Where Are They Now?
Written by Debra Roth Kane
Shannon Wollman, Pikesville High School class of 1986, left Baltimore to pursue her dream of a career on stage. After years in New York full of fulfilling roles, a stint performing on a cruise ship and a side trip through pastry school, she has happily returned home, and will this year attend her 25th reunion. She continues to perform locally, sings in a wedding band, Limited Edition, and also works for LifeBridge Health, raising money for Sinai Hospital. She lives in Mt. Washington with her partner Melissa Perham and their daughter Andrea.
iNSIDER: How do you feel about your upcoming reunion?
Shannon: Part of me feels like we just graduated high school last week. Another part.… Well, I took paths I never would have imagined as I walked across the stage to get my high school diploma.
What makes the connection to Pikesville and PHS so strong?
I’m sure people have said this before, but I’m still best friends with people I went to elementary school. PHS, Pikesville in general, fosters such wonderful continuity of relationships. It’s a
testament to a wonderful community.
Did you have a favorite high school performance?
I loved to sing and loved performing. I was always in the chorus. Then in the fall of my senior year, I played Helena in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Later that year I played Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes.” That was a defining moment for me, being the lead, in the spotlight, having an audience focused on me. I knew that was what I wanted to do. And Dr. Disharoon helped me transition into performing in the community. He helped me find out about auditions and encouraged me. I got cast that summer in “They’re Playing Our Song” at the Towsontowne Dinner Theatre.
What brought you back to Baltimore?
I lived in New York for eight years after college, working on the cabaret circuit and working on cruise ships. But the struggle became too much, and I realized I could make a life for myself in Baltimore. I got a daytime job and settled in with performing on the side. But I had to go away to be able to come back. I’m glad that I pursued that dream, but after a time, I had to put it aside. Now I work for LifeBridge, an unexpected but wonderful, fulfilling path.
What has been your favorite all-time stage performance?
Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl.” I first did it at Cockpit in Court in Essex, then at Harborlights Dinner Theater in Baltimore.
What about your personal life?
I have had a wonderful life, full of amazing adventures. The one thing missing was, I was not in a relationship; I was pretty much single for 40 years. One day I was on a bus coming home from New York. I have never written a song, but on that ride I became contemplative and wrote a song called “Her Heart Aches for Love.” I debuted the song at my 40th birthday celebration at Germanno’s in Little Italy; my party was me doing cabaret with my pianist Doug Lawler, in a room full of my family and old friends — because that is my passion. I met Melissa on match.com a month later. It was my beshert. We dated for two-and-a-half years; we got married at Baltimore Hebrew on Jan. 6 of this year. Melissa’s 5-year-old daughter Andrea walked us down the aisle.