By the Students, For the Students: Why the SCDS Musical Showcase is the Best Thing at Stern

By: Sarale Goldberger  |  May 10, 2024

By Sarale Goldberger

Spring 2024 in Stern College for Women: halls are bustling with fresh-faced shana-beters. Empty classrooms are echoing with the ghosts of professors on sabbatical. Rosters are full with Judaics, gen-ed’s, and major courses. Yet, the only thing on my mind as I enter this new semester, the thing I’ve been anxiously awaiting since the lights blinked out and the clapping died down one year prior, is the SCDS Spring Musical Theatre Showcase. 

The musical showcase is not just a place for staple SCDS members to have an outlet for their creative passions or for fall play actresses to show off their triple-threat talent. Though it is all of those things, the musical showcase is better known as an opportunity for students who have never been a part of SCDS before to explore their talents outside of their chosen majors. I myself am a computer science major, but singing has always been my foremost passion. The musical showcase is a unique opportunity for me to exercise this talent, creating something beautiful and unforgettable.

In recent years, the showcase has also been known as an opportunity for backstage crew from the SCDS fall play to get their big break. Last year I was the assistant stage manager of the fall 2022 play, The Mousetrap. I’ve always had a passion for acting and was involved with my high school production, but with my experience as a head of drama I knew that – let’s be honest – backstage is where the real fun happens. The play was a smashing success, and the memories I made painting the floor at 3 AM, throwing fake snow in the window during the first act, and in my seminal role as “the hand,” still bring a smile to my face. Yet when spring came around, with it came talk of the musical showcase, and that actress within me began to stir. When applications for musical director came out, I saw an opportunity to be involved in – to borrow from Hannah Montana – “the best of both worlds.” I directed and performed in three numbers; a Hamilton Medley, “Seasons of Love” from Rent, and “Breathe” from In the Heights. The beauty of being involved in something that’s created and run by the students, for the students, is that you really see where your efforts come to fruition. I’d never been as proud or happy as I was taking those bows with my performers. Needless to say, I waited all year to feel that same pride and joy again. And this year’s showcase was just the same.

I’m not the only tech-turned-performer the showcase has bared. Last year, Sound Tech Shalva Englander dazzled the audience with her rendition of Funny Girl’s “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” among her performances in a few other numbers. The musical showcase allowed Shalva to break out as a performer and this year she joined the play as a cast member. The audience excitedly awaited Shalva’s return to showcase, and she did not disappoint. In “Zero to Hero” from Hercules, directed by myself, she had show-goers jumping out of their seats, and her solo performance of “Burn” from Hamilton left us with tears in our eyes. I can say for myself that watching Shalva’s SCDS journey has been beautiful, delightful, and inspiring.

The tradition continued this year when Talia Feldman, Assistant Stage Manager of the fall 2023 play, rocked the house down as Danny from Grease and in “Back in Time” from Back to the Future. I think I speak for many when I say I’m excited to see more of her in the coming semesters. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I have all this free time on my hands to fill with club activities. My full class roster keeps me plenty busy. But I make the time. Between classes, and homework, and exams, I make the time. Because the memories I make laughing during practice, brainstorming resourcefully with set design, cheering on my fellow performers at run-through, and singing my heart out on show day – those are the memories that will stay with me when I leave Stern. Not that homework assignment I spent hours on only to hand in and never think about again, and definitely not that gen-ed I fought to stay awake in (no hate Socio 101, you’re just not my thing). 

The weeks of rehearsals leading up to the big performance are magical stolen moments of creativity, passion, and joy over a shared love of singing and dancing. Some of these performers have never met before, but by the end of the show they have made new friends, or at the very least a friendly face to say “Hi” to in the halls. My favorite numbers are the ones that are collaborative, where performers really show up with ideas for choreography and harmonies. These embody what showcase is really about; coming together to create something beautiful, making new friends along the way. 

I especially love having a hand in the production side of things, as I find it uniquely rewarding. It doesn’t hurt that working with the other showcase leaders has been a pleasure, a laugh, and a gift. I immensely enjoyed working alongside my fellow musical directors, Gillian Herszage, SCDS President, and Miri Granik, SCDS PR Executive. Tzivia Major, SCDS Production Executive, and dance choreographer for showcase was also a vital part of our team, and there was never a dull moment with this power group. These hard-working ladies deserve all the praise in the world. I’ll miss them next year when they graduate, and I hope, when I take up the banner, I make them proud. 

This year’s showcase theme was “A Journey Through Time,” and our incredible M.C.s, Eliana Diamond and Rivka Inger, SCDS Vice Presidents, led the way in our travels through the decades of musical theater history. Excitement soared with our opening number, “Zero to Hero”, which started us off in Ancient Greece BCE. Back-to-back solos by Shalva and Hayley Goldberg brought us through the 17 and 1800’s, where “No One Else” could have made our eyes “Burn with tears quite like they did, the talented queens they are. Dropped into the 1900’s we delighted in a nostalgic Fiddler on the Roof medley. The 1910’s gave us Music Man, with an opera-esque duet by the amazing McKenzie Kyte and Tamara Yeshurun, a pairing for the books. Back to Greece – no, sorry – Grease 1950’s where we ‘shoo bop bop’ed our hearts away with Summer Nights”. Our very own Gillian gave us a beautiful acapella moment in the 1960’s. Donna and the Dynamos welcomed us into the 1970’s with a stunning rendition of “Mamma Mia”. Jumping to the 2000’s, the High School Musical throwback was just what our childhood selves were looking for. “Requiem” from Dear Evan Hansen ushered in the 2010’s, and the decade mashup dance got the crowd going, tying everything together. We ended with a real show-stopper, “Back in Time”, a number I’ll forever be proud of (obsessed).

Performing and directing aren’t the only ways to get involved in showcase. Being an audience member is the other half of our “by the students, for the students” tagline. Yes, we do showcase for us, no matter how many people show up to watch. On show day, we get up on stage whether it be in front of two people or 200. But the latter number, looking out at a sea of smiling faces, a chorus of clapping – boy is it rewarding. Every single person who comes to watch showcase makes it that much sweeter and we appreciate it more than words can express. So thank you, to the creatives, the singers, the dancers. And thank you to the patrons, the audience members, who appreciate what we do. Your encouragement means the world. 

The show takes place in Koch Auditorium, all decked out with sound, lighting, and stage. That’s one of my favorite parts of showcase – its accessibility. As an audience member, it means walking a few steps from the library and spending your study break at an unforgettable, exciting, and FREE show! As a performer, it means you can end class at 6:00 PM and still be on stage at 7:30. Showcase is open to every student at Stern (and any female friends and family members that want to come enjoy the show)!

With finals ahead and the spring 2024 semester coming to a close, I can’t help but feel nostalgic entering my senior year at Stern. But I know that although I may be leaving these hallowed halls next year, the memories I make with SCDS and the musical showcase will never leave me. 

Until next year,

Sarale Goldberger

(P.S. Thanks for the quarters, Walgreens.)