Garrison fifth grader who saw the first show enthusiastically shared, “This was awesome.  I’m coming back to see it again tomorrow night!”  Another fan who saw all three performances ardently commented, “It just got better each time!”

Complementing the HMS players were also the aptitudes of many off-stage, including some HMS alumnae and Class Act students from Alvirne.  Impressive choreographic guidance came from Ashley Iannaco and Amanda Weis.  Marvelous set designs were created by HMS Art teacher Jan Walsh, and dozens of back-stage artists.  Nottingham West’s Kirsten Mohring and HMS’ Tara and Heather Hardy supported HMS music in a live pit orchestra.  Sound (Mike O’Keefe, Chris Kraemer), lighting (Erin Hebert, Henry Scafidi), and stage management (Kelly Foley, Amanda Weis, Lauren Kraemer) were all adeptly handled.  Unseen and irreplaceable were many parent volunteers who managed much of details, including costumes, props, Bugsy bulletins, tickets, and concessions — most especially the principal HMS Drama Mamas Sue Weis, Carol Iannaco, and Deb Migneault.

Bravo to the cast and crew of Bugsy Malone — and everyone who supported it — who made this year’s fabulous HMS musical another huge community success!

The 100-plus cast and crew of HMS’ Bugsy Malone

Alvirne Students Build Home for Charity

by Tim Mahoney

Darryl Benson (Specialty Kitchens) steps out of the modular home.

The halls of Alvirne High School are mostly silent during class time.  But the Building Trades workshop is another story — the sounds of power tools whirring, hammers banging, and classic rock playing on the radio fill the room.

The class is a two-year program meant to teach students the basics of the construction trade.  Most students spend their time building modular sheds or doing repairs around the campus, but this year, in conjunction with the charity group ‘There’s No Place Like Home’, the class has built an entire modular home to be donated to a family in Bennington who lost their house to flooding.

On April 15, Specialty Kitchens of Hudson arrived at the workshop to donate and help install kitchen and bathroom cabinets and fixtures.

“They’ve been great in really stepping right up to the plate,” said John Conrad, the Building Trades instructor.  “Its organizations and businesses like that that really help out and really make stuff like this happen.”

Specialty Kitchens got involved with the project through the Rotary Club and asked Conrad how they could help.  In addition to donating the materials, they also helped the class with the design and installation processes.

“I told them we had a kitchen and bathroom that we needed cabinets for, and they jumped right up, stepped right up to the plate, and they took it from there,” said Conrad.  “[They] designed a kitchen with the kids.  The kids picked the cabinets and the countertops with them, and they went out and got some great prices for us.  Now they have gentlemen in here working with the kids to help install the kitchen.”

There’s No Place Like Home is a non-profit, faith-based organization started in 2006 by Grace Community Church in Rochester.  After seeing the damage of Hurricane Katrina, members of the church reached out to Somersworth Building Trades students to build their first modular home, and the organization was born.  Since then, other schools have gotten involved, including Laconia High School, Pinkerton Academy, and Alvirne.

“They find families in need of homes that have been ruined by natural disasters,” said Conrad.  “We got elected as one of the schools to help build the house for the family, and that’s what the kids have been doing here.  It’s been about a year-long project right now.  In the next month it’s going to be completed, and we’re gonna be shipping it out, and the family’s gonna receive a home.”

Conrad also stressed that no money from the school district went into the project.

“It’s not costing us anything from our budget.  It’s all donated,” he said.  “We don’t buy a thing.  If we need something for them, we get in touch with No Place Like Home, and they get us the material to do what we need to do.”

The project is unlike the average high school course work, and this was reflected in the attitudes and efforts of the students.

“The kids get excited about it because they realize they’re helping a family, and they’re working, they’re building a home,” said Conrad.  “It’s nearing the end now.  By the end of the school year here, the house is going to be up there and set on the foundation, and the people are going to have a house back.”

Darryl Benson (Specialty Kitchens), Shelby Scully, Nick Bernabeo

Budget Details Explained

by Lynne Ober

Neal Kurk talked to a standing-room-only audience.

