Surprise Visit from Off-Broadway Stars

Upper school students in the upcoming musical production of “Now.Here.This.” did a double take when the original stars and creators of the 2012 Off-Broadway hit joined their Zoom rehearsal on Friday, January 8.

Jason Reiff, the winter musical choreographer and middle school performing arts teacher, played the role of conspirator when he invited his friends and performers Jeff Bowen (music/lyrics), Hunter Bell (book), Susan Blackwell (book), Heidi Blickenstaff, and director Michael Berresse to drop in and surprise the students. “Now.Here.This.” was this team’s follow-up to their award-winning, humorously titled musical, “[title of show].” 

“These actors and stage creators are the cream of the crop both in ability and in their generosity of spirit,” Reiff said. “It was so satisfying watching students interact with the writers and creators of the music and stories they are learning right now.”

“The experience was exhilarating,” said Mali Black ’22. “Imagine being in a room with literal stars who have nothing but warm wishes and advice for you. It was nerve-wracking but also crazy fun.”

“As someone who wants to pursue a career in the arts, being able to talk to other artists about their experiences definitely gives you a feeling of confidence and clarity, because you learn that other people have struggled and survived and that you are capable of that as well,” said Sage Weinstock ’24.

Winter musical director and upper school theater teacher Meg O’Connor shared a memorable moment when students Jessie Xie ’24 and Camilo Bitar-Racedo ’24 joined the Zoom from China and Colombia, respectively.
“Susan Blackwell’s jaw dropped as she realized that our Masters family is a global one. She was stunned by the dedication to come to a rehearsal at that crazy hour,” explained O’Connor.

The connections made brought joy to not only the students but to the stars as well.

“I know it was a fulfilling and uplifting thing for the actors to experience during such a challenging time in the world and specifically in the theater business in which they all make their living,” shared Reiff.

The Masters community will get to view the livestream of the upper school winter musical “Now.Here.This.” at the end of February.

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