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Thomas Jefferson alumni embark on 'Sentimental Journey'

| Friday, June 20, 2014, 5:26 a.m.
Thomas Jefferson High School graduates Joe Andreola and Dent Holden perform a song from Hairspray during last year’s event.
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Thomas Jefferson High School graduates Joe Andreola and Dent Holden perform a song from Hairspray during last year’s event.

Thomas Jefferson High School alumni will embark on a “Sentimental Journey” this weekend as students past and present take the stage for a cabaret-style extravaganza.

TJ Arts — an organization dedicated to promoting the arts and art education in the West Jefferson Hills School District — will present the third annual “Hot on the Arts” at 7 p.m. Sunday at Community College of Allegheny County's South Campus Theatre in West Mifflin.

Julia Suszynski, a 2005 Thomas Jefferson graduate and marketing chair for TJ Arts, said the show is a new incarnation of the annual “Cabaret for Kathy,” which was in honor of longtime Thomas Jefferson High School theater teacher and musical director Kathy Cecotti who succumbed to cancer in 2009.

“There are lots of former TJ students who have participated with the theater arts over the years,” Suszynski said. “This event is a great way to continue to foster that community whether people are coming from near or far.”

Suszynski will be traveling from her home in Washington not only to help run the event but to perform a scene and song from the Broadway show, “Once.”

“The show is a combination of scenes, songs and dances and for this year's theme, ‘Sentimental Journey,' we chose specific pieces to show the different parts of life,” Suszynski said. “Because it covers going from the teenage years through growing older, so the performers this year span the greatest range of ages.”

Suszynski said that for the first time, the organization partnered with the Atria South Hills Senior Living Community and developed a residents' singing group called the Classic Crooners who will open the show.

“They're very nervous,” she said. “But also very excited.”

Local actor Tim Hartman, who has performed on Broadway and appears in “ The Fault In Our Stars” recently filmed in Pittsburgh, will once again emcee the event and Suszynski said he's always a big hit.

But the real star of the night will be the TJ Arts program, which will raise money from tickets to provide arts enrichment programs and scholarships within the district.

“Our goal is to sell out the theater,” Suszynski said. “We're getting there, but anyone looking for a family- friendly event should come.”

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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