On a night filled with surprises and memorable performances from the past and present, Union Catholic Principal Sister Percylee Hart, RSM, stole the show at the third annual Cabaret Night last Friday in the Union Catholic Auditorium.
With the packed house and cast members all in suspense over who the special guest performer would be, Nick Kraus (UC Class of 2002) came on stage for the final number of the night. Near the beginning of his performance, Kraus stopped to address the crowd.
“I’m really sorry,’’ said Kraus. “This is really embarrassing. It’s been 15 years since I’ve sang on this stage, and after a night of incredible performances, I’m feeling a little nervous. I don’t think its right after 15 years that I come back and sing alone. I need a little help from a friend, a good friend. Someone who has been with us every step of the way, pushing us to be our best, and without their guidance and their direction none of us would be here tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor and pleasure , and quite honestly a dream come true to introduce to you the “Hart” of the Union Catholic Performing Arts Company and the “Hart’’ of the UC Community.’’
And with that, Sister Percylee joined Kraus on stage, sending everyone into a frenzy as the crowd rose to its feet and let out a thunderous applause.
With cell phones lit up throughout the auditorium and the crowd buzzing with delight, Sister Percylee and Kraus performed “It’s DeLovely’’ from Anything Goes to close out the memorable night and send everyone home with big smiles on their faces and memory that’s sure to last a lifetime.
UC senior Brian Power, who directed a performance at Cabaret Night and serves on PAC’s Executive Board as the Social Media Coordinator, said no one had a clue that Sister Percylee would be the special guest performer.
“Even though I was part of the directing, I had no idea at all,’’ said Power. “They kept it a secret from just about everyone. I was backstage watching the livestream and I was so shocked when she came out. It was such a big surprise. Sister Percylee definitely stole the show. She topped everything. I came out to watch her, and I just smiled. What a great Principal. She’s one of PAC’s biggest supporters, so it was so nice to she her on stage, and she looked so happy, and that made me very happy.’’
Producer Mr. John Rotondo said seeing Sister Percylee come out on stage was a mesmerizing moment.
“I knew Sister coming out on stage would get a great reaction, but it was a difficult secret to keep,’’ said Mr. Rotondo. “It was such amazing to stand in the back of the house and see everyone leap to their feet when she came out.’’
There were several highlights on Cabaret Night, which was co-directed by Mrs. Maryann Carolan, and Mr. Edward Sagendorf, as several alumni returned to reprise numbers they performed during their UC days, and PAC gave a sneak preview of its Spring Musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Cabaret Night signified a big milestone for Mrs. Carolan, who is celebrating her 30th year as a director for UC’s Performing Arts Company. Mrs. Carolan, who made her directorial debut with Annie in 1988, was surprised at the reception that followed the show by two cast members from that 1988 Annie show, Tiffany Wilson, and current PAC parent Deana Toma Buchanan.
The opening performance, ‘’A Musical’’ from Something Rotten, featured Mr. Rotondo and Mr. Sagendorf, both UC Class of 2007, who returned to the UC stage for the first time since 2007. The number was directed by Power, was choreographed by seniors Angelino Carlo and Goldera Surles and junior Calah McCombs, and was under the music direction of senior Colleen Falconer.
“It was one of the first times that we had a completely student-led number,’’ said Mr. Rotondo, who said proceeds from Cabaret Night will go to UC’s Theater Development Fund. “And they did a great job. We’re very proud of them. They learned how to manage a large group of students, and learn from their mistakes, and make last second corrections.’’
Carlo, Surles and McCombs did additional choreography with current PAC choreographer Jeanette Rudnicki (UC Class of 2009) and Emily Eger Donohue (UC Class of 1998). Rudnicki also choreographed ‘’Cell Block Tango’’ from Chicago where she was reunited with performers from her years in PAC.
Power said directing was a dream come true.
“It was a dream come true for me because being a director is want I want to do in my life,’’ said Power. “I want to go to college for directing, so this was a perfect opportunity for me to step foot into the directing world. It was very exciting, and I was so lucky to work with such brilliant people. The choreographers really made it happen. They made the whole dance up, and I tweaked some things a little bit, and used the image in my head to bring it on stage. Everyone worked together so well and made the show work. I was a little nervous, but everything came together.’’
Falconer and Makay Johnson did solos, and juniors Molly Bonner (vocals) and Shaun Keating (piano) combined on a number.
UC junior Arianna Lurie, who saw PAC’s performance of Shrek when she was in eighth grade, performed in “I know It’s Today” from Shrek as she was able to fulfill a dream by performing with Catherine Coughlan (UC Class of 2014) and Kyra Bowes (UC Class of 2015), who performed in Shrek when Lurie was in the crowd.
Power said Cabaret Night, which attracted nearly 12,000 viewers to its livestream on the Union Catholic Facebook Page alone, is such a special event for so many reasons.
“Cabaret Night is so great,’’ said Power. “It’s such a cool idea because we get to interact with people who created the legend of PAC, and meet people who been leads in other shows, and get advice from lots of past PAC performers.''
Mr. Rotondo said it will be hard to top what happened on Friday.
“It always surprises me how we can bring together all of these different people from so many different years and bring it together seamlessly. I always say that I never thought we could top last year, but we did this year. But, I truly don’t know how we can top Sister Percylee joining us, but you never know. Cabaret Night has really grown and has become of the highlights of the year here at UC.’’