Raise a glass to charity

Sophomore decision science major Jessie Benenson performs "All for You" from _Seussical the Musical_. (credit: Courtesy of The Thistle) Sophomore decision science major Jessie Benenson performs "All for You" from _Seussical the Musical_. (credit: Courtesy of The Thistle)

Scotch’n’Soda held its fifth annual Charity Cabaret, charmingly named Sips of Scotch, in Rangos Hall last Friday night. They raised $1,400 from ticket sales, and proceeds went to the Alumni Theater Company, a non-profit organization that provides the opportunity for Pittsburgh youth to participate in the performing arts.

Will Weiner, president of Scotch’n’Soda and a senior economics and statistics and decision science double major, said that the theater group is working on forming a lasting relationship with the Alumni Theater Company, since its mission is “something [we] really identify with.”

Whereas many cabaret-style shows can become monotonous presenting act after act, Sips of Scotch succeeded in keeping the audience engaged from beginning to end. Each performer had something different to offer, which positively contributed to the show as a whole. Performances included “All For You” from Seussical The Musical, sung by sophomore decision science major Jessie Benenson; “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar, sung by sophomore voice major Ethan Crystal; and “Gimme Gimme” from Thoroughly Modern Millie, sung by sophomore voice major Joanna Latini.

“It was actually kind of like a shotgun process,” said Cory Williams, a Sips of Scotch performer and junior information systems major, describing how the show was put together. Despite only having a couple of weeks between auditions and the show, as well as an extremely limited rehearsal schedule, the students managed to put on an excellent performance. The audience members praised the show for its variety; every performer was present on the stage at some point during the night. From dark humor to lighthearted romance and from the outrageously goofy to the passionately dramatic, the acts did well to demonstrate the theatrical and vocal diversity of the performers.

“Eric [Dietz], the music director, would coach them on their songs, and make them a little better than they brought them to the auditions,” said Stephen Murphy, the energetic accompanist of the night and a sophomore double majoring in piano and music composition. Dietz, a senior music composition major, organized the opening and final group numbers, which presented amazing harmonies and vocal talent. Dietz was pleased with the performers, and said, “They did a really wonderful job.”

A group of five students from the Alumni Theater Company opened the second act, performing “Seasons of Love” from Rent with impressive talent. The company puts a large emphasis on representing the lives of the youth through their shows, and also encourages student-written work. According to its website, the organization will be performing an original work, which opens next Friday, titled, Why Don’t You Come Around My Way?

Nigel Rowe, a junior voice major and Sips of Scotch performer, said, “It’s always a lot of fun working with Scotch’n’Soda,” due to the relaxed atmosphere and camaraderie among members. It was apparent through the performances that the students were enjoying themselves, which transferred to the enjoyment of the audience. Scotch’n’Soda did well to kick off its 75th anniversary year with this musical performance.