For the 13th season of Music of the Night, Santa Barbara High’s annual student-produced musical showcase, the honor of being the show’s director was shared by four students: Clayton Barry, Mary Cusimano, Elli Harb, and Emilio Madrid-Kuser. In addition to directing, each of the four was also onstage at some point, joining the other 30 students who participated in this exciting event. Performing songs that covered a wide range of material, the young actors proved that they could sing the work of Stephen Sondheim just as easily as that of Alan Menken.
By allowing students to do more than one song from more than one show, Music of the Night showcased the adaptability and versatility of the actors. The ensemble provided a vibrant and awe-inspiring glimpse of the African savanna in “King of Pride Rock” from The Lion King, which quickly transitioned into the hilarity of “I Am Africa” from The Book of Mormon. Nicky (Nick Blondell) and Princeton (Griffin Saxon), characters from the witty modern musical Avenue Q, performed “The Money Song,” with an over-the-top comedic sensibility, complete with a shower of fake money on the audience. Right afterward, a somber air swiftly settled onstage as three Tonys (Gabe Kaster, Dante Gonzales, and Tyler Newman) and three Marias (Lydia Nelson, Emma Robins, and Christina Buchanan) sang the tragic “Somewhere” from West Side Story. The hunchbacked Grandma of the delightfully dreadful Addams Family (Grace Apostolopoulos) reappeared later as the daughter Natalie singing the closing number from the emotionally raw Next to Normal. With songs and emotions from all over the spectrum, these actors prove that they can do it all, and all in one night.