To have great product you need great training

by Nicole Fallon – It may have been rainy and foggy at the Jersey Shore, but the stars were out in Lavallette on May 19, 2018. Six former cast members of The Music Man returned to the Grand Central Avenue Singing Ice Cream Shop for a special two-hour “reunion show” designed to help train this season’s newest performers.

The 2018 cast sat in the audience as TMM alumni Brian Kalinowski (2004), Kait Williams Holloway (2005), Shaun Nerney (2012), Nicole Pietrangelo (2017), Brandon Kalusa (2017), and Haley Fortune, who’s returning for her second season with us, donned their pinstripe vests and aprons once again.

They took and served ice cream orders, engaged with the crowd, and performed favorite pop and Broadway-inspired musical numbers – just like this year’s Lavallette and Seaside Heights casts will do when our 16th season starts on Friday, May 25.

Founder Aggie Roberts joined his alumni in the spotlight as he welcomed the incoming performers and special VIP guests, including some alumni family members and year-round TMM supporters. During this invite-only event, the audience enjoyed performances of some TMM classics , such as Hairspray’s “Nicest Kids in Town,” Wicked’s “Defying Gravity,” and Avenue Q’s “For Now.”

Although our cast has been hard at work practicing musical numbers, memorizing choreography, and learning how to be singing ice cream waiters, there’s a big difference between rehearsing and actually doing a live performance. Even the most experienced performing artists can get a case of the jitters before starting a new gig, and one goal of the reunion show – aside from providing a preview of the cast’s summer jobs – was to help ease some of those pre-season nerves, especially for staffers who were previously unfamiliar with the venue.

Incoming Lavallette cast member Brianna Graf said she found the experience particularly helpful for this reason.

“I’ve never been to the Shoppe or seen a show prior to working here,” Graf said. “It gave me a sense of relief to see how much fun everyone was having. I [knew I] wouldn’t have to worry about being perfect on my first weekend because everyone supports each other.”

Kalinowski noted how important it is for new cast members to see how everything comes together in the Shoppe before opening night.

“It’s hard to imagine everything running smoothly when you just have a few people explaining the concepts and methods during training, so seeing it in action is integral,” he said. “There are so many details to learn, from how to communicate your order to the scoopers and topper, to carrying glassware, to accessing the computer’s sound cues, to developing announcements with the audience. It’s a lot to learn in such a short time, but hopefully everyone was able to pick up on little details of how they can be more effective.”

Kalinowski added that he hopes the new cast was able to see how much fun it can be for both the workers and the audience.

“They’re going to have to opportunity to make hundreds of customers (and each other) laugh every single night,” he said. “If they keep that goal in mind, I’m sure they’re going to have an amazing summer!”

Keep check back as we begin our planning for the 2019 season. Visit (Lavallette) to learn more about hours, show times, tickets, special events, and more.