"Show Stoppers," as it has been dubbed, continues the town's expansion of its recreational programs and will offer professional dance, theater and singing instruction twice a week over the upcoming summer for kids ages 6 to 16.
"This new program will offer our youngsters a unique chance to train with professional performers," said Mayor Dennis Elwell. "This is an exciting chance for our youth to expand their horizons."
For years, Secaucus has struggled to keep its civic theatrical program alive. This has not been for lack of interest, but largely because lack of a performance space. Theater groups have perpetually struggled against the tight school schedule in order to access the high school cafatorium, the only space large enough to handle the crowds necessary to make play production possible. The approved construction of the new auditorium at the high school will allow a wider range of public events to take place, officials say. The reconstruction of Buchmuller Park and the installation of a band shell there will also provide additional opportunities, which the new program hopes to use.
The town has retained Tony and Donna Buonauro to provide instruction. Both performers have extensive experience on the stage, from Carnegie Hall to Atlantic City.
Tony is a winner of many scholarships and awards, including the New York Grand Opera competition and the Metropolitan Opera's young artist competition. He moved quickly from Broadway to major opera houses around the world. Last fall he appeared in Paris in a Bellini opera. He has worked with Mickey Rooney on television movies, and in Broadway performances of Sugar Babies.
Donna said she learned about life behind a microphone while singing with her father's band. And she fell in love with the old standards through her role models, Shirley Bassey and Barbara Streisand. Her credits include nightclub performances throughout the country, including the ballroom in New York City and Los Angeles' Gardenia Room.
As a duo, their music covers classical to pop in such a way that it reaches everyone. They've done Broadway, opera, pop and standards with performances from New York to Tokyo and Europe to Australia, from Carnegie Hall, Broadway, Lincoln Center and almost every major show room in the country. The pair has appeared with Pat Cooper, Jan Murray, Carol Lawrence, Rip Taylor and others.
Having these two teach in Secaucus, according to Councilman Fred Constantino, liaison to the recreation department, gives Secaucus kids a chance to learn from top-flight professionals.
"Our recreation programs are designed to help our youth become well-rounded, and this is a unique opportunity to expand their cultural horizons," Constantino said.
The Buonauros will give lessons, instructions and offer performances beginning July 8. The programs will be held twice a week from 3 to 5 p.m. at the town recreation center on Front Street. There will also be a performance at the Buchmuller Park amphitheater on Aug. 8, featuring the Buonauros and the program participants.
Families who want to enroll their children in the six-week program should contact the Secaucus Recreation Department at (201) 330-2079.