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BREADCRUMB

A CREATIVE CALLING

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February 8, 2024

For information on admission to Notre Dame Prep, please click here.

A new musical opening in August is the product of an all-alumni cast and the devotion of Notre Dame Prep's talented longtime choir director. 

Notre Dame Prep Choir Director Dave Fazzini is bringing the school's first all-alumni musical production to the Meadow Brook Theatre stage in August.


On August 23, the musical Alyce opens at Meadow Brook Theatre in Rochester, Mich. It will be the culmination of a years-long effort to stage the musical fairy tale about an indentured servant, a scarecrow, a witch and a witch finder. It's loosely based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Feathertop,” which was first published in 1852.

It also will be the first time that veteran Notre Dame Prep choir director Dave Fazzini has managed an all-alumni cast musical.


The team is still looking for more alumni to join in the production of Alyce. Click here for more information or to sign up!


"It's never been done before," said Fazzini, who wrote all the music for the play. "The initial response was positive and the enthusiasm has steadily risen all along. Our alumni have in the past returned and performed at various concerts and video projects over the years and we've had a few alumni choir concerts in the past as well, but this will be different."

Matthew Croft NDP'06, who currently is traveling the country as the music director, conductor and keyboard player for the Mamma Mia! 25th Anniversary National Tour, has agreed to provide the orchestration for Alyce. He said his former teacher first contacted him about the project in 2022.

Matthew Croft NDP'06 currently is on tour as the music director for the Mamma Mia! 25th Anniversary National Tour. He created the orchestration for Alyce.


"Dave had asked for some thoughts about arrangements for the show and whether I might be available or interested in orchestrating the show," said Croft, who currently lives in Omaha, Neb., when he's not on tour. "So we started there and began to more fully work on the project late last summer to start the scoring process."

He said it’s truly exciting to work on an original score and show.

"Plus, to have an orchestra of 15 professional musicians to work with is quite the treat. I’m hoping to be able to come and be a part of the production in August if I'm able to work it in my schedule."

Another alum, Michael Kurowski NDP'12, has been cast in the new musical as one of the leads, Feathertop, an inanimate scarecrow driven by love for Alyce who comes to life in order to win her. He's had numerous television and film roles, such as Josh in Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino (2008), and has worked in theaters across the United States during his nationwide tours of Once the Musical and The Play That Goes Wrong.

Michael Kurowski NDP'12 played a memory-challenged actor in "The Play That Goes Wrong," at the Broadway Playhouse in Chicago (2022). He will be Feathertop in NDP's Alyce.


He recalled fondly his NDP years with Fazzini.

"I was deeply involved with Dave’s choir programs and musicals," said Kurowski, now residing in Chicago. "I had heard about Alyce when he asked me to listen to the music, specifically the song “Alyce.” I knew Fuzz could play and sing great music, but I had never heard music he’d written. It was gorgeous and incredibly heartfelt. I was immediately in love with the show and wanted to be a part of it." 

Inspired by students

The initial call for auditions for Alyce went out last summer and most of the main characters have been cast, according to Fazzini, and there have been a number of read-throughs. There are a total of six leads, a dozen supporting roles, two choruses, dancers, non-singing actors, the production team, crew and administration. With rehearsals beginning in earnest in early July, it's a huge undertaking for anyone let alone someone who's teaching full-time and planning and directing a school musical in March.

But for Fazzini, now in his 25th year at NDP, he wouldn't have it any other way.

Fazzini has been teaching on Notre Dame Prep's Pontiac campus for 25 years.


"I've been fascinated by the theater since I was a child myself," he said. "Directing plays and musicals at NDP has deepened my understanding and love of the genre. It seemed like a natural progression to combine my need to write music with my love of the theater. And I have to say that while I've been composing music my whole life, it wasn't until I recently explored writing for the stage that music seemed to just pour out of me."

And while some of the stage's most famous performers, such as singer Julie Andrews and composer Stephen Sondheim, have influenced Fazzini, he says his greatest inspiration always comes from working with young people.

