Thursday, October 4, 2012

Former Stratford High Students Conquer Broadway

As the lights dimmed on the inspiring musical Evita, Stratford High School Choir Director Peter Steinmetz watched three of his former students perform on stage and in the pit. Their dreams of dancing, acting and playing music in a major Broadway production came true.

Steinmetz and his wife recently traveled to New York City to see the Broadway revival during a weekday matinee. The famous musical Evita tells the story of Eva Peѓon, a much loved actress and wife to former Argentina President Juan Peѓon. Eva Peѓon captured the hearts of Argentina and others all over the world during the mid 1900s.

Cece Prudhomme, theater director at Stratford, had told Steinmetz in February that three former students would soon perform in Evita on Broadway together. Thrilled, Steinmetz planned a trip to New York with his wife and contacted all three alumnus to inform them of his visit. They all decided to meet backstage after the performance and go to lunch together.

The students performing included Erica Mansfield, Class of 1997; Andy Einhorn, Class of 2000; and Emily Mechler, Class of 2007.

Mansfield and Mechler are both in the ensemble; Mechler is the understudy to “The Mistress,” a character in the cast, while Einhorn is rehearsal accompanist and plays piano in the pit.

In high school, Mansfield was a thespian, Spartanaire officer, choir soloist and lead in Stratford’s production of The Who’s Tommy. Steinmetz recalls her impeccable dancing talent and her aid in teaching dances to her student peers in the Stratford Playhouse.

While living in New York, Mansfield has performed with The Rockettes and in other Broadway shows, including How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Mama Mia. Einhorn was active in theater throughout high school. He was elected choir president his junior year.

An accompanist and piano soloist, he was the lead in Stratford productions of Brigadoon, Side Show, A Chorus Line, as well as the musical director of Anything Goes. A class valedictorian, Einhorn gave his graduation commencement speech.

He went on to earn a degree in music from Rice University’s Honors Program. Einhorn recently was the conductor of the Broadway run of Soundheim on Soundheim, too. Mechler, youngest of the three, was a thespian, choir soloist and lead in Stratford’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.

She graduated a year ago from the University of Oklahoma majoring in musical theater. After the show, Steinmetz and his wife headed backstage where he recalls beaming with pride. Steinmetz notes that these students were extremely talented when they arrived at Stratford.

As their instructor, he did his best to showcase their talents and to encourage them to follow their dreams. “Theater Arts is an extremely competitive field, requiring perseverance, study, discipline and, of course, talent. I feel especially blessed to work at Stratford where every year new talent comes our way.

It is hard to express the excitement I felt seeing the fruition of these kids’ dreams,” he said. Communications Dept. Intern Kali Venable compiled this news report.