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Sewickley Academy's anniversary celebration to be a 'Singular Sensation'

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Sewickley Academy grandparent Walter Gregg, at center, rehearses for 'One Singular Sensation' with middle and senior school students, from left, Mary Duggan, Ariana Gonzolez, Chloe Geller, Emily Amato, Alexis Krey, Ciara Donohue, Samantha Cowley and Mckenna Misko. The 175th anniversary musical will be presented Friday and Saturday at the academy. Submitted

It's a family affair on many different levels.

“One Singular Sensation,” a 45-minute musical review written, produced and directed by 1995 Sewickley Academy graduate Marguerite Park will feature many familiar faces when it is presented at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the academy.

It features Park's father, Walter Gregg, her daughter, Olivia, 9, an academy third-grader, and her mother, Pam Gregg, who is helping to direct the show commemorating the 175th anniversary of Sewickley Academy.

Featured will be a cast of close to 60 parents, students, alumni, faculty and staff from ages 7 to 70-plus and songs from a variety of musicals.

Park of Sewickley Heights said those who come to the academy as students find they are joining a family.

Walter, 71 agreed and said it's also the academy families that have helped the school thrive over the years with their generosity and facilities donations, which will be part of his brief talk in the show.

He said the physical structure is only one aspect featured in the show.

The musical focuses on the history and also celebrates what the academy is today in every aspect — appearance, athletics, academic excellence, theater and arts, he said.

Park said actors briefly will discuss a bit of history followed by a song and dance number focusing on that theme.

For example, Carol Semple Thompson will speak about athletics. Headmaster Kolia O'Connor will make a presentation at the end of the show.

Also featured will be information about the fire of 1972; the academy's transition from a neighborhood to a regional school; and the days of Headmaster Cliff Nichols.

But Park said she wanted to avoid having a musical that was merely a rundown of “this happened, then this happened,” so the themes are not presented in chronological order.

Before she wrote the musical, she explored what the academy's mission statement is today and wrote around those aspects, like diversity, and explored history books written about the academy for its 150th anniversary.

Park and her parents also participated in the academy's 150th anniversary musical presented by the late Mario Melodia, an academy dance teacher and director of the musical theater program.

“I wanted this show to be like a pep rally to get people really excited about the school,” she said.

She began working on the show after she finished writing her fourth Child Health Association of Sewickley show, “A Pirate's Life for Me,” which was presented in November last year.

Park's daughter said her favorite part is singing the song “We're all in this Together” from High School Musical with the entire cast. She also sings with groups in “Consider Yourself,” from “Oliver,” and “One” from “A Chorus Line.”

Olivia has been acting, singing and dancing on stage since first grade.

Being on the stage is natural for her, her grandfather said, which it is for most academy students who perform in shows in every grade and learn to feel comfortable speaking in front of others.

Joe Jackson, lower school academy dance teacher, is choreographer for the show. Tim Heavner, the new academy chorale director, is musical director. David Harrison, a 1996 academy graduate, will accompany on piano.

Park, who studied American history and women's studies at Vanderbilt University, said history, theater and writing are her passions, and the academy musical combines them all.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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