Broadway comes to Summer on the Hill

Broadway+comes+to+Summer+on+the+Hill

Emily Salzhauer, Staff Writer

The school hosted a fundraiser, Broadway Comes to Summer on the Hill (SOH), last Monday evening.  During the event, members of the community watched three Broadway stars, Tony Award winner LaChanze, Pearl Sun, and Leesa Richards, perform musical theater songs on the Gross Theatre stage. Executive director of SOH Markell Parker planned the event.

The money raised from the ticket sales went towards supporting SOH’s 7th and 8th grade programs, along with SOH robotics and arts programs, attendee Matthew Aponte (12) said. 

Since 1994, the school has hosted SOH, a program for about 200 students grades three through six who are recruited from public schools in Harlem, the Bronx and Washington Heights, Parker said. Students of SOH take accelerated classes during the summer and for select Saturdays each school year, he said. SOH normally takes place at the schools’ campus in Riverdale, but has become virtual due to COVID, Parker said. 

Before the performance, the 90 vaccinated and masked guests gathered in Olshan Lobby for a cocktail hour, where SOH Board Chair Ginger McKnight-Chavers P ’18 welcomed them. 

Afterwards, the performance began with two of the Broadway actors, Sun and Richards, singing musical theater songs, Parker said. The singers were also accompanied by a four player band, which included a bass, guitar, piano and a drummer, he said.

The guests included HM students and SOH alums, families and teachers, the executive director of SOH Markell Parker said. Congressman Adriano Espaillat, the first Dominican to serve in the House of Representatives, was also present at the event.

It took six months of work to plan this event, Parker said. SOH found these specific performers through families in the community. LD music instructor and MD and UD Carmen Keels, helped secure one of the performers, her friend who is a Broadway performer, Aponte said.

The fundraiser was the second installment of “Broadway Comes to Summer on the Hill,” after its inaugural event in 2019. “An important aspect of Summer on the Hill is arts and performance, so this was a neat way to recognize the program in that way,” Director of Institutional Research & Enrollment Management Lisa Moreira said.  

After that, the performance began with two of the Broadway actors, Pearl Sun, and Lesa Richards, singing musical theatre songs, Parker said. The singers were also accompanied by a four player band, which included a bass, guitar, piano and a drummer, he said.

Since Aponte is interested in pursuing musical theater in the future, he especially appreciated the special guests in attendance, he said.  “It was pretty amazing to see these actors come to HM to perform,” Aponte said. 

A highlight of the night for Aponte was when LaChanze dedicated a song about being a lion to him, he said. “She gave me a shoutout in her song and said that she was singing it to me, which was pretty cool,” Aponte said. 

“Thanks to FLIK dining and the facilitator department, the event went on smoothly and without a hitch,” Parker said. “It was a great night.”

Parker hopes that guests were able to learn more about SOH, he said. “I hope they took away the good feelings that were in the room and that they learned something about the extraordinary students we serve at SOH,” Parker said.