JEFFERSON — “Life is a Cabaret, old chum. Only a Cabaret, old chum. And I love a Cabaret.” Cue the theatrical bow and thunderous applause. Hannah Horn, a sophomore at Jefferson Area High School, had just performed the opening act in the March 19, dinner recital “Cabaret” hosted by the choirs of JAHS.
“Cabaret” included 20 acts, solos and group performances. The themed concert took place in the high school cafeteria but was rearranged so stage and audience sections were present. Flashy decorations were appropriately scattered around the room to help enhance the New York feel.
Students from grades nine to 12 were able to captivate the crowd with their great vocals and entertain them with the choreography that they had executed fabulously. The three choirs that performed were Show Choir, Treble Choir and Concert Choir. The soloists consisted of Hannah Horn, Alley Robertson, Abby Kovacs, June Cooper, Elizabeth Hawkins, Melanie Candela, Virginia Lucas, Justin Brown, Meghan Yazwinski, Audra Franley, Nick LaGrange, Kaitlynne Baucum-Krakauskus, Zoe Contenza, Tiffany Strope, Emily Baker and Logan Kincaid.
The recital included songs from some of Broadway’s greatest hit shows such as “Cabaret,” “My Fair Lady,” “Beauty and the Beast: A Broadway Musical,” “Grease,” “Chicago,” and was directed by the school choir director Natalie Modarelli and accompanied by Jefferson graduate, Neil Meloro.
The musically inclined students began preparing for this production in December. “We first learned the music by practicing every day in class, and then as we came to know it better we focused on details, like dynamics,” said senior Audra Franley, who performed in several acts including a solo “Just You Wait” from “My Fair Lady.”
Modarelli was also very busy with preparations in the months prior to the concert. She chose music to fit the theme as well as music that worked best with the students’ vocal ranges.
“I was very proud of all of my students; they have grown so much throughout the year and I really felt they stepped up to the plate and showed maturity. This performance showed me they are capable of a higher level of music,” Modarelli said.
The concert was a great learning experience. Modarelli said, “It gave the students the opportunity to perform an older style of music that they aren’t very familiar with, and they ended up really enjoying it.”
The seniors who are more experienced with the concert set up and etiquette helped the younger classmen by setting a great example.
Ariann Barille feels that she was able to enlighten the younger students. “I helped by being a leader and offering instruction to any students that didn’t understand the choreography. Although I sprained my ankle a week before the performance I still participated in practice because I knew that some members relied on me for remembering footwork,” she said.
Barille’s guidance definitely shined through during the Show Choir’s performance of a “Chicago” medley that portrayed her talents as a singer and dancer.
In addition to the old Broadway tunes, there were treats and refreshments offered for the audience members. Each student was asked to bring a dish, dessert, chips or drink for the buffet style dining that was offered. The food was a huge hit, almost as much as the music.
The concert showcased a broad array of singing styles but all fit into the “Cabaret” genre. It was a great way for students, teachers, parents and friends to share similar interests and enjoy themselves. The admission was only $1.
“Over $500 was raised!” Modarelli said. “Some of the money will be used to buy music for the spring pops concert. I figured there would either be a lot of people or barely any, and thankfully the cafeteria was packed.”
All performances had their own attitude; some students provided a theatrical performance, while others transformed the music into their own. Franley most enjoyed watching each act progress. “I liked hearing people’s solos, and how they grew from learning it to being performance ready,” she said.
Barille said, “We are such a close knit group which made it very fun!” Considering how well “Cabaret” went, Jefferson plans to have a similar event next year.
“In the future I would really like to have some after-school rehearsals because there never seems to be enough rehearsal time in class and this would give the opportunity to have more sectional time,” Modarelli said. From learning to performing and from school clothes to costumes, Jefferson choir members were able to experience a taste of Broadway glam in their “Cabaret,” which was enjoyed by all.