Benefitting Toys for Tots, Slippery Rock University’s Musical Theatre Society staged a production titled “Holiday Cabaret” in the Advanced Technology and Science Hall’s auditorium on Wednesday at 8pm for students, staff, and the general public.
The “Holiday Cabaret” was produced by student director Sarah Sobota and Assistant student Director Hopi Myers.
“The executive board has had this idea for a while now and every year we do two Broadway shows and two theme shows,” Sobota said. “We haven’t done a Christmas show in a few years so we all decided this would be a good year for the show. The ideas for how the show will be put on come from my assistant director Hopi Myers and me, other than that the executive board comes up with a lot of the ideas together.”
All ticket proceeds went to the Toys for Tots charity, which benefits families in need of Christmas presents. General admission tickets were $7 and students with their IDs paid $5 for a ticket. MTS raised a total of $930.42 for Toys for Tots.
Auditions were held on Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in room 135 in the Swope Musical Hall. Sign-ups were not necessary for the second audition date.
“What Sarah and I were looking for was not only talent but enthusiasm and effort.” Myers said. “We wanted to find which voices would blend well together for duets and trios as well as how well the voice would fit for certain parts of the song. We told everyone to sing a part of a Christmas song. We just wanted a good idea of what the individual’s voice was like.”
With a wide range of Christmas songs available, Sobota and Myers narrowed down the selections to classics such as ‘Snow Miser/Heat Miser Duet’ and ‘Little Saint Nick.’
“When picking the songs I have to think about who might be auditioning for the show and what they are capable of singing,” Sobota said. “I have been listening to Christmas music since the second week of September thinking of ideas for this show. In the end, I see how auditions go and narrow down my song list from there. I also run the list by Hopi to see if she has any suggestions. The song list can be changed at any time, but once the cast list is set the song list is set as well.”
With just a month to prepare for the big night, the completely student-run production was presented this Wednesday. Preparation for the production differed for each student involved due to the many parts that were cast and the various tasks that needed completed by the directors.
“The directors prepare by reserving spaces for the show, gathering props and set pieces as well as making sure everything is ready for show night,” Sobota said. “The cast prepares by learning their music, learning their blocking/choreography, and getting their costumes together for the show. We all help to get the show ready on opening night and it is really a big group effort. The show would not happen unless we had every single person in the cast helping one another in any way possible.”
For those cast in the “Holiday Cabaret,” outside obligations were necessary to perfect their performances.
“What is required of the cast is to sign a simple contract stating that they would uphold certain standards that MTS has set, including showing up for rehearsals, behavior during rehearsals, etc.,” Myers said. “Once we have a rehearsal the cast is required to go over their part and blocking outside of rehearsal to further learn and solidify their part for rehearsal the next week. They have to provide a costume and if they cannot, then we will gladly help. There are also semester dues of $10 all members have to pay. We simply ask for dedication, effort, and a good attitude.”
In an interview prior to the performance, Sobota commented on how the show would be different this year. For recurring audience members, a change in the way of performance can be expected, as well as to get involved.
“This show is very audience interactive,” Sobota said. “We will be having a few sing-a-longs with the audience and singing and acting directly to them. Another big difference is normally the cast is backstage waiting to go on for their next number. In this show the cast is going to be on stage the entire show, watching, reacting and interacting with their fellow cast members while they are on stage.”
Soboda said she hopes the production of the cabaret will gain an array of emotions and reactions from those in attendance.
“The audience can expect to laugh, to cry, and of course, to sing.” Sobota said. “They can expect to see lots of ugly Christmas sweaters, as well as reindeer, elves and even the Grinch.”