"If that sounds corny, so be it," he said. "Directing them in more than two dozen musicals over my career — each one a treasured memory — was the main prompt for me to tackle something as ambitious as Alyce."

Former student Croft says he in turn holds special memories of working with Fazzini.

Fazzini in a quiet, creative moment as he works through the music for Alyce.


"Dave was a fantastic teacher; I owe a great deal of my musical development to both Dave and Joe Martin," Croft said. "Dave always encouraged me to write and arrange, and has been a big fan of my work. His gospel and film music background was part of a really great learning opportunity for me as a student, and I took a lot of lessons from him into my college experience and beyond."

Captivated by the stage

Fazzini grew up in Farmington, Mich., and attended Farmington High School and Wayne State University where he earned a bachelor's degree in music composition. He's been playing piano since he was a child but says singing has always been his true passion. 

"My father was a music minister at a large Protestant church in Southfield called Brightmoore Tabernacle," he said. "So from my early elementary school days, I was put on stage to sing in front of hundreds of people. In fact, most of my early experience with music came from that church, and much of it under my father's direction."

For the past 15 years, Fazzini has been a member of a local band called "Cancel Monday," which plays around 80 dates a year — weddings, corporate parties and some clubs. He's also the sound engineer for St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lake Orion.


He also played cello in middle school and eventually joined the choir in high school. 

"My high school choir teacher took us to see a few musicals one year and I was captivated by the magic of the stage," recalls Fazzini. "So much so that during my senior year, I auditioned for my high school's production of Annie Get Your Gun. I got the lead role and experienced the magic from the other side of the curtain, which had such a profound effect on me that since then, I've been compelled to stay as close to the theater stage as possible." 

A Christian man

Now well into his third decade at Notre Dame Prep, Fazzini easily reflects on what it means to work at a Catholic and Marist school like NDP. 

"Teaching at a Catholic school is an amazing blessing. My childhood was full of church activity, participating sometimes four or more times a week. But like many, my church attendance lessened in my college and early career days."

He said working at NDP put him close to the church once again. So close, in fact, that he's proud to say that last year he attended the RCIA program at St. Joseph's parish in Lake Orion and was confirmed last Easter.

"Now I also get to more fully explore both my Catholic faith and the school mission with my students," he said. "I always pray that I can be a good example of a Christian man to the kids. The choir classroom and the cast of a musical are both great models of citizenship. In addition, classes like choir explore parts of the human condition that can't be explained by science. Things like beauty, faith, love and joy. I believe that this kind of scholarship is not only worthwhile, but essential to a complete education."

Fazzini is with his family, from left, wife Suzie, son Ben, Ben's girlfriend Elena, daughter Chloe, and her boyfriend Nathan.
 


SYNOPSIS: ALYCE 

Alyce is a musical about a servant girl, a witch-finder who hunts her and a scarecrow who loves her.

Setting: Once upon a time.

Alyce is a teenager orphaned since age six. Like the other residents of Burdock, she believes that witches are evil and should be destroyed. When Alyce is confronted with evidence that she herself is a witch, born of witches, she resolves to deny her nature, accept her cruel master’s proposal of marriage, and become a respectable citizen.

Alyce falls under suspicion after employing magic to save a dying child. The lecherous witch finder, who alone doesn’t believe in witches, incites the village against her.

Meanwhile, a scarecrow has fallen in love with Alyce and willed himself to life in order to win her heart. He stays alive by puffing an enchanted pipe given him by Mother Rigby, an ancient witch who loathes humans and becomes Alyce’s unlikely ally.

Based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, Feathertop.

Original music by David Fazzini, book and lyrics by Mitty Carter.

Orchestration by Matthew Croft NDP'06.

To be performed by NDP alumni, students and faculty at Meadow Brook Theatre, August 23, 24 and 25, 2024.


The team is still looking for more alumni to join in the production of Alyce. Click here for more information or to sign up!


An early read-through for Alyce at Notre Dame Prep. 

For information on admission to Notre Dame Prep, please click here.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School 
Notre Dame Preparatory School is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame Prep's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.