Bringing it Back: Bulldawgs on Broadway Returns after Three Years


Mary Clare Michael, Staff Writer

On Saturday, April 30, Bulldawgs on Broadway was presented by the HMHS Drama Club for the community for the first time since 2019. The cabaret-style show featured 22 musical theater songs performed by members of the drama club. This show typically acts as the capstone for the theatrical season, and allows for the students to put their own spin on their chosen number.

When COVID-19 caused online school in 2020, the drama club held a virtual variety show as a Bulldawgs on Broadway replacement, called Places! At Home. In 2021, the spring musical Gypsy was delayed due to COVID, so Bulldawgs on Broadway was canceled. A smaller variety show was produced over the summer, but only included the two senior classes who were unable to have their last Bulldawgs on Broadway. So, this is the first time that the show has returned, in full, for the students and community. 

Typically, there is an overarching theme for the show, but drama club director Mr. DiDonato chose to do a “Grand Reopening,” where students were allowed to audition with any musical theater song of their choosing. Some students performed the song they auditioned with, while others were assigned a number of the director’s choosing to feature the student’s talent.

Another unique aspect of Bulldawgs on Broadway is the creative control given to students. Ann Haas, senior stage manager of the drama club, became the official director of the show. 

“This was my directorial debut, which was unexpected but of course [Mr. DiDonato] couldn’t really direct because he was playing piano,” says Haas, “so I had to give all the feedback and help choose lighting and make changes to the sound, which was definitely new to me, but I also feel like it came pretty naturally because I have been stage managing before this.”

Haas, who began her career on stage but found her light behind the scenes, quickly stepped into the leadership role: “Giving people feedback on their songs, I feel like it’s not as hard as you would think because as a director, you are pretending you are an audience member and trying to figure out what you would want to watch.”

The show opened with an energetic full-group number: “I’m Alive” from Xanadu. Choreographer Sara DeRossi filled the number with jazzy-energetic dance moves, complete with a featured dance break. Students wore bright colors setting an electric tone for the show. Slower, ballad-style songs featured soloists with a lone mic, which were balanced by faster, performance-based songs. Each of the ten seniors featured in the show sang a solo that reflected their performance abilities and personality. 

The large number of solos was balanced by a couple of small group numbers; Ryan Cataldo and Mo Nobel performed a hilarious rendition of “Sue Me” from Guys and Dolls, and Eleanor McMackin and Justin Sullivan performed an energy-packed “My New Philosophy” from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The underclassmen trio of Maddie Kehner, Ryka Khanna, and Tess Smith performed “Make Him Mine,” a song from the lesser-known musical Witches of Eastwick. The song featured a cauldron, many props, and the appearance of their “bewitched men”– Griffin Adams, Joseph Keegan, and Peter Landis. 

Junior Griffin Adams, who played the role of the prince in Cinderella during the spring musical, was ecstatic to participate in this show. “I went to Bulldawgs on Broadway when I was in eighth grade, and it was probably one of the main things that made me want to join drama club… it was a full-circle moment.”

 Adams performed a heartbreaking rendition of “If You Knew My Story” from Bright Star. The song, typically sung by a woman, tells the story of the character’s abandonment through a folksy tune complete with riffs. The song was a major change after Adams’s classical performance in Cinderella, but featured his talents in an entirely new light. 

“I was lucky that Mr. DiDonato chose such a unique song for me,” reports Adams, “I feel like it was kind of representative of Bulldawgs on Broadway, which allows people to highlight their many different talents.”

“Bulldawgs on Broadway is one of my favorite things so I’m actually glad we were able to do it for real again,” says DiDonato, “it turned out better than expected, given our rushed rehearsal schedule.”

The show concluded with a heartfelt senior number. The class of 2022 stood on stage, performing their rendition of “What I Did For Love” from A Chorus Line. The song featured each senior’s voice as they stood in line, performing as a group for the last time. 

“It feels kind of surreal that this is my last show,” said Haas, who has been in almost every production and was featured in the show’s finale, “it was a good way to close out the year after Cinderella.