By Miriam Trujillo
Last Saturday night the lower Pryz was full of beautiful sounds as eight singers and a pianist took the stage to bring us a Cabaret titled “Born This Way,” featuring pop music from iconic and beloved women of the twenty-first century. This Cabaret was directed by Christina McCann, a senior Musical Theatre major, and music directed by Rebecca Nisco, a senior Composition major, but it was entirely, produced, performed, and directed by students. In accordance with the CenterStage motto “The CenterStage Company is from students, by students, and for students.”
“Born this Way” marks the start of a new CenterStage season and CenterStage’s 40th Anniversary. The audience was full of CUA students and fellow musicians who supported their friends on stage with contagious enthusiasm. The applause didn’t stop much that night, as the all-female cast presented the audience with 12 well known and tunes, and the message that all women are beautiful.
“I really wanted the Cabaret to exude a message of positivity and inclusivity,” said director Christina McCann.
Her vision was well recognized as the singers performed uplifting songs such as “Scars to Your Beautiful (superbly interpreted by Jyline Carranza),” “Girl on Fire,” and of course, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. Other high moments in the show included Bethel Elias’ delightful rendition of “Daddy Lessons” and Thea Seifert von Fock’s version of “Girl on Fire”. The performers across the board exhibited a level of earnestness seldom even seen on professional stages. They were all obviously dedicated to their mission of celebrating womanhood in all its shapes.
Especially inspirational to watch was the singers’ support of each other and the element of teamwork at play as they handed each other microphones, sang backup choruses, and jammed to their fellow singer’s lively beats. This unique set-up coupled with a few surprise collaborations, such as the interpretation of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” performed by Katie Wethli featuring Julia Link elegantly exemplified the joyous solidarity that should exist among all human beings.
The rehearsal process definitely helped to lend this tone to the performance. According to McCann, the singers were not necessarily chosen among musical theatre majors. CenterStage welcomes anybody who wants to perform, design, or learn about the theatrical process. Performers in “Born This Way” participated in several team building activities during rehearsal.
McCann hopes that her Cabaret will do much more than merely spread a verbal message of unity: After the show, performers went around the audience and collected donations to the #MeToo movement. #MeToo’s desire to help others and recognize the common humanity of those of all backgrounds ties in well with “Born This Way’s” theme.
“Donating was a stroke of inspiration,” says McCann.
CenterStage is planning much more that the CUA community can look forward to, including David Auburn’s “Proof”, The “Addams Family”, and “Hair”. If you missed the cabaret there’s plenty more where that came from!