By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — It was the era of “Full House” and “The X-Files,” “Jurassic Park,” “Titanic” and President Bill Clinton. It marked the rise of grunge and the advent of Beanie Babies
The North Tonawanda High School chorale program will invite the public to return to that time with “The ‘90s are All That,” the 18th annual Cabaret, presented Friday and Saturday evenings with a Saturday afternoon matinee at the school.
About 120 students in three choirs, as well as small groups and individuals, will present 25 musical numbers, all hailing from the 1990s, said teacher Dean Vallas, who organizes the annual event. Participants include the high school chorale, Bella Voce (the women’s choir) and the Jacks & Jills, the advanced mixed chorus.
Vallas started the event upon his arrival at the school 18 years ago, trying to fill what was then a lack of events for music students.
“It started very small, in the high school cafeteria,” he said. “It was one show, just slapped together ... and then it kept growing and growing. And it continued to grow and grow and grow.”
The yearly theme for the event, which Vallas said is the only one of its kind in the area, is traditionally revealed after the last performance of the student musical in November. While Vallas sets the theme and chorale performances and introduces the show, most of it comes right from the minds of the students involved.
“I’m not out there conducting,” he said. “The audience will see me at the beginning — then the whole rest of the event is student-run. They take over. This is all them.”
Outside of the chorale routines, students audition for a spot in small groups, duos or solos. Those who earn inclusion on the bill control their Cabaret act, Vallas said. “They decide what their music will be, what their costumes will be.”
Past Cabaret themes have ranged from other eras (including the 1950s, the 1980s) to genres (country music, disco), artists (the Beatles, Michael Jackson) and other types of music (”No Business Like Show Business,” “Hurray for Hollywood,” “Salute to Disney”).
The 1990s-themed show will feature songs including “I Will Remember You,” the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe,” “Titanic’s” iconic ballad “My Heart Will Go On,” “All Star,” Disney’s “A Whole New World” and dip into country with “Any Man of Mine.” During a recent practice by the Jacks & Jills chorus, students rehearsed steps and movements to Madonna’s “Vogue” and Ricky Martin’s “Living La Vida Loca” numbers.
Heidi Matheis, a senior, said she has taken part in Cabaret all four years of her high school career.
“I love it. ... It might be stressful in the beginning, but in the end it turns out really well,” she said. “I think it will be popular. A lot of the high schoolers were born in the ‘90s, and a lot of their parents will remember being with their kids in the ‘90s.
“A lot of people will enjoy it, going back in time.”
Several students said the process for preparing for the event brings the chorale students closer together, comparing the group to a family.
“It brings people out of their shell,” said senior Miranda Cirrito. “A shy person, you’re not going to be able to tell they’re shy when they’re up on the Cabaret stage.”
Vedric Booker, a senior, said that the process is part of the fun.
“Getting to Cabaret is more fun than Cabaret itself,” he said. “Caberet is a lot of fun, but getting to Cabaret ... we all have a great time.”IF YOU GO • WHAT: North Tonawanda High School Choral Program presents the 18th annual Cabaret, "The 90s Are All That" • WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday • WHERE: North Tonawanda High School, 405 Meadow Drive • MORE INFORMATION: The even is reserved seating only; patrons sit at round tables of 10. Soft drinks, coffee, tea and small pastries will be served. Tickets are $8 for the evening performances and $6 for the matinee performance. The Parent Alumni Team is also sponsoring a theme basket raffle. • FOR TICKETS: Call 807-3644.