Mama D Relives a High School Memory After 46 Years

By J1 Reporter Olivia Ramaekers

The lights aren’t the only thing shining bright on Marian’s stage. Since 1965, Marian has had numerous people showing off their talents on the creative stage. Even though the gym stage was replaced with the amazing, high-tech Performing Arts Center (PAC) and the Kish Auditorium, in the fall of 2013, students still have the opportunity to feed their talents. This year, Marian had the opportunity to perform the musical “Hello, Dolly!” for the second time in Marian’s history. The first time, Mrs. Michelle Procopio “Mama D” Delisi ’74, performed in this show. 


Kathy Dufford ’72 in “Hello, Dolly!” back in 1971

In 1971, sophomore Michelle Procopio tried out for “Hello, Dolly!”.  She ended up getting the role of Chorus Dancer. Unlike the tryouts now, which happen in the PAC auditorium, the cast held their tryouts in Room 312. “I remember singing ‘Hello, Dolly!’ for the audition. The girl who got Dolly (Kathy Dufford Wheeldon ‘72) went towards the beginning and I went towards the back, but I remember sitting there listening to her and she was amazing.”

Delisi remembers tryouts to be carried out similarly to how it works now. The audition process takes three days. The dancing part of the audition happens on the first day, as well as the singing. The second day is all acting. On the third day, callbacks take place. Delisi was very excited to hear she got a callback. “I thought for sure I would be cut!” Delisi said.  Actors are split up and given different scenes, either in a small group, or with one other person.


2017: Emma Johnson ’20, Caleb Myers of Creighton Prep, and Megan Doehner ’18.

The actors will do a “cold script reading.” Each actor will get a scene, and practice it for a few minutes. The actors then read from their scene and perform in front of the directors and fellow actors. For the singing part of the audition, the actors are split into groups and sing a song that is chosen by the directors, but only sung to the directors and the people in your group.

Before each performance, the cast participate in traditions. Some of the traditions help calm and relax their nerves, make them burst into tears, or pump them up. The current musical cast has five traditions. Bounce, Pulse, prayer, a chant, and Senior Speeches. “I know we gathered in a circle and the director was in the middle to pump us up after prayer. The seniors would talk on the last show and we would always cry.” Delisi said.  “Each group did their own warm up. The ensemble warmed up together vocally, but we didn’t do anything that you guys do now.”


Dufford ’72 dancing with the waiters of the cast. Mrs. Delisi met her husband, Mark Delisi, (far left) during the show

As Delisi wore her favorite, extravagant lavender dress, she didn’t realize she was kick-ball-changing with her future husband. “We were dance partners in the Polka and ‘Dancing’. We got sent out into the hall for the Polka because he couldn’t get it.” Delisi said. In both shows, the dances were intricate and took lots of time to perfect. “We were always sent out into the hall, as well as another couple. I didn’t like him in the beginning. He irritated me.” Delisi didn’t start dating Mark Delisi until two years after the show, during her senior year.

Delisi also met Marian’s current director, Mr. Michael McCandless. Marian used to pair up with Rummel High School, an all boys high school, which is now known as Roncalli High School. “We hung out once I started dating Mark. Mark and Mr. McCandless were in the same circle of friends and I would go to their music concerts at Rummel.”

Delisi is proud of how far the musical program has come. “I’m just happy that musicals are still happening. It’s an amazing experience and I would hate those who have the ability and talent to not share it with others and for us to not offer them that opportunity.” Mrs. Delisi said. Delisi said she had a blast working with McCandless again. “We would have those ‘Did we do that?’ ‘Remember that?’ moments.” The dynamic duo worked alongside Ms. Lauren Morrissey ‘09 to make this show happen. They bounced ideas off of each other to make it similar to how it was when McCandless and Delisi ‘74 did it back in ‘71.

Even though Delisi has said goodbye to Dolly twice now, she still keeps the memory of Dolly Levi close to her heart.


2017: Rachael Brich ’18 sings her heart out during “Before the Parade Passes By” 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s