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Cast of Newsies performing "Carrying the Banner"

NHS Students Shine Under the Bright Cabaret Lights

On January 11, 2019, Nutley High School held its third annual Cabaret Night. Since it began in 2017, the event has allowed students to showcase their musical talents for friends and family. In addition to musical theater, this year, Cabaret Night also welcomed in the theatrical talent of Nutley High School’s Thespian Honors Society.


In the words of English teacher and Director for the NHS production of Newsies, Mr. Michael Gurrieri Cabaret Night is, “an opportunity to show off the talents of music and theater students.” Even though the event only used to showcase the musical aspect of theater, Mr. Gurrieri is excited that this year Cabaret Night was able to include all parts of theater: music, acting, and dance.


Beginning in November, students auditioned with, “a musical theater piece, monologue, scene or improvisational skit,” according to Mrs. Rebecca Polynice, Director of Vocal Activities at John H. Walker Middle School. Out of those who auditioned, Mrs. Nicole Monte, the NHS choir teacher, Mr. Gurrieri, and Mrs. Polynice chose a few students from each grade level grade to perform. “Once students audition, it is up to them to continue to prepare their piece in anticipation of Cabaret Night,” said Mrs. Polynice.


Senior Olivia Grzywinski worked on her song, “I Can Do Better Than That” from The Last Five Years for two months with her voice teacher. She also sang backup for middle school student Mark Surretsky. The night’s only dance performance was done by senior Rebecca Vigna and junior Alexa McNulty to “Hot Honey Ride” from Chicago. When asked what made this year’s Cabaret Night different, both Olivia and Rebecca agreed that there was a different vibe performing on the John H. Walker Middle School stage. “It felt more formal,” said Rebecca.


Mr. Gurrieri agrees. “On a stage, you lose the intimacy with the audience. It almost has a traditional talent show feel,” said Mr. Gurrieri. However, though he agrees with the students about the venue, he did acknowledge how logistically it’s easier to have Cabaret Night in an auditorium because there’s minimal setup. “It probably won’t stay like that for next year though,” said Mr. Gurrieri.


Besides the change of venue, the most noticeable difference in this Cabaret Night from years past is the addition of acting and dance. Mr. Gurrieri said that the main reason for adding acting and dance was that he wanted to “capture” the idea that, “Cabaret Night is an ability to showcase all parts of theater. Also, having more acts breaks up the night while including more students into the event who would have done the fall play.”


Senior Gabriella Capalbo is one of those students. Doing the fall play for the past three years, she was genuinely upset when told there would not be one this year. However, when it was announced that acting would be incorporated into this year’s Cabaret Night, she got straight to work. “My friends and I practiced our lines in and out of school often,” said Gabriella. They performed a group scene from the play Little Women. In addition to having the opportunity to act in front of people, Gabriella was also thankful for Cabaret Night because it was, “good practice for the NJ Thespian Festival” the Thespian Honors Society will compete in on January 20th and 21st.


Overall, Cabaret Night can be summed up by Mr. Gurrieri’s favorite part of the event. “I loved seeing the middle school talent," he said. "Especially since I only get to work with high school students, it’s nice to see younger kids with a lot of talent who are working their way up the ranks.”


This is what the hope is for every Nutley High School event; to create a place where students can express themselves and foster a place of creative engagement. Stay tuned to see what Nutley High School’s drama has in store next.