The Millburn High School Drama Club presented its 10th annual Millburn Cares benefit concert for the Broadway House for Continuing Care in Newark on Wednesday, and hundreds of people were in attendance, beating the heat to support the performers and the cause.
Members of the current MHS drama club and alums who graduated during the last 10 years performed 29 songs from Tony-nominated Broadway musicals of the past decade.
So far, the concert raised more than $1,700 for the cause and donations are still coming in.
Drama club advisor Suzanne Snyder has worked with Millburn Cares since its very beginning in 2003.
"I have never felt more love and compassion in this district than I do each year at the final part of our Millburn Cares campaign. This was even more so on May 30th to celebrate 10 years. This comes from collaborating with the community, the parents and students to raise awareness and money for the HIV/AIDS cause. Also, each year I learn to become less concerned with material or superficial issues. Technical difficulties, the heat...it's all irrelevant to caring. We can still care and be human in less than desirable conditions."
Her words were echoed by the amazing display of caring (and talent) presented on the Millburn Cares stage.
Seniors and drama club co-presidents Erin Hernon and Chandler Blasini served as the hosts and emcees for the event, and live musical accompaniment was provided by pianists Brian Cao ('11, currently at Rutgers) and Danielle Spar ('06, Lehigh graduate). Hernon will attend Catholic University, and Blasini will head to Penn State in the fall.
Freshman Leonard Santos followed, accompanying himself on the piano with Billy Joel's She's Got A Way, from Movin' Out. Junior Rebecca Van Voorhees continued the program with a character-driven performance of The Life I Never Led from current Broadway hit Sister Act.
Samantha Schoen ('10, currently at Syracuse) provided the first alumni performance of the night, with an acappella rendition of the unforgettable Over the Moon, Maureen's performance song from the hit Rent.
Samantha Kubek ('09, a rising senior at Georgetown) performed See I'm Smiling from The Last Five Years. Sophomore Aanchal Sahay performed Nabalungi's song from the hit Book of Mormon, Sal Tlay Ka Siti (Salt Lake City).
Freshman Fiona Kirkland sang her rendition of the ever-popular Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from the musical Mary Poppins. Julia Silverstein ('12) and junior Sanibel Schneider closed the first act of the concert with The Dark I Know Well from Spring Awakening, the Tony-Award-winning musical that first introduced "Glee" stars Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff to the world.
The second act began with Blasini and her breathtaking performance of Breathe from In the Heights, accompanied by Silverstein and me. Freshman Chelsea Schwartz followed with Mama Who Bore Me, from Spring Awakening.
Millburn High School's acappella group Soulfege performed The Song of Purple Summer, also from Spring Awakening. The song featured soloist Caroline Casey, and was arranged by Eleanor Konrad. Soulfege members at this performance include Aanchal Sahay, Anthony Joo, Anya Parker-Lentz, Benjamin Dantowitz, Carly Maitlin, Caroline Casey, Christopher McHugh, Cynthia Mustafa, Daniela Kaplun, Eleanor Konrad, Emma Hayden, Erin Hernon, Fiona Kirkland, Jillian Berkowitz, Leonard Santos, myself, Miranda Kasher, Sarah Fogel, Stephanie Cabrera, and Stephanie Shaw. Soulfege is hosting an acappella concert this Friday night at MHS.
Continuing the Wicked theme, Christopher McHugh (colloquially known as The Dark Wynd) performed an original rap Popular (New Breeze) that was dubbed over the instrumental track of "Popular" from the hit musical. Sophomores Eleanor Konrad and Stephanie Cabrera followed with For Good, also from Wicked.
Ethan Lipkind ('10, studying at Rochester), who is currently writing and recording his own music, performed one of his original tracks, Long Island Sound. Schneider continued with Fly Fly Away from Catch Me If You Can, which, on Broadway, starred ex-township resident Norbert Leo Butz. Freshman Carly Maitlin sang I Know It's Today from Shrek, reprising a role she once had for the show's original Broadway reading.
I then sang Build A Wall, also from Shrek. I was followed by Sara Lipkind ('07, graduate of Montclair State) and Jessica Spar ('07, graduate of Middlebury) with I Know Him So Well from Chess, which they sang at Millburn Cares five years ago.
Freshman Ambika Chetal followed with Good Morning Baltimore from Hairspray, and the always exuberant Sam Schenerman ('11, at NYU) performed Young Lust from The Wall. Freshman Jillian Berkowitz continued with Memphis Lives In Me from Memphis.
The concert finale was performed by Hernon, Blasini, Van Voorhees and me: Light from Next to Normal.
The Millburn High School Drama Club (and Limelight Players) have been active in various charitable events and dramatic performances this year, most notably in November and in March. What distinguishes the drama club from other clubs 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," one drama club alumnus said.
Juniors Jordana Graifman and Rachel Ben-Menachem coordinated the performance witn Snyder. Snyder and several drama students visited Broadway House in December, to perform for the residents and deliver holiday gifts, celebrating the bond between MHS and Broadway House. The drama club is currently planning another trip for the summer.
To make a donation to Broadway House, send a check payable to Broadway House for Continuing Care. Checks may be sent to Millburn High School, 462 Millburn Ave., Millburn, N.J., 07041 c/o Suzanne Snyder.