Singing Volumes

Student-coordinated show raises scholarship money for music majors

Senior Jessalee Simonson performs Sweet Home Alabama for Cabaret XXXVI: Bookstore on Friday night. Cabaret runs through Saturday.

Photo by Elizabeth Jackson

Senior Jessalee Simonson performs “Sweet Home Alabama” for Cabaret XXXVI: Bookstore on Friday night. Cabaret runs through Saturday.

Applause echoed throughout the Ojibwe Ballroom as all four choirs took their final bow.

This past weekend the Concert Choir, Women’s Concert Chorale and The Singing Statesmen held their opening weekend of Cabaret XXXVI “Bookstore” with music provided by the UW-Eau Claire Jazz Program.

Close to 150 students were involved in the production between performers, musicians and technical staff.

Student directors began planning for this year after last year’s Cabaret production ended. Step one was deciding on a theme to base the show and music around — each of the performance groups chose a theme for their respective performance. One of the Women’s Concert Chorale’s performances sang songs related to romance.

“I chose ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’, ‘Natural Woman’ and ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ because they all show different aspects of being in love,” Women’s Concert Chorale’s Alyse Weber said. “I was mindful to choose songs that helped us to appear as the strong and confident women that we are.”

Among the performing students was senior Dane Jaskowiak, who performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

“Sarah Steffen suggested the piece to me the day of my audition. It’s something different for me since I usually do more pop-like songs,” Jaskowiak said.

While Jaskowiak sang the song, three dancers performed along side him. The dancers portrayed the story that went with the song, about the difference between what love is when two people were together and how it is when a relationship ends. The performance brought the audience to their feet in applause.

Cabaret is more than just a musical performance, it’s also a scholarship program for multiple students. Cabaret Productions has raised more than $300,000, which goes to students for scholarships. Each performer received a Cabaret scholarship worth $700.

Sebastian Armendariz was one of the 16 performers who received the Cabaret Scholarship.

“The scholarship goes to those who have contributed to Cabaret and the arts,” Armendariz said.

Cabaret also gives out an award each year to an individual who stood out and worked hard to put on the production. This year William Berendsen received the Cabaret Directors Award.

Throughout the production, each choral group has their own traditions that happen before or during the show. The Women’s Concert Chorale always stands off-stage and cheer on the Singing Statesmen while they perform.

“It really pumps us up and helps us stay in character during the performance,” Jaskowiak said.

 Before The Singing Statesmen perform Armendariz, who is one of the two student directors for the group, always gives the same pep talk.

“My pep talk is actually the pep talk from Miracle. I just try to make everyone forget the nerves and relax them. It’s good to have fun right before you go on stage,” said Armendariz.

Throughout all the hard work and countless hours of rehearsal the students truly love and look forward to their Cabaret performance. The students get to bond with other students, not only in their choir group but also in every group.

“It is a great practicum for our students to experience the show choir medium, said executive director Gary Schwartzhoff.

Cabaret XXXVI “Bookstore” will have shows Thursday, Jan. 23-24 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Ojibwe Ballroom.