Student-run cabaret “smashes” expectations

Freshman musical theater major Emilio Bayarena performs at “Be YOUR Star: a Smash Cabaret” on April 17.

By Brandon Scalea

With words like “create,” “sing,” and “meditate” written on giant white paper hung around the pub, the cast of “Be YOUR Star: a Smash Cabaret” created an intimate atmosphere with songs about perseverance and individuality. 

Directed by senior musical theater major D’Arcy Green, the cabaret was performed twice on April 17 and each time the packed crowd rewarded the cast with a resounding standing ovation. 

The cabaret was organized by Rider’s Broncway, a new student-run theater company on campus.

The performance pulled musical numbers from the NBC television show “Smash,” which aired from 2012 to 2013. The show is centered around a group of characters working on a Broadway show who must balance their personal lives with the chaotic demands of the musical theater world.

“Over the summer going into this year, I had an idea to put on a cabaret that conveys the message that as a performer, we need to remember what motivates us and keep pursuing what truly makes us happy,” Green said. 

The cabaret, which was streamed live on Green’s Facebook and was seen by over 1,000 viewers in total, began with the entire cast of 17 rushing onstage to view a cast list for a show, something that is commonplace in the Broadway industry. One performer, senior musical theater major Sarah Caldwell, was the only one who’s name was not listed. 

This setback is revisited at the end of the show as everything comes full-circle, when Caldwell sings “Don’t Forget Me,” a tune about someone who is constantly beaten down but fights through it. 

“This song has the perfect message to leave with the faculty and the underclassmen as a graduating senior,” Caldwell said. “This was my last time performing at Rider so the message of it was very personal to me. I wanted to remind the younger students that no matter what obstacles come their way in the next few years, as long as you love what you’re doing, everything is going to be OK.” 

The opening number, “Let Me Be Your Star,” was performed by freshman and junior musical theater majors Mackenzie Germain and Jordan O’Brien, respectively. “Original” soon followed with freshman and sophomore musical theater majors Shealyn Kelley and Danielle O’Connor taking the stage, followed by the rest of the company. 

The remainder of the songs emphasized the trend of the cast following their dreams despite adversity and pursuing the goal of being on the big stage with the bright lights. 

“Although everyone in the audience might not have been a performer, everyone can relate to overcoming rejection,” Green said. “I wanted to celebrate these obstacles in a positive outlet. It isn’t something we can avoid, but it’s something we can learn and grow from.” 

Audience member and senior English major John Modica believed that all areas of discipline could resonate with the subject matter.

“It’s hard to deal with rejection. I’ve never gone to an audition. I’ve never tried out for a show, but I still think you can resonate with the feeling of ‘you’re not good enough’ because you didn’t get a certain job or part or something,” Modica said. “I really liked the message of being able to pick yourself up and go treat yourself to ice cream or go see a movie or go hang out with friends to make yourself feel better and to remind yourself that you’re good just how you are.”

“I think the cast worked extremely hard and everyone involved put their heart into the show,” Green said. “There is no shortage of talent at this school and I was so excited to be able to showcase this.” 

The show’s music directors were senior musical theater major Rachel Sherman and freshman musical theater major Dylan Erdelyi. The show also had its own Snapchat filter, designed by Green’s brother. 

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