Shining Stars Rock the Stage at First Holiday Show

The Christmas spirit was shared by a near sellout audience of 600 at the first-ever Shining Stars Christmas Spectacular, featuring a talented cast of forty who performed to a standing ovation at Union Catholic High School on November 30th.

It was the first time in the seven-year history of Shining Stars that they took the stage to spread holiday cheer and as usual, the talented special needs cast and their high school “buddies” rocked the house with songs from the season, including a rousing rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” — performed with a five-Santa band, who also delighted the audience with their own dance number.

(All photos courtesy of Lori Fleissner Photography)

A highlight of the evening was “The Twelve Days of Christmas” where every audience member was invited to participate. Each section had their own “cue card” and happily stood up and shouted their line throughout the song, which was led by the entire Shining Stars cast.The audience enjoyed not only sing-a-long favorites such as “Sleigh Ride” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but Dan Montealegre and Gina Berry rose to the occasion to perform a beautiful version of “O Holy Night” followed by a Christmas version of an original song, “If You Believe” — a staple of the Shining Stars shows.

From the opening number “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” — to the crowd-pleasing finale “Feliz Navidad,” which had the audience dancing, the Stars proved once again why they are such a big draw.

As usual, talented emcee Ryan Fay had the crowd engaged and laughing from the start.

“It was another amazing night,” said Shining Stars founder and show director Sally Curci. “Our talented cast was wonderful and the audience was terrific. It was a great way to start the holiday season.”

“In only two short months, our cast put together another special show,” noted Co-director Nicole Greene. “They continue to rise to the occasion each and every time and we couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishments.”

With a sleigh hand-crafted by Jim Parlapiano and sets designed and built by Amy Downey, the stage was set for a holiday extravaganza. The costumes were once again designed and created by Johanna Hathaway.

Special thanks goes to the administration and staff of Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, especially Principal Sister Percylee Hart and Associate Principal Dr. Karen Piasecki who welcomed the Shining Stars cast with open arms. A big thank you as well to Crayon Club President Audrey Davis and the students at UC for all of their assistance in making the show such a memorable event.

You can catch highlights of the show posted on the Shining Stars Facebook page at

The Shining Stars cast are already in rehearsals for their 8th annual “Evening of Shining Stars” — which for the second straight year, will be on the grand stage at the historic Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway. Over 1,000 audience members enjoyed Music Through the Decades last May, and their upcoming show promises to be another spectacular event. Titled The Greatest Show, the Stars will sing and dance their way through music from Broadway to movies, with several original compositions also being performed live for the first time.

“Our cast members inspire us each day, and we are also inspired by the kindness and generosity of our local community, who continue to support our stars at every show,” noted Shining Stars Network President Mike Curci. “The energy at each show is amazing, and we hope that even more people come to see The Greatest Show in May.”

Tickets for An Evening of Shining Stars –The Greatest Show – are on sale now at

Shining Stars Network would like to thank all of their incredible volunteers, parents and cast members for making 2018 another memorable year. 2019 promises to be another great year highlighted by their May 3rd show, their second Christmas Spectacular and the Shining Stars Ambassadors basketball team which travels the state to play first responders and other organizations. The Ambassadors will put their undefeated record on the line against the Cranford PBA on Friday March 15th at 7:00pm at Cranford High School.

2019 will also mark the third year of Camp Shine, an intensive two-week performing arts camp for individuals with special needs slated for August 19-30, 2019 at the Fanwood Presbyterian church in Fanwood. For more information on the camp, please email

Based in Cranford, Shining Stars Network is a registered 501(c)(3) non profit organization that shines the light on the special needs community by creating opportunities in the performing arts. To find out more about SSN, view videos and articles, or to donate, log on to

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