Newsletter – February 2011


Tri-School Theater Arts Recognition and Support

February 2011
Mercy High School
Mercy High School
In This Issue
Introducing TRISTARS
Summer Cabaret Success
Into the Woods Update
Beauty and the Beast Costumes
The Gypsy Robe
Tri-School Productions Alumni- Stay in Touch!
Dear Tri-Star Member,

In an attempt to keep our current TRISTARS members and tri-school students up to date on theater arts news and needs while also trying to relocate and reinvolve our past alumni, we are bringing to you our first ever TRISTARS Newsletter. We hope that this newsletter finds you well and that you take the time to learn about the many new things that are happening within the tri-school theater arts world!  If you should have any questions and/or comments for us, please contact Maddie Taylor at


your TRISTARS team

Introducing TRISTARS



  Since 1990, Tri-School Productions has been staging some of the finest musical theater on the Peninsula.  The support of administration and faculty from Mercy, Notre Dame and Serra make it possible to provide this experience for our talented students, as actors, musicians, and technical crew members.  Prior to 2007, although the theater productions at Serra included students from all three schools, we were not recognized as a production company, per se.  In 2007, the Tri-School Steering Committee approved Tri-School Productions as a year-round performing arts company.  As a result, all of our fall plays and spring musicals are under the Tri-School Productions banner.



     All successful extracurricular school programs have a well-organized support group. Tri-School Theater Arts Recognition and Support or TRISTARS is a group of faculty, parents, alumni, alumni parents and members of the community with an interest in the performing arts, specifically the support of Tri-School Productions (Mercy, Notre Dame and Junipero Serra High Schools).  This new organization provides a channel for communication about current endeavors, aims keep alumni in touch with the program and each other, as well as to organize the community’s resources. Now in our second year, our leaders include:


Executive Leadership Team

President: Phil Golding (S ’05)                     

Vice President: Mikie Giusti, current parent

Secretary: Madison Jordan Taylor (NDB ’04)

Treasurer: Karin Odasz, current parent       


Committee Chairs

Public Relations: Rosie Issel & Linda Hayward, alumni parents

Alumni Relations: A.J. Diggins (S ’07)

Database Compilation: Madison Jordan Taylor (NDB ’04)                                                

Historian: Pat Zurcher, current parent


     As alumni and alumni parents hear about TRISTARS they have asked how to get involved, whether just wanting to receive communications or to actively assist with their time and talent.  TRISTARS is the organization that encompasses the many staff, students, alumni, parents and community of supporters of the Tri-School Performing Arts Program at Mercy, Notre Dame and Serra.

     Look for information on how to get connected with TRISTARS at the end of this newsletter!


School of Rock

Tri-School of Rock

Summer Cabaret a Rockin’ Success


    In June of this year, Tri-School Productions and TRISTARS staged a “one night only” celebration of the influence of rock music in musical theatre.  Conceived, choreographed and directed by Gennine Harrington and Jay Jordan, Tri-School of Rock was based on the movie “School of Rock” starring Jack Black.  Phil Golding (S ’05) was cast as the substitute teacher in Mr. Jordan’s class and his goal was to help each student discover a love for Broadway Musicals. 

   At first, the ‘students’ – who had all been cast members in Tri-School Productions’ Up the Down Staircase (Fall ’07) – were skeptical of finding any musical that they could possibly like, but by the end of Mr. Golding’s substitute assignment, they gave ‘book reports’ about their favorite musicals through staged song and dance numbers from Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Grease, Little Shop of Horrors, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Who’s Tommy, Rent, Aida, Spring Awakening, Next to Normal and American Idiot.

   The cast included 24 alumni performers and 32 current students (including class of ’10).  Some of the alums were able to reprise their original roles in previously staged numbers, which brought thunderous applause from the audience of 300.  The Technical production crew, headed by current Technical Director Jon Hayward (S ’07), included seven alums and 11 current students (including class of ’10).  Finally, the Tri-School of Rock Orchestra, under the direction of Notre Dame Music Director Kristin Pfeifer (NDB ’87) included Serra Music Director Jay Jordan, Mercy Music Director Pam Matthews, one Tri-School alumnus and two class of ’10 grads. 

