The Beat Goes On: Ramapo’s Annual Cabaret Night

Kathryn Haig, Editor In Chief

Music is love and heartbreak, friendship and solitude, warm fantasies and cold realities. It is every color, every breath – a salty ocean breeze, a cool mountain wind, a thundering squall. Music is emotion, and the students and teachers of Ramapo certainly know how to strike a chord.

Held on Friday, March 10 in the cafeteria, the Annual Ramapo Music Showcase, better known as “Cabaret Night,” provides a platform for Ramapo musicians to share their remarkable talents. Boasting a large crowd, this year’s Cabaret Night featured the Ramapo Jazz Band, the Ramapo Choir, the cast of Urinetown, teacher band MC2, and a number of individual performances, student bands, and duets. Mr. Greg Hudak, a guitarist and vocalist for MC2, believes that “[Cabaret Night has] given me an opportunity to work with real musicians and have a creative musical outlet despite not having a particularly strong technical aptitude for music.” Senior Constantine Rutigliano, a member of Choir, praised the event as “a great way for young musicians to put their talent out there, but also a great way for people to really appreciate music.”

Introduced by senior Gaby Tanen, the host of the showcase, the Ramapo Jazz Band commenced the night with “I Want You Back,” originally performed by The Jackson 5 and arranged by John Wasson, followed by “Twinkle Little Star” (arranged by Tom Kubris) and a rendition of Celia Cruz’s “La Vida un Carnaval” (arranged by Dave Rimelis). The group is made up of Julia Drob, Leo Fornasieri, Ariana Giammanco on alto sax, James Wong and Lucas Conrad on tenor sax, Colin Wichmann on bari sax, Daniel Garland, Jacob Lleonart, Conner Layng, Giada Gareffa, and Cole Bickford on trumpet, Lauren Fleissner and Haruka Miyazaki on Clarinet, Felissa Ouidad, Matthew Sabino, Logan Goldsmith, and Ryan D’Alessio on trombone, Benny Purisima on drums, Ryan Kossak on aux percussion, Eddie Tappan on vibes, Colin Tubbs on guitar, Jake Bley on bass, Sebastian Dash on piano, and Clara Bennet-Jones as manager. Giammanco, a senior saxophonist and first-time flute soloist for “Twinkle Little Star”, “look[s] forward to Cabaret Night every year! It’s so much fun to perform in the Jazz Band as an opening act, perform in a student-made saxophone ensemble, and watch the other performances the rest of the night!”  Giammanco, alongside fellow saxophone players Fornasieri, Colby Koultrakos, Drob, Conrad, Lucas Baita, Wong, and Wiechmann and director Mr. Erik Sloezen, organized an ensemble performance, in which they played “Petite Sweet” by Karen Street. Ramapo’s Choir went on to perform Carole King’s “Chains” with Sasha Munroe on the piano, Julia Drob on the guitar, and senior Mary Regan on the tambourine. The Choir includes Ava Armando, Lucy Balaam, Giuliana Britnell, Natalie Byers, Rebecca Calderon, Michaela Cherry, Rachel Cirrito, Marissa Colangelo, Jenna Conway, Julianna D’Andrea, Alyssa Del Valle, Drob, Julia Elliott, Lauren Fleissner, Bryan Fortunato, Ellison Grant, Alexandra Hupart, Kayla Kanefke, Alexia Koulikourdis, Taylor Loia, Sandra Miele, Munroe, Katie Oh, Samuel Ornstein, Nicolette Pecorelli, Martin Pinzas, Francesca Randazzo, Regan, Rutigliano, Tanen, Anthony Traficant, Alexis Ulmer, and Jenelyn Valdiva.

Each impressive in their own right, individual performances included Tanen singing “Take Me to Church” with Drob again on the guitar, Rutigliano singing “The Loneliest,” Del Valle singing “Loyal Brave True” from Mulan, Ulmer singing “Home” from Beetlejuice, songwriter Sasha Corlette singing and playing the guitar for her very own “Listen,” a duet between Corlette and close friend Colangelo for Corlette’s “Who We Are,” a duet between Julia (saxophone) and Michael (violin) Drob for “Dos Oruguitas,” and Regan singing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” Having performed “The Loneliest” on his own, Rutigliano admits that “it’s nerve-racking to perform […], but it really does make you feel more comfortable when you’re in front of your peers.”

Singles and duets turned into student bands. The first group, which included senior Byers on vocals, senior Bley on guitar, senior Tubbs on bass, and sophomore Purisima on drums, performed Colin Tubbs’ original “Blues Again.” Tubbs and Purisima returned to perform Lunar Vacation’s “Unlucky” with vocalist Colangelo and guitarist Allie Park.

A sneak peek at the spring musical, Urinetown, with “Run Freedom Run” was led by Fortunato as Bobby Strong and executed with unparalleled enthusiasm, energy, and skill.

Succeeding the talented cast of Urinetown was Ramapo alumni Mr. Steve Palmieri, who – between his performances of Celtic Thunder’s “The Dutchman” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” – made a donation of $2,000 to the Music Parents Association courtesy of the Class of 1971. Having had to push back their reunion three times during the COVID-19 pandemic, class members made their deposits only to realize the event would not be held. Many refused a refund, insisting that Mr. Palmieri keep the money, which he chose to give back to the school they all loved.

Interspersed between incredible performances, Tanen returned to the mic to draw tickets for the event’s annual basket raffle, the winners of which included a number of lucky Ramapo students, their relatives, friends, and teachers.

The faculty band closed out the night with “Lola,” “Kansas City,” “10th Ave,” and “Any Way You Want It.” Mr. Hudak, Mr. Rick Albanese, Mr. Rick Sawyer, and Mr. Rich Chetnick of MC2 were joined by Mr. Mark Fiedman, Mr. Sloezen, Mr. David Russell, Mr. Peter Touhy, Fornasieri, Garland, Lleonart, Sabino, Ouidad, Purisima, Austin Hudak, and Ramapo alumni Luke Giammanco for their much-anticipated finale: a vivacious clap-along, sing-along rendition of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music.”

Cabaret Night is the heart and soul of Ramapo, dedicated to providing a safe space where students, teachers, and alumni can share their love of music. Whether one is performing or simply watching, everyone is tapping their feet, clapping their hands, and swaying to the music. Cabaret Night is an evening of pure fun. As Mr. Hudak says, “When else can a science teacher or history teacher tap into their inner struggling 14-year-old musician and jam with an elite professional horn section? Ramapo Cabaret rocks… it always has and hopefully always will.” Regan, in expressing her love of the unique event, claims “Cabaret Night is really fun! Everyone comes together to perform and it’s really great! It’s super lowkey too so it’s just a great way to perform with your friends!”  She, like Mr. Hudak and many of her fellow performers, “hope[s] it’s a Ramapo tradition that stays through the years!”


All photos can be seen in the Google Drive posted below: