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Whiteaker choirs prep for annual cabaret bonanza

By MATT RAWLINGS
Of the Keizertimes

Ken Collins Theatre at McNary High School has been the host of numerous great local productions by students in the Keizer community. 

They’ll have one more to add to the list next week.

The Whiteaker Middle School choir program will be performing their annual cabaret concert on Thursday, Feb. 21 and Friday, Feb. 22 with each show beginning at 7 p.m.

The concert will feature more than 200 singers and five different choirs.

“We plan to put on a highly entertaining, high energy show that will keep the audience entertained throughout the night,” said co-director Andy Thomas. “People will be blown away with the quality of our production.”

Thomas has been the director the Whiteaker cabaret for each of the last 12 years. But since he has also taken a choir teaching job at McNary High School this year, he will be receiving some assistance in the form of Rebecca Hollen, the show’s other co-director. 

“It’s been a little bit of an adjustment for Andy and I to work together to make this program go, but it has been so great being here so far,” Hollen said. “The kids are so excited and it’s fun to work with excited kids. This is one of their favorite parts of the year.”

Hollen, who is in her first year as a choir teacher at Whiteaker, spent the last eight years teaching at Walker Middle School and even won a Crystal Apple Award in 2015. 

“It’s been absolutely amazing to have her,” Thomas said of Hollen. “She is a phenomenal director and a phenomenal person. She is just great to have in our program.”

The concert will feature musical numbers from four  Broadway shows. 

Whiteaker’s boys and girls sixth-grade choirs, otherwise known as Wolverine and Bella Voce, will be performing songs from Oliver. The seventh and eighth-grade girls group, which is an intermediate group called Audacity, will be singing numbers from Motown.

The seventh and eighth- grade advanced concert choir (viva voce) get the opportunity to sing songs from Mamma Mia! K-Town, which is the choir’s most advanced group, will be performing the melodies of Hairspray

“This is my first year in the viva voce choir, so I’m just really excited for our first really big performance,” seventh-grader Angelina Fajer said. 

A lot of middle school choirs might just stand on the risers and sing in their robes that match school colors. But Whiteaker’s performances not only involve 70’s themed neon costumes, but rehearsed choreography as well.

“The choreography is very fun and active,” said Whiteaker seventh-grader Logan James. 

Eighth-grader Cristian Garcia also added: “The audience should expect a lot of lights and a lot of dance moves.”

While everyone involved hopes audience members are throughly entertained by the show, they also encourage the crowd to get involved with the music. 

“We really want our audience to be pumped up,” eighth-grader Maddie Kurz said. “We’re going to want them to dance and we’re going to want them to sing along. It’s going to be one awesome party.”

Tickets will be $10 at the door, but can also be purchased online at McNary-Theatre.Ticketleap.com or at the Whiteaker Middle School main office. Dessert will be served after the show. 

The money will be used as a fundraiser for the Whiteaker choir program.