Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper

FHS Press

Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper

FHS Press

Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper

FHS Press

Freedom Drama weaves nostalgia into musicalitty

Graduates come together for first annual Alumni Cabaret
Calla Reynolds
Pitch Perfect: Joyfully, alumn Dante Colorito sings “Moving Too Fast” from the musical “Last Five Years” on Oct. 14. Colorito played the “Beast” in Freedom’s 2018 “Beauty and the Beast” production.

For the first time in Freedom history, the musical talent within each graduating class was recognized in the auditorium on the evening of Oct. 14. On this evening, Freedom alums from various graduating classes came together to relive their high school drama careers. In addition to the performances, Drama Club sponsors Ms. Debrah Evans and Ms. Heather Giammaria spent the evening building up to the reveal of the 2024 musical. The two events were tied into one another, under the name of the Alumni Cabaret.

The idea of an alumni cabaret was brought about from Shelly and her daughter, Andrea Cary, who are both Freedom graduates. Shelly Cary’s husband, David Cary, participated in his alma mater’s alumni cabaret. Watching her husband’s performance inspired Shelly Cary to introduce the idea to Giammaria. 

Opening the cabaret was a former director at the high school, Mr. Dale Kline. Kline introduced the purpose of the event in his opening remarks, as well as the significance of drama in Freedom history. He then passed the microphone off to Giammaria, who thanked the staff and community for their continued support toward the drama program. Twelve different musicals were afterwards displayed on a screen — all possible options for the 2024 musical, and one of the possibilities was eliminated. The cycle of elimination continued after each performance.

“The directorial staff spent a good deal of time thinking about and discussing possible shows over the summer and early part of the school year. It is our belief that we need to see the talent that we have, and then choose the perfect show based around them,” Giammaria said. 

Following Giammaria’s segment was the first performer of the evening, Alyson Horner. Horner was a member of the 2020 graduating class, whose musical was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Horner was casted as the role of “Audrey” from the musical “The Little Shop of Horrors.” She performed “Somewhere That’s Green,” which is a song from the musical she did not have a chance to perform. The cabaret granted Horner, and students who were in similar situations, the ability to showcase her talent for the community. 

“It felt bittersweet, being able to perform a song I know was not only for me to perform but for my family and peers to experience as well, especially knowing how much they wanted to see me perform the song on stage back in 2020,” Horner said.

 Throughout the evening, alumni ranging from the class of 1988 to the class of 2023 made appearances on stage. Although, not every performer was able to return to the stage physically. Two alumni, Jessica McNear and Robbie Raso, sent in videos for the audience to watch on the night of the cabaret. 

The first virtual act, McNear, moved to Tennessee following graduation, where she continues to pursue singing and songwriting professionally. She sang “A Million Dreams” from the 2017 musical “The Greatest Showman.” The second virtual act, Raso, appeared shortly after the ten minute intermission. He, like McNear, pursued music professionally after graduation. Raso sang “If Ever Would I Leave You” from “Camelot.”

In addition to the two virtual performances, three graduates from the 2023 school year — Madison Sanders, Connor Tavern and Kyler Brown — returned only months after starring in the high school production of “Beauty and the Beast.” Sanders, who starred as “Belle” in the 2023 musical, performed a rock anthem titled “Dead Mom” from the musical adaptation of “Beetlejuice.” Brown, honoring his role as the “Beast” from last year’s musical, sang “Evermore” from the live adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Tavern strayed from his role as “Gaston” through his performance of “Hellfire” from Disney’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

The cabaret closed the evening after Ms. Jennifer Newman, the chorus teacher for middle and high school, sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” from the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” Following Newman’s performance, Evans and Giammaria eliminated the remaining musicals, revealing Freedom’s 2024 selection: “Matilda.” 

By coming together to celebrate generations of talent, Freedom alumni were able to showcase the musicality they harbored since high school. The alumni cabaret not only acknowledged the variety of talent in Freedom history but also fostered a sense of pride and unity amongst the community. 

“This was the foundation of something that can continue to connect current and past students, along with families and members of the community, for years to come,” Giammaria said.