Spring Musical Into the Woods to be Performed at Foster City’s Hillbarn Theater

Into the Woods   The Gellert Theatre’s stage on the Serra campus, which is the home of Tri-School Productions, is serving as Jay Jordan’s music classroom for the 2010-2011 school year, while Serra undergoes MAJOR construction as it builds The Center for the Arts & Sciences and Aquatics Center.

    Bonus for Tri-School Productions: the new large rehearsal room and a second music classroom will be equipped with audio and video feeds from the stage allowing them to serve as a “Green Rooms” for productions beginning in fall 2011!  In addition the music classroom will have a built-in make up station and there will be male a and female bathrooms as part of the music suite.

   In the mean time, the spring musical Into the Woods will be held off site at Foster City’s Hillbarn Theater from March 31-April 9, 2011.  The number of available tickets per performance is fewer than in The Gellert Auditorium, so the number of performances has been increased from the standard five to eight for this year only.

   With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, Into the Woods intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them further to explore the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella, tied together by a more original story involving a baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family, most likely taken from the original story of Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm. It also includes references to several other well-known tales. (From Wikipedia)

   Tickets will go on sale in March. 




The Costumes That Keep on Giving    

Beauty and the Beast (2005)


     In 2004, Tri-School Productions was fortunate to be the first amateur company in Northern California to get the rights to perform Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  Our then costume designer, Eileen Child, was so determined to create just the right design feel and color palette that she and some of the other then Costume Moms took a trip to New York to see the show on Broadway!  The group included Barbara Braeutigam, who stepped into the position of costume designer when Child hung up her scissors and moved out of state.

   The New York trip, followed by the investment of blood, sweat and tears (literally) by the 2005 Costume Moms under Child’s direction paid off on stage that year and has brought continued cash flow to Tri-School Productions!  Income of over $10,000 has been generated from renting the costumes and “enchanted objects” to St. Francis HS, Holy Names Elementary, Humboldt Light Opera, Starstruck, Our Lady of Angels Elementary, Mitty HS, Tri-Valley Repertoire Theatre, Woodside Elementary, Kennedy Middle School, Bowditch Middle School, Burlingame Intermediate, St. Gregory School, Carlmont HS, and Half Moon Bay HS.  Mitty actually received an award for Outstanding Costumes given at American Musical Theatre San Jose’s Showcase in 2007.

   A feature picturing Eileen and “The Enchanted Objects” appeared in Stage Directions Magazine in 2005.  “We didn’t just sew costumes, we BUILT costumes that year”, remembers June Jordan, alumni parent and current costume mom.  “We met in Eileen’s garage every weekend and used saws, drills, nail and staple guns and heavy duty glues to put these things together.  One day, several of us put on the giant silverware pieces and walked across the street so that Eileen could see how we looked from 40 feet away to get the audience view!  Since then, I think we Costume Moms have talked about ‘the 40 foot rule’ whenever we have fussed over a thread color, or slight imperfection asking ourselves if what we are looking at so critically will be seen from the audience.”

   The Tri-School Productions’ Costume Moms Team still builds costumes that last.  You never know when our next rental opportunity will present itself.



The Gypsy Robe

Gypsy Robe Serra

   The gypsy robe is a symbol of good luck among Broadway chorus members, who call themselves “gypsies” because of the transient nature of their work. This distinction goes to a member of the chorus – not a lead actor – who represents the positive spirit of the production and is chosen by the production staff. The opening night ceremony of awarding a decorated dressing gown to a selected chorus member began in 1950 with a dancer named Bill Bradley.     A gypsy robe typically is made of muslin, and bears designs representing the musical of each chorus member who receives it. When one robe is covered with decorations, it is retired, and a new one is created. Tradition holds that before each performance, the current recipient must touch every piece of scenery for good luck and that every member of the cast must touch the robe and be kissed by the robe bearer.

   We began awarding the gypsy robe to an outstanding member of the chorus in 2001. Past recipients are:
2001 Katrina Manalac (NDB)  2002 Matthew Ferretti (S)  2003 Ivy Henry (NDB ’04)  2004 Alex Child (S)  2005 Troy Talmadge (S)  2006 Julie Myhre (NDB)  2007 Allie Glatt (NDB ’07)  2008 Jade Rey (S ’09)  2009 Chrissy Scannell (NDB ’09)  2010 Christopher Gee (S ’10)


Tri-School Productions Alumni- Stay in Touch!!!

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Mercy High School