COAL CITY — When Cabaret Night first started 20 years ago, it was mainly an event for the 11 people in Footnotes show choir that year.
To give you an idea of how much the event’s grown since then, auditions to be a part of the 29-act bill lasted from 6 p.m. until well after 1 in the morning.
“It’s a huge turnout,” said Bonnie McDowell, vocal music director at both Coal City Middle School and the high school. “It’s grown into such a big event.”
The event showcases students and community members as they sing, dance, rock out or perform stand-up comedy — think of it as a community-wide talent show.
For those who made the cut, the night is also a chance to show off their skills and to further bond with friends.
Allison Norris, an eighth-grader at Coal City Middle School, said getting to perform with her friends is part of the fun.
“Everyone’s really supportive of everyone else,” Norris said, standing among many of those friends. She’ll be performing as part of a dance ensemble.
But, she said, another great thing about performing is practicing until the routine becomes instinct.
“When you’re performing on stage, you feel like you’re in your own world,” Norris said.
For many of the students, it’s an opportunity to get back onto the stage following their most recent play.
One of them, fellow eighth-grader Destiny Horkavy, is antsy to do just that.
“I’m excited to be on stage again,” Horkavy said. “It’s a great feeling being out there.”
After auditions, a list of those selected was posted in the hallway.
It was like being selected for a team, the students said.
“You just want to scream,” said Elaina Bach, also an eighth-grader. “It’s so exciting.”
Now with the event coming up, there’s some nervousness mixed into the excitement.
Joey Fatigante, an eighth-grader who will be performing a vocal solo, said he is nervous, but anticipates a strong performance.
“I think I’ll do well,” Fatigante said.
For McDowell, that’s one of the best parts of the event — the fact that students choose to overcome their nervousness.
“I feel good that I’m doing something that intrigues them,” McDowell said. “That they all try out and practice and perform, that means you’re instilling a sense of security in them.”
Cabaret Night 2013 begins at 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday, April 25. Tickets go on sale at 5 p.m., and McDowell advises getting there early because the 800-seat auditorium frequently sells out.
“It’s a great night of entertainment for you and your family and friends,” McDowell said. “It’s exciting, funny. Just non-stop entertainment.”