DELMAR – The Town of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation department is searching for young performers to take part in the first-ever Thursdays in the Park High School Cabaret night. The cabaret event will take place Thursday, August 3, at Elm Avenue Park, 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Several months ago, Bethlehem Town Board Member David DeCancio reached out to the parks and recreation staff members Heather Maltby and Jason Gallo about the idea to host a high school cabaret night and that several Bethlehem High School students were interested in the idea.
Bethlehem High graduate Henry Reichman, a political activist and musician, also worked alongside DeCancio and several classmates to think of ideas to help get high school students back out and about in the community.
“I met with a couple of friends and Mr. DeCancio a couple months ago and we were thinking of ideas that would get high schoolers out and about in the community and out of their own houses and something that always drew people in high school are the cabaret nights that the high school does,” Reichman said.
Due to Covid, only a few cabaret events had taken place at the school. Bethlehem High School has many students who excel musically and Reichman thought by having a cabaret night could draw a crowd, help the youth get back out into the community, and increase community engagement he said.
Reichman wants to also battle against teenagers born in the Generation Z demographic who want to stay inside their homes more as they lack personal engagement on a daily basis. Many of Reichman’s peers didn’t take part in the school’s Eagle challenge for mental health and the winter dance due to lack of attendance.
Reichman wants to help his peers get off their screens, interact in their town with friends, and take part in fun community events that encourage people to come together.
History of the Cabaret
The idea of the cabaret came about as an experiment during a Bethlehem First Night around six or seven years ago. DeCancio, a member of Bethlehem Opportunities Unlimited, wanted to find out with the high school principal what high school students wanted to do for an event.
The high school principal and DeCancio created a Google poll with five to ten options of things that students wanted to do and the main thing that kept coming up was a cabaret-style night. Each First Night event attracted 35-40 students to perform in front of an audience.
Parents at the time praised DeCancio for the opportunity to perform as sometimes in school, their child may not be comfortable performing with their peers.
The cabaret event during the first night helped DeCancio create a town youth advisory council. Children and teens could voice their concerns about the things that are needed in their community in the council.
“We live in a great town but what can be done better? The students cited the fact that there is not a lot of programming for teens, it’s mostly for young kids, tweens, and adults.” DeCancio said. “I organized the meeting with Heather, Jason, and the kids and they sat around here, and spit balling ideas and cabaret just kept on rising to the top.”
Cabaret, according to DeCancio, was something that the children wanted to do. The event will also have the assistance of high school music director, Mr. Jason Dashew, who will provide sound and accessories for the students.
How to Sign Up For Cabaret
From now through July 20, Town of Bethlehem high-school age residents who wish to participate must have a household ID number to register for the cabaret through online registration or by contacting the parks and recreation office, (518)-439-4955, option 7. Each performer (or group) will have a 5–6-minute performance time slot and must bring their musical equipment to be used on the park’s mobile stage.
“I want people to sign up and want people to show up,” DeCancio said. “We want to celebrate our neighbors, see their talents, and bring people together.”
This story appeared on page 9 of the July 12, 2023 print edition of The Spot