By MIKE CHAIKEN
There is a new face taking charge behind the scenes of this year’s annual OM Show.
Although, in the world of Bristol’s community performing arts, she’s a familiar face.
Maria Salice, who has been part of the OM Show as a performer, is taking over the directing reins for the 74th edition of the homegrown variety show. This year’s edition is dubbed “Sentimental Journey,” and pays tribute to the music of World War II.
Salice, who also has been part of the St. Anthony School annual “Holiday Showcase of Stars,” said, “It was an honor to have been considered and then selected to direct the OM Show… I am very thankful I was given the opportunity.
Salice, in an email interview, explained that she has deep roots to the show, which is a fund raiser for the Older Members Association of the Bristol Boys and Girls Club Family Center.
Salice said she has continued her association with the show because “I respect the OM organization a great deal because of what they do for the community and for keeping the OM Show tradition alive and going strong.”
“I was 9-years-old when I performed in my first OM Show. I have been in more shows since then than I can count.”
“I told the cast at our first rehearsal that I got my start in local performing in the OM show and have made so many lifelong friends through my association with the show – and I was happy to be able to give back to it in this role,” said Salice. “I reached out to a lot of veteran performers who haven’t been able to participate in the show the last several years for one reason or another – and I was able to bring some of them back – which meant a great deal to me personally that they came back to participate.”
Shifting from performer to director, said Salice, “has been interesting and eye-opening…I always appreciated the gigantic amount of time I knew directors before me have given for this show – any show I’ve been involved in to be honest. But, as director, you feel a sense of ownership and hope for the show’s success that I don’t think I ever felt as a performer in the show.”
“Of course,” Salice continued, “as a performer, you want the show to go well and be successful and achieve fundraising goals.”
In terms of her performers, Salice offered praise for those stepping out on stage for “Sentimental Journey. “The cast this year is one of the best ever – very hard working and ultra-talented. My job really hasn’t been that difficult. Of course, you always wish you had more time to perfect things. I’ve got some butterflies that have begun floating around in my stomach – but I think that’s more excitement than nerves. I love everyone associated with the production – cast, crew and OMs – it’s been a great experience.”
In her cast, there is a familiar face who not too along ago served the same role as Salice.
Allen Stone, who had been a long time director of the show, has continued his association with the annual variety show.
“Allen is the show chairman and ‘my boss’ for this project,” said Salice. “He is a featured performer in the show and is himself a proud OM. He’s been a great support and a right arm throughout the process.”
When Salice was approached about shifting from performing to supervising the entire shebang, she said, “Allen had to do some convincing to me that I could direct this show. My hesitation came from never having directed a show. I have assisted with the Showcase of Stars Christmas show in the past and coordinate small performances for various events here and there. But, nothing of the magnitude of the OM Show.”
Salice said stone offered her some sage advice. He told her “to gather a good team of people to work with – which I know for certain I did with Sally Kish as musical director, Jena Doolittle as a veteran assistant director, and choreographers Misty Diakon to choreograph the adult cast numbers, Lisa Santiago as the youth choreographer, and Kimberly Doolittle to choreograph the specialty tap number.”
“In addition to these familiar names,” Salice said. “I was happy to bring a newcomer to the OM Show, Michael Morgan, as assistant artistic director. Michael is new to the OM Show but certainly not new to theater. Rounding out the team is Don Coombs, the technical director and set designer.”
Salice said, “Allen promised the job would be easier if I selected the right team – and he was right.”
The 74th annual OM Show, “Sentimental Journey,” will be performed at St. Paul Catholic High School on Friday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 18 at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 for evening performances, and $15 for the Saturday matinee ($10 children 12 and under). They will be sold at the Bristol Boys and Girls Club Family Center, 255 West St., Bristol or at oldermembers.com
By MIKE CHAIKEN