Stepping In and Box Seats

This winter, I found myself glued to my computer screen one Saturday evening.

“What are you watching?” my confused roommate asked.

“It’s a show choir competition. Kenton is competing soon,” I replied without shifting my gaze from the screen.

As my roommate resumed whatever he was doing (and probably certifying me as half-insane) I watched the live feed as the technical side of Kenton Top Twenty’s show flopped, big time.

Knowing exactly how he was reacting, I resisted the urge to reach out to the group’s director and my friend Todd Daquino until the next day. I learned that the group had purchased a lighting system, and while they had help getting that off the ground, they needed a little assistance making sure it was running smooth. I stepped into that role.

As my colleague, Sheryl Johnson said, “you were dragged by a pinky.” She was right. I was pretty dang excited about it.

Little did I know, however, I was being dragged by my pinky into a trailblazing, landmark year for Kenton Top Twenty. The group has come off their most award-winning season in history (and after all this time, I experienced my first run at finals.) The stage crew that I helped to coordinate was the first runner up for best crew at a Sheridan Spotlight (I’m a pretty proud advisor.) We have every reason to be proud of these outstanding kids and call it a season.

But…we do this thing called Cabaret.

This week, my second favorite week of the year (behind the fair), I spent 52 hours at my alma mater coordinating the crew and running sound for Kenton Top Twenty’s 51st installment of Cabaret. This was my sixth show helping in “the booth” which consists of a small fraternity of men that have been staples at this event. John “The Legend” Simeon who advises all things technology, “Fingers” Elliott Lawrence (also referred to as “The Light God”,) Anthony McKee who is my partner in crime, Matthew Ketcham – who is the freshman member of the box – and myself.

Every year, I find myself questioning why I spend my week doing this show. This year was no different. Tuesday evening while preparing to start rehearsal, my entire system failed. I spent the rest of the night rebuilding it. It felt like most of those 52 hours were spent that night doing just that, only to wake up and drive to Columbus the next morning for work. Tonight reminded me why. It’s these darn kids. These members are inspiring. They are going to school, working jobs, engaging in their personal lives, some are graduating or worrying about final grades. While doing all of that, they still manage to prepare acts (or in the case of our crew, run the show.) The singer/dancers, A-Ccompany, and Crew are just awesome. These members are hardworking young ladies and gentlemen that work hard to achieve their goals. Clearly, it paid off. Obviously, I’m excited about the near future to see what the group is able to achieve in the next few years, but I’m much more excited to see what they achieve as the future leaders of our community.

It’s always a sentimental feeling driving out of Cabaret for the last time each year. Maybe a little more than normal this year. I’ve mixed for at least one of these seniors since I started my sound engineer career back in the 6th grade. This is the last of those that I had the opportunity of mixing from their middle school years on up. We’ve grown up together. Them as performers and myself as an engineer. And next year, when the last of them graduate, I’m sure it’ll be even worse.

My experience with the group was very untraditional. I spent two years in A-Ccompany. Then, I helped as an ex-officio crew member in my last two years in high school. While it was a roundabout way, I’m thankful for the time spent and memories made in my time involved with Top Twenty. I’m even more thankful for the opportunity to work with these fantastic and talented students. As the song goes:

Go as you must, but please don’t forget the yesterdays.

Time For Movin’ On – Traditional Cabaret Closing Number

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