When St. Helena drama students learned that their friend Sam Smiley was fighting cancer, they wanted to do something to help. The students decided to support Sam by doing what they love best — putting on a show. Featuring musical theater power ballads, pop duets with amazing harmonies, comedy sketches, and instrumental solos, “Sing for Sam” is a showcase of the wide range of talent in the youth of St. Helena.
The show will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 21 at the St. Helena Performing Arts Center, 1401 Grayson Ave. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
Sam Smiley attended Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School and performed in St. Helena Drama’s productions of “Once Upon a Mattress,” “The Outsiders,” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Last year he went to the Idyllwild Arts Academy, where he was granted a partial scholarship, to pursue his love of acting.
Last May, Sam was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome with mutations, an extremely rare blood cancer that often leads to acute myeloid leukemia. Sam spent most of the summer at UCSF undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. He is now home in St. Helena recovering from this difficult treatment. Although Sam will not be able to attend Thursday’s performance in person, he will be able to watch via Skype.
Sam instantly impressed Patti Coyle, drama teacher, when he moved to St. Helena in the seventh grade. He was cast within moments to play Prince Harry in “Once Upon a Mattress” at the Lincoln Theater. She said, “Sam has delighted so many audience members and cast mates with his talents, now it’s our turn to show our love and support.”
Senior Rusty Frank, who will be the master of ceremonies on Thursday evening, describes Sam as “an incredibly strong actor, and a joy to be around. It was not uncommon for the two of us to belt our duets backstage for our fellow cast members.”
He also recalls rehearsing countless hours as Snoopy opposite Sam’s Schroeder, perfecting the dance moves for Sam’s show-stopping number, “Beethoven Day” in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!”
Junior Mia Pelosi will be performing “For Good” from “Wicked” with senior Hailey Peterson. Mia said, “I had the honor of playing opposite Sam in “The Outsiders” and it is still one of my favorite memories. Sam is a talented and dedicated actor. Working with him was an awesome experience! Through our shared love of theater, Sam and I instantly became friends when he moved here. I am so happy that I get to sing for him years later.”
In addition to the student performances, there will be a bake sale featuring delicious homemade treats and a wine raffle in the lobby.
Parent volunteers originally planned to raffle off just a couple of cases of wine at the event, but they were overwhelmed by the generous response of the Napa Valley wine community. Touched by Sam’s story, winemakers forwarded the request for donations to their friends, and the couple of cases quickly grew into an impressive collection of highly sought after wines. One winner will go home with a collection of eight magnums valued at over $2,500, and a second lucky person will win an instant wine cellar of 60 bottles, worth more than $5,000. Raffle tickets are $20 and will be sold from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the event.
All community members are invited to this wonderful evening of entertainment. There is a $10 suggested minimum donation for admission. If you cannot attend the event but would like to support Sam and his family, please visit the Smiley Family Medical Fund webpage at gofundme.com/smiley-family-medical-fund. For more information about the wine included in the raffle lot and how to purchase raffle tickets, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All proceeds of this event will be donated to the Smiley Family.