Over 100 family members, students, and faculty packed into the Upper School (US) Chorale Room on Friday, October 26, to watch 20 students as well as US Chorale Director Joe Horning and Voice Teacher Adriana Repetto sing in the twelfth annual Cabaret Night. Five pianists, including two faculty members and two students, accompanied the performers as they sang songs that ranged from early 1920s musical theater to current Broadway hits.
Mr. Horning kicked off the night with “You’ll Be Back” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning musical Hamilton, surprising the audience when he began to pull flags of different countries from inside his jacket during a part in the song that references British subjects.
“I just saw Hamilton earlier this year, and I wanted to sing something from the show,” Mr. Horning said. “The flags were just an amusing little prop addition I cooked up for some variation since the last chorus repeats a couple times.”
Following Mr. Horning was CC Chung ’22, one of five freshmen to perform in this year’s Cabaret Night. She sang “Just Around the Riverbend” from Alan Menken’s Pocahontas and “Before It’s Over” from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s Dogfight.
“I was extremely nervous to perform,” CC said. “I love to sing, but it’s always a little nerve-wracking going up and singing in front of a whole audience of students and parents.’’
She added that she was proud of herself after performing.
“I had managed to get through both songs without a hitch, and then I was able to enjoy the other performances!” CC said.
In preparation for the night, students practiced their songs for three to four weeks, turning to Ms. Repetto for voice lessons and Mr. Horning for guidance and coaching. Ms. Repetto said she was excited to see that many of the freshmen and sophomore voices improved over the summer.
“In addition to that, you can tell that they are working with teachers and have technically become more proficient,” Ms. Repetto said. “Their level of expression has improved too. What a thrill to hear how much acting was going on at the same time, how much the language came alive.”
This year’s show featured two performances that were sibling collaborations, including a trio of sisters Alyse Bierly, Kira Bierly (both ’19), and Tess Bierly ’22, singing “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten ’99 with pianist Valerie J. Becker accompanying.
Additionally, Gillian Goddard ’22 sang “She Used To be Mine” from Sara Bareilles’ Waitress, accompanied by her brother Henry Goddard ’20.
“I love performing with Henry because we have a great connection, which allows us to be able to play together well,” Gillian said.
Third-time Cabaret Night performer Tina Kulow ’20 and Max Ambris ’19 sang a duet of “Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind” from Spring Awakening with Henry Goddard on the piano, and Tina performed two additional solos.
“Cabaret Night is a wonderful opportunity to just have fun and be yourself and to witness others doing the same,” Tina said. “Everyone who does it gets hyped up beforehand. We all help each other with our makeup and outfits, and it’s just a really great group vibe.”
US Counselor Doug Neuman, who has been playing piano since the age of six and has played in most of the school Cabaret Nights, accompanied four performances this year. Mr. Neuman said his favorites parts of the night are hearing the great voices in the community and seeing students perform.
“What stood out to me this time was the range of singers and performers, more than in past years,” Mr. Neuman said. “It’s exciting to see so many people interested in performing. I particularly enjoyed hearing pieces I had never heard before and seeing siblings performing together.”
Myles Nadeau-Davis ’20 sang in three pieces, one of which was a medley he composed and performed with Aaron Chisholm ’19 and Will Carter ’20 on the piano. Aaron would frequently stop by the Drama Room while Myles did his homework there during his free blocks, and Will would play a series of chords on the piano, Myles said. This improvisation with voice and piano eventually led to the medley that Aaron and Myles performed at Cabaret Night.
“One day [Will] started playing, and we just took the chords and started improvising random songs on it, and we’ve been doing that since,” Myles said.
Mr. Horning attributed the evening’s success to the students who attended.
“The evening’s purpose was just to have fun,” Mr. Horning said. “We’re just there to have a ball and hear some great performances and celebrate the talents in our community.”