“It’s absolutely hard to keep topping the concerts from the year before, but they keep getting better,” Jim Benson said after a Thursday, Aug. 4 Showstoppers performance in Secaucus. Beson came from Staten Island to see his twin grandchildren dance and sing with other students at the Secaucus High School Performing Arts Center.
Showstoppers — a group of Secaucus performing arts students of all ages who practice over the summer — was one of several acts that have been part of the town’s free summer concert series. The series will continue through September.
The summer concerts started Thursday, July 7, and take place every Thursday at 7 p.m.
The next concert, Aug. 18, will feature AM Gold performing 1970s and 1980s songs. On Thursday, Aug. 25 the Cameos will perform songs from the 1950s and 1960s. A Bon Jovi tribute band, Slippery When Wet, performs Thursday, Sept. 8. These three shows take place at Buchmiller Park.
At the Aug. 4 show, Benson’s two grandchildren, Jake and Kaleigh Salvatore, 10, did a duet of the song “Home” from a Broadway musical. The performance was centered around the theme “home,” said Showstoppers director Maleesa Lamatina.
“I thought it’d be great for kids to think about home, and where home is, here, in Secaucus,” she said. She said she was inspired after listening to a song called “Home” on the radio. “And I thought about all the songs with home in the title.”
Lamatina gives the group’s annual summer performance a different theme every year. She has focused on themes like fairy tales or mardi gras. This is her sixth year running a performance during the summer.
“Some kids asked me what the theme is for next year,“ Lamatina said. “I have a couple floating around, like Motown, summer, or Broadway. The kids know I’m a Broadway nut.”
Angelina Ledesma said she’s been in the Showstoppers summer program for six years.
Showstoppers performer Angelina Ledesma, 10, said, “My favorite song was, ‘You’ll always find your way back home.’ ” Ledesma said she’s been in the summer program for six years, but this was her favorite performance yet. “I like the bandanas that the teachers made,” she added.
Brother and sister Aidan, 6, and Averi Wurst, 11, have both performed in Showstoppers before. Aidan has been in it for two years, and Averi has been in it for six years. Averi also dances hip-hop and musical theatre during the school year, and has won trophies for dancing.
“ ‘Brick House’ was my favorite song to perform,” Aidan said.
“I tell parents that I love performing, but I’m thankful that these parents allow me to share my love of performing with their children,” Lamatina said.
Samantha Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.