Broadway star Merritt David Janes sings at a benefit concert at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris on Wednesday night. Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal

PARIS — The last time SAD 17 Choir Director Dennis Boyd saw his college friend Merritt David Janes perform he paid $75 to see him star as Dewey Finn in “School of Rock” on Broadway in New York City.

On Wednesday night, Janes performed a concert at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School for $5: a steal compared to his usual price point.

“We happened to catch Merritt when he actually had a couple of minutes free,” Boyd said. “That has not happened much in the past 13 years . . . I’m fully taking advantage of my friendship to drag him here.”

Broadway star Merritt David Janes sings at a benefit concert at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris on Wednesday night, accompanied by pianist Danielle Tran. Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal

Boyd and Janes attended the University of Maine, graduating in 2004, and both performed in The Maine Steiners, UMaine’s all-male a capella group.

“I’ve known him for 19 years . . . it’s funny for me to close my eyes and listen to him, and think ‘wow, he really is that good,'” Boyd said.

The $5 admission fee went to help sponsor the high school ensemble’s trip to New York City to compete in the Heritage Festival. Students also had a chance to sing and talk with Janes and performed with him during the concert.

For Janes, the opportunity to help was welcome.

“These days, the arts programs in schools need all the help they can get,” Janes said. “I’m very happy to lend my support . . . if there’s anything I can do to help DB’s arts program, I’d love to do it, as he’s a dear friend.”

Students said it was a unique experience to sing onstage with a Broadway star.

“It was kind of cool,” junior Fynn Moxcey said. “I got my start signing in Broadway shows at school. It was cool to actually see a professional. I kinda want to do music in college . . . it’s cool to see what a professional does. ”

Janes grew up in a small town in Vermont, and said it was important to bring the perspective of a professional performer to small-town Maine.

“It’s important to show up in small towns . . . I grew up in a small town, and I would have loved if somebody did this in my town. I’m more than happy to do it,” Janes said.

He said music is important to students.

“I think it’s important for everyone to be musically involved in some capacity,” Janes said. “It doesn’t mean you have to do it your whole life or have it be the main focal point of your life. Like speaking another language, or learning a trade, it helps give you a well-rounded perspective.”

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