By Cary Shuman
Even if you don’t sing, dance, perform, or play a musical instrument, it’s worth the trip to see the transformation ofspace that Trudy Macero has performed at the new home of the Winthrop School of Performing Arts.
The top floor of the E.B. Newton School building looks like it was tailor made for a performing arts center with its bright rooms, conference and storage space, and the classic brick walls that help maintain the historical character of the landmark.
The move from the former Wadsworth Building to the EB Newton coincides with Macero’s business celebrating 25 years in existence. The relocation is being hailed as a triumph for the town and Town Manager James McKenna who wanted to keep the E.B. Newton property in the town’s domain. There was talk of the town selling the building following the move of the School Department offices to Town Hall.
Eric Gaynor, executive director of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, hailed the town’s efforts following the studio’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning.
“Having the E.B. Newton School remain open as a center for businesses or arts’ use is very beneficial to the town,” said Gaynor. “It kind of serves two purposes: it helps on an economic development front by providing space for businesses in Winthrop that need it and it also benefits the community as a means of being an income source for the town. It’s a totally win-win for the town. This building is a landmark in this town and I don’t think we should lose that.”
Gaynor called Macero’s rehabilitative work on the space and the new look “amazing.” “She went all out and the results speak for themselves,” said Gaynor.
Macero, a former professional singer who toured on the road for several years, first opened the Winthrop School of Performing Arts in 1986 inside the Wadsworth Building on Winthrop Street. When the building was sold last year, Macero sought a new location, though she could have stayed through May.
Macero said Town Manager James McKenna helped make the move to the E.B. Newton a possibility and she’s grateful to him for seeing it through.
“The E.B. Newton is his baby, so to speak,” said Macero. “He has made it his business to make sure that this building had life in it and that it also had the arts in it because I think he [McKenna] heard that from the community – that they always wanted some sort of a center for the arts in town. So he took the ball; he did not want this building to be empty.”
Macero has certainly given the third floor a life of its own, an exciting, vibrant place for children who aspire to learn to dance, sing, perform, or play a musical instrument.
Macero replaced the rugs, installed a brand new hardwood floor and refinished another, and cleaned up and repainted the entire center. The studio opened in its new space January 2.
“The parents and kids have been absolutely thrilled,” said Macero. “The bare bones of this place was beautiful. It just really needed an extreme makeover.”
Macero’s family has lived in Winthrop for about 40 years. She is assisted at the Winthrop School of Performing Arts by her husband, John, a principal at the Whelan School in Revere and former director of fine arts for the Saugus school system. “My husband is a strong supporter of the arts,” said Macero, who met John through their association with the Winthrop Playmakers.
Macero has been involved in other Winthrop organizations as well, notably the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce and the Viking Pride of Foundation where she is a member of both boards. Macero has raised funds for the local schools.
“I think if you work with the community well, they’re very supportive,” said Macero.
Thousands of Winthrop have “graduated” from the performing arts school that has classes in dance (tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, and pointe), acting, voice, and music. There is also an elementary school chorus, and the year culminates with a dance recital.
Macero said she enjoys turning a shy child into a self-confident person through acting or singing lessons. “We can bring a lot out in a child and parents will say the difference in the child is amazing. I think being in performing arts makes a child that much better rounded. Winthrop is a great town because we have so much to offer our children, all kinds of sports and activities, and it’s wonderful that they have the arts to go along with sports and academics.”
Ideal might describe the location of Macero’s performing arts center. Students can walk from the Cummings School and the Middle School to the studio at the E.B. Newton School building. While Winthrop represents the majority of the students, children from East Boston, Revere, Chelsea, Saugus and Lynnfield also take classes at the center.
Many students attend the performing arts school for years. “We watch the children grow from very little ones to high school graduates,” said Macero, who honors the graduates during a ceremony at the annual recital.
Macero has recently added Zumba (Latin rhythmic dance) and women’s jazz classes to the school’s menu. On Tuesday nights, Macero hosts “Zumba in the Dark” sessions.
Also becoming popular at the school are themed birthday parties in which students will perform a production such as “Annie” or the “Wizard of Oz” for the guests at the party.
Macero said she is excited about the future in her new location and looking forward to helping Winthrop children enjoy an appreciation for the performing arts for many years to come.