by Jason Mount
As the spookiest time of year quickly approaches, students gathered to celebrate Halloween with song and dance in “The Witching Hour” cabaret on Oct. 21, presented by Rider’s student-run drama organization, the Broncway.
The cabaret, directed by sophomore theater major Annie Challice, took songs from movies, such as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” as well musicals such as “Beetlejuice” and “The Addams Family” to celebrate the dark, macabre and strange.
As people walked into the Spitz Theater in the Fine Arts building, they would find the columns in the building wrapped in cobwebs, as powerful pink lights illuminated the space, casting an eerie glow on the audience. In the corner sat a piano and speaker playing pop music, adorned with styrofoam tombstones and small pumpkins in the spirit of the holiday. A single door stood in the back of the performance space, with black curtain on either side of it.
Junior acting major Kate DeLong, who saw “The Witching Hour,” remembered the inviting and invigorating energy moments before the show started.
“Walking in, I felt welcomed,” said DeLong. “The theme was very prevalent by the way the Spitz was decorated, and students were chattering excitedly about the upcoming performance. It created a very exciting atmosphere and I looked forward to seeing the show.”
The lights dimmed to darkness to start the show. Suddenly, two flashlights lit up the faces of freshman musical theater major Aubrey Alvino and sophomore musical theater major Caitlyn Klenner, as Magenta and Columbia from “Rocky Horror,” respectively. The show began with their performance of “Science Fiction/Double Feature.”
The show progressed with songs following the plotline of “Rocky Horror,” until there was a sudden interruption from the Sanderson Sisters from “Hocus Pocus.” Winifred, Mary and Sarah Sanderson were played by junior musical theater major Emma Harris, sophomore musical theater major Riley McGeary and junior theater major Lauren Rejent, respectively.
Rejent kicked off the witchcraft with a rendition of “Come, Little Children,” alluring the audience with bewitching vocals. Then, the sisters performed “I Put a Spell on You,” getting the eager viewers to sing and clap along with their incantation.
Rejent felt nervous before her performance, but quickly found the fun in playing a character everyone in the audience knew.
“It was a lot of pressure to get such an iconic character right, especially when there’s a lot of improv involved with the other characters,” she said. “But after the initial tentativeness it became really fun to just mess around with everyone on stage and it ended up being really rewarding.”
After the wicked sisters cast their spell on the crowd, they disappeared back through the center door as the “Rocky Horror” tribute continued.
While the cabaret had been high-energy and raucous for the night, moments of sincerity came when Jack Skellington, played by sophomore musical theater major Damon Vincenty, started singing “Jack’s Lament.” The slower pace of the song softened the overall mood, and made an excellent bridge into “Sally’s Song” sung by junior musical theater major Taylor Ruffo, who played Sally.
The Jack and Sally segment ended with sweetness as the two sang “Simply Meant to Be,” the romantic duet at the end of “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The couple then exited to the cheers of the audience.
The cabaret picked back up to an upbeat tempo, and included songs from other musical theater pieces including “The Addams Family,” “Mean Girls” and “Beetlejuice,” all to the satisfaction of the crowd members singing along in their seats.
Ending the cabaret was perhaps the most high-energy performance of the night, a full-cast act of “Time Warp” from “Rocky Horror.” The space filled with all of the characters seen throughout the night, as sophomore musical theater major Mark Quackenbush lead the song with powerhouse vocals and an ensemble of strong performers.
The cast of “The Witching Hour” took a bow as the audience shot up out of their seats to give a standing ovation. The Halloween spirit felt alive in the Spitz theater, and everyone left feeling treated rather than tricked.
Published in the 10/23/19 edition