A daughter of St. John Villa, Marian Sparago ignited a passion for the arts at her alma mater. For over two decades, she served as director, musical director, and choir director at St. John Villa, while also teaching Music Appreciation and American Musical Theatre in the high school.
She mounted numerous and lavished Broadway musicals on the Villa stage, including CAROUSEL, THE BOYFRIEND, GOOD NEWS, BYE BYE BIRDIE, NO NO NANETTE, ON YOUR TOES and HELLO, DOLLY! which was the first show produced in the school’s then-new auditorium. In addition to musicals, she also produced annual Christmas shows, which featured secular holiday songs in act one, and a live Nativity with the reading of “One Solitary Life” in act two, a tradition the school continues to this day.
“Marian’s love of theatre and music showed in all she directed and each and every student was greater for it,” said long-time Villa choreographer Loretta O’Hara, who was honored with the CWL Memorial Award in 2015. “She was enthusiastic, expressive, creative and always respectful of her cast and crew. She truly brought out the best in everyone.”
In a connection to the award’s namesake, Carl W. Lesch, the Founding Father of High School Theatre, Sparago was introduced to the organ through Lesch as an 8th grade student at the former St. Margaret Mary’s School. After Lesch’s sudden passing in 1983, Sparago was asked by Fr. Kelly to help with the musical theatre program at Moore Catholic High School, where she served as Producer of the school’s musical, while also directing the school’s choir.
“None of this could have been possible if it hadn’t been for my friends and colleagues who helped to create magic on stage,” said Sparago, referring to her choreographer Loretta O’Hara and accompanist Glenn Kaiser. “I sincerely hope that somehow I made a difference and enriched the quality of life with my former students and their families. I treasure the moments we shared and that special bond that only music can give.”
Alumni of Mrs. Sparago’s shows are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org to send in memories, photos, or participate in a special tribute at the Gala.