St. Mary’s on Broadway staged theatricals



Approximately one year ago an article appeared in the Arts and Media section of the Rhode Island Catholic newspaper, which profiled the St. Mary Academy Bay-View 25th anniversary of its performing arts cabaret show.

I would also like to inform the readers of the Rhode Island Catholic that there was another St. Mary's, on Broadway in Providence. Through the efforts of a newly-ordained priest, Father Timothy J. Sullivan whose first assignment was at St. Mary Church, a yearly Broadway production of composers such as George M. Cohan, Rogers and Hammerstein was staged.

Father Sullivan came around to each grade after the Christmas holidays. He presented a Broadway musical to be learned by the students, and the principal was responsible to make the musical become a reality.

St. Mary's Grammar School in the 1940s to the early 1960s had a student body of 700 to 800 students in grades one to eight with two classes in each grade, one for boys and one for girls. The parish also administered an all-girls high school of approximately 260 women called St. Mary's Academy of the Visitation and these young women participated in the Broadway production each year.

The students were given about eight weeks to prepare for musical presentations, which were held in March each year at the Gilbert Stuart Junior High School auditorium for three evenings. The auditorium was filled to the rafters for each evening performance.

Parents, parishioners, friends and alumni(ae) of the school came to show their support of this once very vibrant and successful parish and school, which is now closed.

The tireless efforts of Father Sullivan and the Sisters of the Congregation de Notre Dame(C.N.D.) of Montreal were the backbone of our parish and were the principal reason for the many successes that the parish experienced during those days.

I cannot finish this letter without acknowledging the tireless efforts of the school's music director who was the reason for the overwhelming success of the yearly Broadway production at St. Mary's. Her name was Mother St. Marie Anne CND.

Our grammar school principal/superior at that time was Mother St. Augustine of Hippo CND and our all-girls high school principal was Mother St. Philippa CND.

In the early 1960s a new music director replaced Mother St. Marie Anne as well as new principals for both the grammar school and the all girls high school. With this new leadership in place at St. Mary's, the yearly Broadway productions came to an end.

So all we have left are such wonderful memories of our school days at St. Mary's on Broadway.

Dr. Robert A. Tucker

St. Mary's Grammar School, Broadway, Class of 1963