CRANFORD, NJ- The auditorium of Cranford High School was filled with beaming family and friends on Thursday night as members of the community congregated to watch the Opening Gala Concert.

Run by the administration, performing arts faculty, performing arts adjunct staff, and fine arts faculty, the show featured the entire company, concert choir, orchestra, academy acting, academy dance I, madrigal choir, jazz ensemble, academy dance II/III, marching band and the new acapella group,

While the“Star-Spangled Banner” opened the gala, songs ranged from Horace Silver’s “Fantasy on Simple Gifts” from the orchestra to Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” from the yet-to-be-named acapella group.

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The acting academy performed one minute skits, with the first half of their show “During New Year’s” and the second half “After New Year’s.” Pairs of students prepared short scenes and recited their lines without props. A new pair succeeded its former at each skit’s conclusion.

In an otherwise smoothly run show, the nameless acapella group began its rendition of “Shut Up and Dance” with a slight hitch, as the singers began in the incorrect key. A few verses in, they collectively agreed to stop, offering the audience a light-hearted and apology before starting again.

“After our first performance and our first few weeks of rehearsal, I am absolutely excited to see what this group has in store for the rest of the year and way beyond that as well,” CHS senior Max Kopla said. “With our new incredible director, Ms. Magnus, I am positive nothing but improvement and talent will shine out of this new group of insanely talented singers.”

The new acapella group is a combination of Women’s Ensemble and Noteworthy Gentlemen, the previous elite women’s and men’s choirs, respectively, and had only three rehearsals before their maiden performance.

“After being in the Noteworthy Gentlemen for two years, I have the honor to participate in the very first year of Cranford High School’s co-ed acappella group,” Kopla said. “Throughout my past two years of participating in Cranford acapella I was able to achieve so much as a personal performer, but also working with a group. Now with this new co-ed acappella group I look forward to doing all of this at a completely new and higher level.”

The marching band also had a particularly moving performance as each member lined the room, creating an pulse that reverberated throughout the auditorium. Donned in their uniforms, a strong level of professionalism and confidence exuded from the band.

Aside from the musical performances, Anthony J. Rafaniello, host and supervisor of the performing and fine arts department, shocked the audience with his announcement of the upcoming musical, Legally Blonde, by whipping out a blonde wig in the style of protagonist Elle Woods.

Next on the calendar is the play “You Can’t Take It with You” in the CHS auditorium on Nov. 17 and 18. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the door. Senior citizens will receive free entry on Nov. 16 for the dress rehearsal.

Emma-Rose Bacall is a student at Cranford High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Cranford.