A Show “Different Than Anything Else We’ve Done”

A Show “Different Than Anything Else We’ve Done”


As if by magic (with a little help from dramatic lighting, two stages, couches, candles and the performers’ impressive talent), Brooks’ Black Box theater was transformed into a New York City-style nightclub for the school’s first Arts Cabaret on Friday.

Photo of student performing in the 2023 Arts Cabaret.

“The ambiance was so different than anything else we’ve done before,” said Music Teacher Dr. Emily DiAngelo of the hour-long production that wove together theater and music, monologues and ensembles, bright jazz and sultry rock. “It felt so intimate and welcoming and so full of variety, almost like a collage we were putting on.”

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After one performance wrapped, another one immediately kicked off “and then our emcees Philip Mwangi ’24 and Preston Wong ’23 were doing their thing,” she said. “It was non-stop and just constant stimulation!”

Photo of students performing in the 2023 Arts Cabaret.

As the arts department hoped, when they pulled together more than 50 students for the April 21 cabaret-style performance — including advanced jazz band, advanced rock band, festival chorus, chamber orchestra, advanced performance studio, stagecraft, plus three students who have been specializing in stage management and technical theater — “the audience was very, very into it,” said DiAngelo.

Photo of students performing in the 2023 Arts Cabaret.

And what an audience it was: The show reached standing-room capacity before the event even began at 8 p.m.!

“We think the students deserve a packed house every time they play, and when we come together as a big group, we attract more people to watch our performances,” said DiAngelo. “By collaborating within the performing arts, we’re doing something that is accessible to everyone, offers good variety, and hopefully brings more students into the arts to see what great programs we put on.”

Photo of students performing in the 2023 Arts Cabaret.

The department is “far greater than the sum of its parts,” Director of Music Dr. Michael Bruschi chimed in. “This event represents our putting our heads together to showcase all that student brilliance in the performing arts.”

Yet for all of the dazzling moments, there was raw, hard work behind the scenes.

“The students truly rose to the occasion,” said Director of Theater Meghan Hill. Beyond dealing with their individual nerves as they performed in a new space with only one rehearsal, and tackled new material, they also had to collaborate with each other to transition between pieces.

Photo of students performing in the 2023 Arts Cabaret.

The highlight of the night, for her, was witnessing students problem-solve on the spot. “Through my headset, I could hear them working to organize, prepare and warm up backstage,” she said. “On stage, I saw students recovering from skipped lines, repeated verses and varying tempos. Their impressive ability to pivot and recover made their errors invisible to the audience, but I like to remind my students that live performance isn't about being perfect. It's about how we embrace our imperfections and move forward.”

Photo of student performing in the 2023 Arts Cabaret.

Soloist Kat Thompson '24 (shown above) got the message. “[The] cabaret taught me … to work in the moment,” she shared after the show. “As a group, we were able to embrace what it means to perform live and instead of working against live mistakes, we allowed the performance to flow. I learned … how many things go into producing a performance and how much work people contribute.”

Fellow singer, Arshia Sharma ’24, hopes the success of this first arts cabaret will inspire others not just to come to see the show, but to join in. “There was something for everyone,” she said. “Next year, I hope more of my peers gain interest in participating in the arts." Until then, Bravo, Brooks artists on the debut Arts Cabaret!

Photo of student performing in the 2023 Arts Cabaret.