Rochester High School’s choir program performed their 30th annual Cabaret concert on the nights of May 10 and May 11 in the RHS auditorium.
Each year, Cabaret has a different theme represented in the music and performances throughout the night. This year’s theme was “Timeless.”
“This year, because of the 30th anniversary, we decided the theme was time, and so all the songs we wanted to have something to do with time,” choir director Mrs. Catherine Lykins said.
The choir program had about seven weeks to prepare Cabaret, which the students spent learning the songs and dances.
“For Cabaret what makes it different from all the rest of the choir concerts is they sing and dance at the same time,” Mrs. Lykins said. “It’s almost more show choir-y and it’s all pop music, so it’s a lot of fun. It’s the stuff they really want to do.”
To help with the dancing aspect of the performance, a choreographer was hired to teach professional dances to the students. Freshman choir member Tara Flaherty saw this part of the show as a challenge.
“I’d say dancing and singing at the same time [was difficult] because it’s like a workout,” Flaherty said. “It reminds me of Zumba.”
However, sophomore choir member Tori Toutant enjoyed learning the dances with her classmates.
“I mean I’m not the best dancer, but it was fun because it didn’t really matter,” Toutant said. “It was just the group coming together to have fun doing one thing as a team.”
In terms of learning the songs, sophomore choir member Alex Glaspie felt that the choir was already used to the process.
“We kind of just learned the songs because we’re in choir, and we obviously know how to sight-read and learn music,” Glaspie said.
Behind the scenes, the stage crew also contributed to Cabaret.
“We have a stage crew that plans out the lights and the sound and what the stage is going to look like,” said Mrs. Lykins. “That’s a huge piece of the puzzle too, making them look good while they’re performing the concert.”
Preparing for the concert required choir members to commit time after school to practicing their dances and songs.
“The week before the show, every day we would stay after school until 5 and run through the different acts,” Toutant said. “Wednesday, the day before our show, was the dress rehearsal where we put on our costumes.”
According to Glaspie, all the time put into the performance brought her closer to some of her classmates.
“In between when we had to go on and when we were offstage, we were just sitting in the dressing room just talking and having a really good time,” Glaspie said. “I definitely bonded with a lot of freshmen that I didn’t get to bond with in class.”
In the spirit of this year being the 30th anniversary of Cabaret, Mrs. Lykins also invited RHS choir alumni to come back and sing with the current members.
“We started a Facebook page and we did all these different things, but I guess the challenge was trying to communicate with those alumni and get them also excited about this,” said Mrs. Lykins. “We invited the alumni up to sing the last song with us, and they all came up. The first night we had about 20 people and the second night we had about 35 alumni that came, so it was pretty good for as hard as it is to gather all those people together.”
Also going along with the theme of time, Mrs. Lykins shared how Cabaret has changed over the years.
“When it first started they actually did the show in the mall back 30 years ago and over the years it’s grown to what it is now,” said Mrs. Lykins. “I think the way the lighting is [and] the way the set is is different than in the past. Just the preciseness of the show, choreography, and transitions have improved immensely over 30 years. I’ve only been at this school for two years, so even from last year to this year the kids were crisper and more creative and just really embracing it.”
Overall, Mrs. Lykins was pleased with her students’ performance in Cabaret.
“Normally during the Cabaret show I like to stay backstage during the performances and hang out with the kids and pump them up before they get on stage,” said Mrs. Lykins. “I did that for the first performance, but for the second performance I just wanted to sit back and watch it because I was just so proud of the show.”
Now that Cabaret is over, some choir members look forward to what the future holds for them as they continue with the program.
“I’m moving up two choirs, so I’m going from concert, skipping chorale, and going to chamber, which is the highest choir,” said Glaspie. “I’m super excited to work with boys who know how to find pitch and work with harmonies . . . and I’m also really excited to work with upperclassmen girls.”
Similarly, Flaherty will also be moving up to the next choir level.
“Next year I’ll be in chorale choir, the next level up, so we’ll be doing more and it will be more challenging,” Flaherty said.
Toutant is most excited for more travel opportunities as a member of RHS choir.
“Something we did this year was New York, and it was really fun, so I’m looking forward to more trips that we’re doing later,” Toutant said.
Also considering the program’s future, Mrs. Lykins hopes to recruit more students to grow the choir in numbers.
“We have such a big school with so much talent and such a small choir program, so we’re really working on recruiting,” Mrs. Lykins said. “We had an amazing year. Cabaret was so good [and] our festival scores were so high, so we just want to continue to maintain that level of excellence and get even better over time, which we can do more if more people are joining the choir.”
However, with the school year coming to a close, Mrs. Lykins feels that her students ended on a high note.
“Cabaret is such a fun way to end the year,” Mrs. Lykins said. “We do formal concerts all until now, and no other school in Rochester has something like Cabaret, so I wish more people would come out to see it because it’s high quality music and singing with dancing. It showcases our students so well and it’s the only one like it in Rochester.”