Malverne High School alumnus David Coonan said that he has seen or been a part of every high school musical since 1995. About three or four years ago, while attending one of the high school’s musicals, he sat next to one of his former classmates, Kenny Miles.
“We just started reminiscing about how much fun we had and how great it was and what this great program has done for everybody,” Coonan recalled. “I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if all of us alumni got together and put on a show like we used to?’”
Coonan, who graduated from Malverne High School in 1999, hopes to bring that vision to life next summer in 2019. He pitched the idea to Michael Messina, the district’s chairman of music and fine arts, in 2013. Last year, shortly after Coonan was hired as an English teacher at Howard T. Herber Middle School, discussions between the two have grown.
“Being able to put together a show on that stage with people who I went on that stage with, and people who came before me and after me who have that same passion that I found would [be] a dream come true,” Coonan said.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea, and that it’s a great opportunity and great way to bring together a wide variety of ages,” said Messina, who has worked in the district for over 20 years.
Coonan, who is also president of the Malverne Community Theatre, explained that musicals and plays have been a staple in the village for decades, dating back to the years of local art and production directors Sal Zaccaro and Charles Messinger. Messina said that being a part of this theatrical tradition adds to the experience.
“It’s almost like creating an all-star team,” Messina said. “Having alumni from my first year here and putting them together with other graduates would validate all of the work that we’ve done over the years.”
Some of the challenges with piecing this together, Coonan explained, is finances to fund the production, figuring out the availability of people who might have families or live outside of the village, learning new music and finding out if they have kept up their theatrical skills.
“I fully believe that talent never dies and that if you work at something, and you get the rust off, you can be just as good,” Coonan said. “It’s a big-time commitment, and it’s a labor of passion, but if they love it, they’ll do it.”
Michelle Cavill, art director at the Malverne Community Theatre, said that she has been in contact with many of the students she graduated with from the high school in 2000. The next step, she said, is finding the time to start fundraisers for the play.
“We have a good foundation that we can build upon,” Cavill said. “Any help for this production is welcome.”
As for potentially performing with graduates from different eras, she added, “Everyone’s the same age when you’re on stage and performing together.”
The Malverne School District and the MCT agreed that this production would be a separate event from the district, and that it would primarily rely on alumni that choose to take part in the show. In addition, the production would have to be insured by a performing arts organization. With the MCT, Coonan has that covered.
“For everyone that was a part of this, I’m sure it was a part of their life and that the time they had on the stage was special,” Coonan said. “I kind of hope that this brings back some great memories.”
Coonan will host a public meeting on Thursday, Sept. 20 in the Howard T. Herber auditorium at 7:30 p.m. for people that may be interested in contributing to the musical. For more information, visit the Malverne Community Theatre’s Facebook page at Malverne Theatre.