Dedham teacher’s work experience benefits performing arts students
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Cultural editor
DEDHAM / WEYMOUTH – Steven Bergman, a music and drama teacher at Dedham High School, Weymouth, brings to his classes lessons he has learned working professionally in various capacities of the performing arts.
The educator is also an award-winning composer, music director, keyboardist and playwright.
“The work I do with professionals helps me raise the bar for my work with students,” he explained. “And the work I do with students helps me stay balanced when working with adults. “
Major in math gets gigs
A native of Miami, Bergman played keyboard with groups in high school and college. His career path took a turning point after graduating from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1988.
He was hired to work as a music director at the Miami Actors Playhouse. With a professional theater credit, Bergman moved to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music where he graduated in 1992.
“I wanted to be in a part of the country where music was much more popular than South Florida at the time,” he noted. “I traded the weather for culture.”
Also in 1992, he played keyboards at the Charles Playhouse in Boston for “Together Again” with showbiz legends Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca from “Your Show of Shows” on NBC-TV in the 1950s.
“They are members of comedic royalty,” Bergman said of the duo. “Imogene Coca was such a fragile and small woman behind the scenes. Then the moment she stepped over the front line, it was amazing to see this energy transition come to life all of a sudden.
Bergman worked a few stints at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, including 1994’s “South Pacific” with 1968 Olympics artistic gymnast Cathy Rigby. He also began teaching youth programs there and others.
Newlyweds on the road
Most of his conducting concerts in the 1990s were at the now closed Worcester Foothills Theater. There he met his wife, actress and director Maryann Zschau.
Shortly after their wedding in 1997, their honeymoon was sort of a nationwide “Nunsense Jamboree” tour with Georgia Engel (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”). Bergman played keyboards and Zschau studied three roles. Meanwhile, Engel entertained the traveling troop.
“Georgia loved to do whatever was popular wherever we were,” said Bergman. “We ended up playing putt-putt golf in Indiana.”
Between the 1997 and 1998 tours, Bergman played keyboards at Nashville’s iconic Grand Ole Opry for the TV special “Nunsense Jamboree”, DVD and CD starring Vicki Lawrence (“The Carol Burnett Show”), winner of an Emmy Award.
Afterwards, the tour continued – as did the developments of the newlyweds.
“During the tour, we found out that we were going to be parents,” Bergman explained. “We had our baby shower in Dayton, Ohio.”
From theaters to classrooms
As songwriter and co-lyricist, “Jack the Ripper: The Whitechapel Musical” and Bergman’s “Curse of the Bambino” have been produced in several regional theaters, both accompanied by CDs. He also writes short, full-length plays.
Some of the Boston regional theaters where he has worked several times as Music Director include Lyric Stage Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, and Wheelock Family Theater.
As an educator, he taught music and theater from 2001 to 2006 at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School, a private preparatory school in Waltham.
“My second week of teaching was September 11,” he noted. “I quickly found that educators not only teach students, but are also there to support them when they are feeling stressed about school or life. “
To supplement his teaching license, Bergman obtained a master’s degree in arts education from Fitchburg State University. From 2006 to 2018, he worked as a voice and drama teacher at Littleton’s public middle and high schools.
Speaking specifically to a young audience, he wrote the music and lyrics, and co-wrote the book “Reigning Cats & Dogs”. Winner of the 2015 Jackie White National Children’s Musical Theater Award, the show explores acceptance, personal identity, friendship and loyalty. In addition to Bergman’s College in Littleton, the musical was staged in Groton and Watertown.
Education in difficult times
Bergman began teaching at Dedham High School in the 2019-20 school year, when distance learning began in March. He hopes his students will learn life lessons as well as the performing arts.
“Be invested and passionate about whatever you do, whether it’s in the arts or not,” he said, passing on his advice to the students. “Find a passion and an activity that nourishes your soul, especially in these difficult times. “
Learn more about Steven Bergman at holidayjournal.net.
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