BRISTOL - The 78th Annual OM Show, â€śThis Is Me!â€ť debuted Friday to an excited crowd entertained by songs and stories of personal empowerment at St. Paul Catholic High School.
Bristolites young and old packed the auditorium. Many of them have been to numerous past shows and some had come for the first time.
Julionn Vanbeveren came to the show with Theo Wilson to see a sibling perform.
â€śIâ€™ve been to the OM Show when I was a teenager,â€ť she said. â€śThey were doing â€™80s music like Michael Jackson. I also saw the Disney one last year, which was awesome.â€ť
Wilson said this was his first year coming to the show and that it looked like fun.
Joyce Douglas said she has come to the show many times over the years.
â€śIâ€™m very excited,â€ť she said. â€śThe Disney show last year was fantastic and Iâ€™m curious to see what they do this year.â€ť
Lonnie LaGasse, who sat with Douglas, said her son-in-law is one of the OMs.
â€śI always come out to see the show; itâ€™s always great,â€ť she said.
Jessica Cusano was another first-time show-goer. She said her eight-year-old daughter Lilyana was one of the performers.
â€śI like that this yearâ€™s show is about the club and about diversity,â€ť she said. â€śIt lets kids be who they are and be comfortable in their own skins.â€ť
Louis Serrano came to watch his 8-year-old daughter Mariah perform, too.
â€śThis is my first time at the OM Show,â€ť he said. â€śMy daughter has been working hard to rehearse.â€ť
As the lights dimmed, Don Coombs, President of the Older Members Association, welcomed the guests and thanked them for coming. He noted that one of the pit crew musicians was at the very first show and said that the OM Show brings in $20,000 to $25,000 for the Bristol Boys & Girls Club every year.
The stage was decorated like a circus as 150 performers ranging from 5 years old to Older Members in their 80s took turns singing and dancing in â€ścarnyâ€ť costumes featuring top hats, walking stilts and there was even a performer in a gorilla suit. They performed in the aisles throughout the show. As it began, they walked in clapping and singing in unison while other performers danced on the stage.
Interspersed between entertainment, videos were shown with interviews from members of the Keystone Club, a volunteering club at the Bristol Boys & Girls Club. Videos shown also addressed such topics as bullying, self-image and coping.
The OM Show is the countryâ€™s longest-running variety show. There is a different theme every year.
Allen Stone, creative director, said this yearâ€™s show featured music from The Greatest Showman and other contemporary songs with â€ślyrics (that) are very self-empowering, inspirational and motivating.â€ť
â€śThe music is really current and it will take people on an emotional roller coaster,â€ť he said.
There was also an OM Skit and the singing of traditional OM songs.
This yearâ€™s show is directed by Christine Yushak. Wayne Morgan is the assistant director, Theresa Degan is the music director and Coombs is the lighting director. Joe Dâ€™Addese is the sound technician. There are six choreographers - Misty Diakon, Lisa Santiago, Kimberly Alvarado, Jessica Leopizzo, Erin Frechette and Brianna Roque.
The OM Show continues today (Saturday) at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul Catholic High School.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting tututix.com/client/oldermembers/. Tickets for the two side rows in the auditorium are $15 and the center rows are $20. You can pick out your seats in these areas when they visit the website.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806or email@example.com.