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Hometown Harmonies: Headliners and a Hero in Branford March 6


Image courtesy BCF/Colin Sheehan Events

Image courtesy BCF/Colin Sheehan Events )

On March 6, the 3rd annual Hometown Harmonies will pull from a deep bench of professional talent tied to Branford, for a one-night-only performance that will bring down the house, honor a hometown hero, and support the legacy of Branford Community Foundation's (BCF) Cathyann Roding Scholarship Fund.

The 3rd annual Hometown Harmonies takes place on the Cathyann Roding Auditorium stage Friday, March 6,  7 p.m. at Branford High School (BHS), 185 East Main St. Tickets (suggested donation $10) are on sale now at  The event benefits BCF's Cathyann Roding Scholarship Fund.

Set to take place during National Association for Music Education's "Music in Our Schools Month" of March, this edition of Hometown Harmonies reunites of some of Branford's brightest alumni performers who have graduated to the professional entertainment world. It's co-hosted by BHS alumni Colin Sheehan of Colin Sheehan Events and Tony-award winning Broadway producer Greg Nobile of Seaview Productions; with musical direction provided by BHS alumnus and current BHS choral/musical director Mike Martone.

The memorable night will feature headliners Ryan Bloomquist (author/theatre performer), Keeley Baisden Knudsen (performer and co-founder, CT Legacy Theatre) and Eric Santagata (Broadway performer; director/choreographer). Joining the performance will be some young hometown rising stars, providing a sneak-peek of medleys from upcoming productions of BHS Performing Art's "Sweeney Todd" and Tabor Arts Branford's "Beauty and the Beast Jr.", as well as "a few surprises," said Sheehan.

One surprise was shared early with the public on Feb. 20, when Sheehan, who is also a BCF board member, announced BCF's Hometown Hero Award will be presented to Toni Cartisano. The annual award, which recognizes an individual who has made a significant impact on the Branford community, is always a high point of BCF's Hometown Harmonies program.

Through 2017, Cartisano and Roding shared more than 30 years of directing BHS Spring Musicals, building the foundation of BHS Performing Arts' reputation of excellence for spring musical performances and a springboard into the profession for many alumni, including Santagata, Sheehan, Martone, Nobile and Bloomquist.

Bloomquist could have been speaking for all of the alumni when shared with Zip06/The Sound his excitement to be participating in the upcoming Hometown Harmonies show and honoring Cartisano.

"I'm particularly thrilled about being there to witness Toni Cartisano get honored as a Hometown Hero," said Bloomquist. "She has certainly been a personal hero of mine. It's hard to put into words the sort of impact that Toni --- or as she's better known to me, 'C'-- has had on my life. It will be so special being there with so many fellow members of the program that she helped to build, both past and present."

Cartisano, who is also a retired educator and coach with Branford Public Schools, said she is very grateful and humbled to be named a BCF Hometown Hero.

"This is an honor that means more than I can say," said Cartisano. "Branford adopted me in the early '70's and my greatest honor has been teaching Branford's young adults!"

Knudsen said she feels honored to share in the evening both as a performer and as a supporter of education in the arts. For her part, she has been working locally to foster theatre arts and education through non-profit CT Legacy Theatre, founded in 2012 and currently undergoing a transformation at its historic space in the former Puppet House Theatre in Stony Creek

"I am thrilled to join in with these local voices to celebrate future artists through the scholarship fund and the legacy of Cathyann Roding," said Knudsen.

BCF's Cathyann Roding Scholarship Fund provides a scholarship annually to a deserving student who will be continuing their studies in the arts. BCF Executive Director Liza Petra noted the timing is perfect for the 3rd annual Hometown Harmonies as part of BCF's 40th anniversary year.

"The Branford Community Foundation is thrilled to see Board member Colin Sheehan produce the 3rd Annual Hometown Harmonies in support of Music in Our Schools month," said Petra. "As BCF celebrates its 40th Anniversary in 2020, we are proud of the impact we've had in Branford--including our support for the theatre and arts--and we look forward to the local talent that will be on display on March 6. Proceeds from Hometown Harmonies will support the Cathyann Roding Performing Arts Scholarship Fund at BCF, which seems a perfect fit for the event. Branford is a special place to live, work and play, and the 3rd Annual Hometown Harmonies is a wonderful example of this!"

Pam Johnson covers news for Branford and North Branford for Zip06. Email Pam at

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