The Millburn High School Drama Club presented their eighth annual Millburn Cares benefit concert for the Broadway House for Continuing Care in Newark, "Rock the Cause."
Led by presidents Alex Fagan and Ashley Rappoport, vice president Martha Meguerian, fundraising chair Alex Sugarman and faculty advisor Suzanne Snyder, members of the drama club performed 15 songs from Broadway shows, mostly from rock musicals.
Performances included songs from "RENT," "Rock of Ages," "Wicked," "Spring Awakening," "Movin' Out," "The Last Five Years," "Next to Normal," "Jersey Boys" and "A Chorus Line."
The drama club kicked off the year in October when it held a packed event at Rockn Joes in Millburn. The music event raised over $400 for Broadway House for Continuing Care in Newark.
Millburn High School's drama club began to work with Broadway House when 2007 graduate Emily Hughes initiated a relationship with them. Since then, Broadway House and the Millburn drama club have formed a special bond, performing at the facility at least once a year and making visits to donate money and or clothing. In fact, on Saturday "Rock the Cause" will make a special trip to Broadway House to perform the concert live for the residents and present them with a check.
Alex Fagan and Ashley Rappoport served as the hosts and emcees for the event Friday, which included a house band, led by pianist James Harvey, guitarists Michael Matchen and Sam Godsey, and percussionist Jamie Fried.
The concert opened with sophomore Julia Silverstein with "Out Tonight" from "Rent." Junior Sam Schenerman sang "Don't Stop Believing" from "Rock of Ages."
Senior Alex Sugarman followed with "Endless Night" from "The Lion King,"accompanied by backup vocals Julia Silverstein and Chandler Blasini. Sophomore Erin Hernon continued the program with the ballad "What I Did For Love" from "A Chorus Line."
Junior Lauren Mandel, who has released an EP of her own, then sang "Popular" from "Wicked." Following Lauren, sophomore Chandler Blasini sang "Mama Who Bore Me" from "Spring Awakening," the Tony-Award-winning musical that first introduced "Glee" stars Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff to the world.
The first duet of the night followed Chandler's performance: "What Is This Feeling" from "Wicked" by freshmen Rachel Ben-Menachem and Jordana Graifman. Senior Anne Salorio then sang Jason Robert Brown's "I Can Do Better Than That" from "The Last Five Years." To close out the first act, sophomore Alyse Binder, and juniors Melissa Rosenberg and Gabby Miller sang "My Junk" from "Spring Awakening."
After a brief intermission, I opened the second act, singing Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" from "Movin' Out." Junior Jeremy Bergman then sang "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" from "Jersey Boys." Following Jeremy, senior James Harvey sang "Being Alive" from "Company."
Junior Martha Meguerian was next, singing "Superboy and the Invisible Girl" from "Next to Normal," accompanied by Alex Sugarman and Julia Silverstein. Jasia Ries then sang "Come to Your Senses" from Jonathan Larson's "Tick... Tick... Boom!"
To close out the night, sophomores Julia Silverstein and Chandler Blasini came together to sing the passionate "Rent" duet "Take Me Or Leave Me."
Looking back on the concert, co-president Ashley Rappoport thinks "the concert was unreal. The talent we had was amazing, and you could tell that everyone was ready to perform and dedicated to the cause. In the end, we raised an unbelievable amount of money and spread the word about the cause."
Rappoport thinks "Broadway House has been one of the greatest thing to happen to the Drama Club. After many members visited and spent time with the patients, it was clear that this cause is one of the most important and gratifying ones that we are helping. It made us that much more passionate and helped us realize what kind of a difference we could make."
Fagan agrees. Having visited Broadway House twice, "I can see first hand where all our effort and passion go. It's a wonderful facility that helps those living with HIV/AIDS get the care they need. I am so honored to help them each year," she told me.
The Millburn High School Drama Club (and Limelight Players) have been active in various charitable events and dramatic performances this year, most notably "Cheaper by the Dozen" in March, and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" in November. Fagan said that "what makes the drama club different than any other club is that the members actually form close connections and bonds. After rehearsing with these people for hours at a time, they truly become your family."
Rappoport told me "drama club at MHS welcomed a lot of dedicated and passionate members and therefore we were able to encourage many students to get involved."
Fagan is "very proud of this years concert. Each member of the club is talented in their own way and this event gives them the oportunity to shine." Rappoport agrees, saying "there is no way I could ever forget this experience. I learned a lot about the significance of what we were fighting for, and met some of the best friends I have."
Looking into the future of the drama club, under new leadership, Rappoport hopes "people will not lose their willingness to help and everyone will be dedicated to this cause, and members will continue to raise money, and never give up on the cause."