CJ Performing Arts Takes Center Stage

The Chaminade Julienne Performing Arts Department has taken on a new look this year with many new faces and talents comprising its cast. One of the department’s several new members is artistic advisor, Natalie Houliston. “It’s been a privilege to work with students and teachers in a variety of capacities,” she announced from the stage of this year’s fall play—Neil Simon’s “Fools.” “I appreciate everyone’s help and support as we blaze a new trail for the arts at CJ.”

Houliston joins Debi Schutt, CJ music veteran, and newly appointed director of bands and choir in the department’s revitalization effort. John Marshall, CJ principal, hired Houliston to direct the fall play and spring musical and help plan and implement programs that would create excitement and increase participation in the performing arts. Her work includes providing vocal lessons, movement workshops and practicing scene work.

“Natalie’s work is cross-curricular and provides ready-made resources to teachers in several departments,” Marshall said. “She’s building connections and opportunities for our students in and outside of the building.”

“This year has brought a time of transition and change to performing arts at CJ,” said Schutt. “The change is bringing renewed energy and a focused effort to improve many aspects of the department—and auditorium. A greater effort is also being made to increase appearances of CJ ensembles in the community.”

Along with Houliston, others who play vital supporting roles in the department include Judi MacLeod, Cuvilly director, who directs the liturgical choir; Karen Rinn, an English teacher hired this fall who instructs theater; Chris Johnson, a University of Dayton graduate who serves as school band director at Holy Angels; Anthony Houston, a Junior Music Education Major at the University of Dayton who serves as a percussion instructor; and Tami Whalen, piano accompanist for the choir.

“Everyone is excited about the prospects of taking performing arts to a new level,” Schutt said. “The amount of commitment and talent in this team is sure to energize our students and community and attract students who seek to excel in music and theater in high school and in college.”