BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Nothing creates a bond like hours of time spent together under blinding lights while wearing pounds of makeup in order to put on a show. The mentally and physically challenging act of performing doesn’t come easy for everyone, but to freshmen Sophia Lombardi, Emily Koubek, and Abigail Mustacchi, it is second nature. The three students are active participants of  Performing Arts 5678, a Berkeley Heights theater group.

The theater group has found creative ways for its students to perform during the pandemic. The theater groups lively performances during a difficult time helps to raise the spirits of everyone who watches the performers.

Being the youngest child with two brothers, Koubek has learned to be loud and dramatic in order to get her family's attention, which makes her a great performer. Outside of performing, Koubek is passionate about experimenting with makeup and finds herself entranced by historical fashion. “I find it so interesting to see what people wore in the past. Like what's the difference between a corset and stays; it interests me so much,” Koubek said. 

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Koubek thrives on human connection which is why during this time of isolation, she can frequently be found on FaceTime. “My mom jokes that she can only ever see the top of my head,” Koubek said, regarding her video calls. Her love for human relationships allows her to easily connect with an audience while performing. 

Lombardi is a positive and well-read student, who participates in the entire spectrum of the arts. “I have always been a performer, mostly in musical theatre, although I have taken part in some voiceover and film projects. I started dancing and acting when I was four, and singing since before I could walk,” she said.

Lombardi enjoys creative writing, as her favorite parts of many songs are their meaningful lyrics. She loves connecting with her emotions, which explains why her favorite movie is Pixar's “Inside Out”. 

Working hard to better society, Mustacchi is in tune with the people and the world around her, as she is always looking for ways to improve society. “I am very passionate about the stuff I do. My friends and I sometimes go out and pick up trash. I really do anything I can to help the environment.” 

The young activist has been painting and drawing on her own since she was five. A very expressive person, Mustacchi confesses that she cries at every movie she watches. “People in movie theaters always think I'm crazy,” she said. 

Not only do they perform together, but the three students are great friends. Their shared experiences through Performing Arts 5678, such as caroling over the holidays and putting on a production of “Frozen” during the summer, create the common ground between the three friends.