The University Chappell Players classes of 1972-1979 held its very first alumni reunion in the Little Theater on Sept. 1.
The Chappell Players is the University theater group, that has been performing on campus since the 1930s, according to its official Facebook page.
Chappell Players alumni Catherine M. Pino of the class of 1978 and James Harrington of the class of 1976 both helped organize this event, which originally began as a Facebook group, according to Harrington. The University Office of Alumni Relations also organized the event.
Harrington said that the organization of the event was spontaneous and unexpected. “It just happened”, he said. “A friend found me on Facebook three months ago, we got in touch with another friend, and it grew from there.”
Harrington said he was able to connect with close to 40 people on the social networking site, and before he knew it was able to have enough people to fill the Little Theater on the day of the reunion. “I am thrilled to see my friends again,” he stated.
During his time as a part of the group, Harrington took part in, and helped produce, many of the productions on campus. Chief among these was the 1975 production of Jesus Christ Superstar, one of the first non-professional groups to perform the show, Harrington claimed.
One of the first friends Harrington connected with was Ray Abruzzo, a 1975 graduate. Abruzzo’s first production as a part of the group was Indian Wants the Bronx.
Abruzzo said that he was a part of every production during his time with the group and spent the majority of his time at the University in the Little Theater. “I was in this theatre every single day including summers, for four years,” Abruzzo said. “We made this our home.”
Abruzzo has since gone on to work on shows such as L.A. Law, Dynasty, Law and Order and most notably as “Little” Carmine on The Soprano’s.
As the night went on, Chappell Players from these classes shared their excitement and discussed how the group went on to change their lives.
Mike Muskopf of the class of ’74 said that being in the group opened his eyes to production and helped him branch out.
He said that he enjoyed the togetherness of the program, and how there was no one telling you that you couldn’t do something. “That’s what it was all about,” he said. After graduating, Muskopf has since gone on to work at big-time TV studios such as ABC news, PBS Channel 21 and for the past thirty-one years has been a part of the production team for CBS Channel 2 News.
Carol Baker also stated how being a Chappell Player was a life-changing experience. Baker was a part of the group between the years of 1973-1975, and played in shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Before being a Chappell Player, she said that she had a very different personality.
“I was very shy, isolated…Chappell Players changed my life,” she said. “Being in a warm environment felt great.”