Malverne High School alumnus David Coonan had the idea of directing an alumni musical for about four or five years, but on Aug. 10, his vision will finally come to life. Malverne’s alumni will perform “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” at Howard T. Herber Middle School on Saturday, Aug. 10 at 8 p.m.
“It’s something that I always dreamed would happen, but it’s still hard to believe that it’s all coming together,” said Coonan, who graduated from Malverne High in 1999.
Coonan, who is also president of the Malverne Community Theatre, told the Herald that the idea for having an alumni musical came about when he attended one of the high school’s musicals a few years ago. There, he sat next to one of his former classmates, Kenny Miles, and the two reflected on the fun they had over the years.
“I had all these ideas in my head, and every year since then, I pursued next step, and the next step,” Coonan said. “Once I made the Facebook group and put the idea out there in November of 2017 and I saw how much interest I got, I knew I couldn’t turn back.”
Coonan, who is the director for the show, 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.
“I think I’m the only one here who had the experience of working with the renowned Chuck Messigner,” said cast member Ivy Mitchell, who graduated from Malverne High in 1982. “We may have changed hands, but it’s still a wonderful feeling here, and I’m happy to be back.”
Tamika Oxford-Springer, who graduated from the high school in 1994, said she attended Career Day in Malverne earlier this year. That’s when she ran into Coonan, and he remembered her for her performance of “Annie” in the early 1990s. Oxford-Springer added that she also chose to take part in the musical for her parents. Her father died in March, and her parent’s anniversary is on day of the show.
“My mom is so excited about this, and I feel like I’m doing this for my family to give them something exciting to look forward to,” Oxford-Springer said. “For me, it was a part of something that kind of made me feel like I’m supposed to be here.”
Lynbrook resident Billy Callahan, who graduated from Malverne High in 1997, said that he also decided to join the musical for his family. Shortly after he graduated, he moved to California with hopes of becoming an actor. While he enjoyed the experience, he never fully achieved his goals so he returned to New York after two years.
“Live moves fast. Before I knew it, I had a wife, two kids, and a house, so I had some responsibilities,” Callahan said. “But it was something I love doing. I’ve talked to my kids about following their dreams and doing what you love, and I want everyone to have a good time.”
Several of the cast and crewmembers have also done shows with the Malverne Community Theatre, including Stephannie Jablonsky, who graduated in 2001. Jablonsky, of Lynbrook, said that she has been able to stay in touch with people like Coonan through the Community Theatre and she cannot wait to perform at the middle school.
“The stage seemed so much bigger when we were younger,” Jablonsky said jokingly. “I think that it’s really cool to show support for the district and for the Community Theatre. Malverne has such an awesome district so this is a great way to just bring attention and honor where you’re from.”
Amy Coonan, another member of the Community Theatre, who is David’s younger sister, said that taking part in the school’s productions were some of her favorite memories growing up. “There’s something so special about being in this auditorium,” said Amy, who graduated in 2010. “There’s this beautiful continuity about being a Malverne graduate. Even though we all graduated different years, there’s just something where we have our own atmosphere, our own language, and it’s just this beautiful that you experience this across the ages.”
One of the he musical’s youngest members, Malachi Thomas, said that he viewed this as an opportunity to sharpen up his skills. “It’s been a great, humbling experience for me,” said Thomas, who graduated in June, and will attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City this fall. “It’s been humbling to the fact that I’m meeting all of these talented people before me, so I’m getting to learn from their experiences.”
Malverne’s first-ever alumni show is for older teenagers and adults. Tickets are $10 per person. To purchase tickets, go to bit.ly/2LOAaiX.