APRIL 2017
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Rupert Holmes Inspires Cast of ‘Drood’ at AHA


Demarest, NJ: The cast of the Academy of the Holy Angels’ production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” received a very special guest. Rupert Holmes, who composed the show’s book, music, and lyrics (and “The Piña Colada Song”) visited the cast for a Question & Answer session during the final dress rehearsal. 

“We had reached out to Mr. Holmes early on in the process to get permission from him to use some pieces that are no longer available. He was very helpful,” Director Katie McSherry explained. Before the play was due to open, Holmes reached out to McSherry and offered to meet with the cast.

“When he came, the students were able to ask all kinds of questions about his work, and performed a few numbers for his enjoyment,” McSherry said. “He was very moved, and the cast, crew, and orchestra were incredibly inspired by his words after the performance. It was a day they will never forget.”

Audiences at AHA’s three performances of “Drood” were similarly inspired by the talent and enthusiasm that are evident in the actors. Cast members interacted with the audience before the shows began, introducing themselves and explaining how the audience would ultimately determine the ending of this comedic musical mystery.

“Drood” is based on a Charles Dickens novel that the author had not completed when he died. Holmes picked up where Dickens left off, but charged the audience with providing the answer to the mystery.

Before the Saturday night performance, cast members also spent time (in character) with theater-goers who took advantage of the pre-show dinner catered by AHA’s Chef Russell Ash.

The cast included Christian Puhlosky as William Cartwright/Chairman, Patrick Buckley as Clive Paget/John Jasper, Sofia Carvajal as Alice Nutting/Edwin Drood, Ariela Pizza as Deirdre Peregrine/Rosa Bud, Lola Samiian as Wendy, Marissa Dellapi as Beatrice, Rianna LeHane as Janet Conover/Helena Landless, Alexander Birchwale as Victor Grinstead/Neville Landless, Bill Fitzpatrick as Cedric Moncrieffe/Mr. Crisparckle, Gabrielle Layne as Angela Prysock/Princess Puffer, Luke Berninger as Nick Cricker/Durdles, Robert Buhrmeister as Deputy, Vincent Simpson as Philip Bax/Bazzard, Sofia Urquiola as Miss Joyce Throttle, and Chris Marzulla as Horace. Members of the ensemble included Olivia Arrigoitia, Jessica Boccassini, Jenna Cooperman, Grace Diaz, Jennifer Kievit, Emily McKiernan, Audrey Miller, Marc Rivera, Sara Rivoir, and Olivia Sheppard.

The performing arts program at AHA was recently nominated for six Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards, and earned three: Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction, George Croom;  Outstanding Performance by a Chorus; and Outstanding Direction, Katie McSherry. Ariela Pizza also earned the Metropolitan High School Theatre Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. All of these awards were presented for the school’s 2016 production of “Children of Eden.”


Since 1879, thousands of women have passed through the portals of Academy of the Holy Angels high school, the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts and athletics. Our goal is to provide each girl with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially and physically, by offering a first –rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity and giving service to others.

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