It was standing room only at Hudson Hills House on Saturday morning as State Representative Neal Kurk explained the current state of the Governor’s budget, which passed the House on a party line vote.  Many people wanted to hear about the details and ask about the new taxes.

Kurk, who has served for years on the House Finance Committee, gave an informative and interesting talk on the current state of the budget.  He explained that the budget is much higher than two years ago, but still leaves a number of areas without funding.  One of those areas is school construction aid, which the Governor wanted to bond, but the Public Works Committee said “No, put it back in the budget where it has been for years.”

Kurk also talked about the deletion of the state aid to towns and what impact that would have on local property tax rates.  Despite the fact that the House Finance Committee replaced much of the lost revenue to towns from the meals and rooms tax, other areas were still cut and that means that towns will need to raise revenues through property taxes to cover the loss of that aid.

There are a significant number of new taxes proposed and passed by the House.  As Kurk explained, these taxes were needed to cover spending.  Kurk quoted Majority Floor Leader Dan Eaton, who said, “If I know that it makes sense to know how much you’re spending before you decide how much money to raise, …” and then commented that the biggest difference between the democratic and republican approach to the budget this year was found in that statement.  “Republicans thought we should figure out how much money we had and then do a budget to spend that money, and the democrats thought we should decide how much to spend and then raise taxes.”

Kurk talked about the Republican version of the budget, which decreased spending by 1.6 percent, and raised no new taxes.

“We thought that with the recession we should not be placing more tax burden on our residents.  Yes, the budget cuts would have hurt, and the state, like other employers, would have had to decrease its workforce, but how many more taxes can we each afford?”

Kurk answered audience questions.  Refreshments were served.

Health and Wellness Fair

by Lynne Ober

Ken Pedersen gets his eyes checked as Linda Plotnik recorded the results.

Everyone knows there is a need to eat healthy, exercise, and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  Last weekend attendees at the Litchfield School District’s ‘Health and Wellness Fair’ held at Campbell High School found out just how easy that can be.

Food Director Hilda Lawrence and the Rotary Club joined forces to show how tasty a healthy diet can be.  In the café, healthy pizza with wheat crust, vine-ripened tomato sauce, and low-fat cheese was as tasty as any pizza you’ve ever eaten.  Pair it with a salad and some fresh fruit, compliments of the Rotary, and you have a complete, tasty, and healthy meal.

But that wasn’t the only food to tempt your tastebuds.  Stonyfield Yogurt and the Dairy Council also offered healthy and delicious snacks.

Litchfield Fire Department, Red Cross, and DARE were on hand to talk to families and provide health information.  The Litchfield Lions offered free vision screening, skin analysis, feet check-ups, parenting tips, and dentistry tips.  There was something for everyone.

The café was also the site for line dancing — a fun way to exercise and enjoy friendship.  There were Tai Chi demonstrations and karate demonstrations.  It was clear that exercising can be fun.

Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler, who could be this year’s poster child for making a commitment to healthy living and who knows first-hand the benefits of changing a diet and exercising, was all smiles as the halls filled with interested participants.

There were raffles for Red Sox box seats, bowling at Leda Lanes, gift certificates to Barnes and Noble, tickets to Apple Tree cinema, gift certificates to My Gym Fitness, plus Romano’s Pizza and Nado Subs.

As the Raiders Run finished, runners were treated to a lunch of salad and healthy pizza.

Student Takes Non-Functioning BB Gun to School

by Lynne Ober

Every spring as the weather warms, some students allow spring fever to blossom to an unacceptable level of behavior.  School districts cope with heightened student absenteeism, student bomb threats with no bombs at schools, plus other unacceptable behaviors.  Hudson school district is not immune to such incidents.

Recently a Nottingham West student decided to take his non-functioning BB gun to school.  On the bus he made threatening remarks to another student, and then at school he showed his BB gun to several other students.  Administration took swift action and the student was sent home.

According to Hudson Superintendent Randy Bell, the district took suitable disciplinary action.

“We followed state law and school district policies in handling this incident.  While I cannot release the details, I can say that the student has received an appropriate level of discipline.”

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