Cabaret For A Cause shines a spotlight on young stars

On Monday, September 18, Cabaret For A Cause will hold a benefit for Story Shifters at the Metropolitan Room in NYC. We spoke to some of the talented young stars who will be performing at this event; Carly Gendell, Rileigh McDonald, Taylor Richardson, Mckayla Twiggs and Sarah Charles Lewis.

Created by Tiffany Schleigh in 2010, Cabaret for a Cause is a NYC-based event series that brings together young professionals from Broadway, film and television for an evening of dance and vocal performance. The goal is to provide a positive environment where young people can work together and use their talents to raise funds and awareness for those less fortunate.

Carly Gendell

Broadway credits: School of Rock

How did you get involved in Cabaret for a Cause?
About a year and a half ago, Tiffany Schleigh (founder of CFAC) direct messaged me on Instagram and invited me to perform in their summer show. I was so excited, but at that time I was still in School of Rock and had a conflict, so sadly I had to wait. Fast forward to November 2016 and a new Cabaret for a Cause show was becoming the talk of the Broadway kid town. In this show, all the acts were performed in duets or groups, enforcing friendship and teamwork which is so important in this business. My good friend Diego Lucano needed a partner, so I stood and sang by his side!

What will you be singing and why did you choose that song?
This time I will be singing “Gimme, Gimme” from Thoroughly Modern Millie. I chose this song because Millie is one of my ultimate dream roles and I think the song is a lot of fun to sing!

What was it like being on Broadway?
It is CRAZY! Balancing school, a social life, and “Sticking It to the Man” eight times a week was one of the most challenging things that I have ever did. Although it was tough, it was so much fun and an amazing life experience! I hope to have the opportunity to perform on Broadway again and again–for me, there is nothing I would rather do!

Do you have a favorite memory or funny behind-the-scenes story from a show?
I have a lot of funny stories from backstage, but one of my favorites was when Alex Brightman performed an early April Fools prank on the Demon Rascals; he told us that two of the Jonas Brothers were coming to see the show. I got SUPER excited and replied “I LOVE CAMP ROCK!” Then he told me that Demi Lovato was coming as well—DEMI FREAKING LOVATO! Let’s just say I was not happy when I found out this was not true. (Check out this link: https://youtu.be/U2ZBY2wkdrc?t=5m30s)

If you could be stuck in an elevator with any Broadway star, who would it be?
I would choose Jessie Mueller because DEM PIPES THO!

Dream role:
Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie

When I’m not performing, you can usually find me…
Dancing at Dance Molinari! Ballet and Hip Hop are my favorites and I need to practice, practice, practice–those pointe shoes aren’t going to fill themselves!

What’s your favorite Broadway show?
It changes from week to week, but I am currently loving the soundtrack for Something Rotten! What a score!

What is the funniest joke that you heard recently?
Anything that Luke Bonenfant or Diego Lucano says!

If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?
I would be Stephen Colbert’s “Americone Dream” because of it looks like normal vanilla ice cream (and I look like a normal girl), but then you get these crunchy waffle cone pieces (which are like my energy)! Seriously, this ice cream will change your life!

Favorite Emoji?

Rileigh McDonald

Broadway credits: Matilda the Musical

How did you get involved in Cabaret for a Cause?
While I was in Matilda, I went to see a CFAC show to support several of my Matilda and other Broadway friends and I had such a great time! After I left Matilda, I reached out to Tiffany to see if I could join in on the fun. My first performance with CFAC was last summer at the 92Y street festival, and I have also participated in a few of the other volunteer opportunities CFAC provides. I especially enjoyed making toys and beds for shelter pets, because I am such an animal lover.

What will you be singing and why did you choose that song?
I will be performing, “Benny’s Dispatch” from In the Heights. I chose that song because I live in Washington Heights and it is such a great neighborhood. Lin-Manuel really captured the vibe of the neighborhood in the musical and I wanted to bring a little of that vibe to the CFAC show. Plus, I get to rap, so that will be interesting!

What was it like being on Broadway?
Exhilarating! I often had to pinch myself to remind myself that I was actually in a Broadway show. But, honestly, it was such a privilege to go to work each day. Working side-by-side with many of Broadway’s most accomplished performers and behind-the-scenes professionals was something I never took for granted. They made me want to “up my game” every day, and I’ll never forget all of the valuable lessons they taught me.

Do you have a favorite memory or funny behind-the-scenes story from a show?
One show, during my first “Acrobat Story” monologue, I stand on a big block and hold up two dolls (the Escape Artist and the Acrobat) and shake them slightly to emulate them talking to each other. They have floppy heads so that the audience can tell they are “talking.” Well, during this particular monologue, as I held up the Escape Artist and shook him slightly to make his head wobble, his head fell off! So, I had to keep a straight face and continue as if nothing happened, while the head rolled across the floor. It was hilarious!

If you could be stuck in an elevator with any Broadway star, who would it be?
Well, I have been stuck in an elevator before, but if I had to do it again, I would like to be stuck with Laura Dreyfuss from Dear Evan Hansen.

Dream role
Annie Twilloil from The Play that Goes Wrong.

When I’m not performing, you can usually find me…
… in the audience at a Broadway show or at home making slime.

What’s your favorite Broadway show?
Groundhog Day.

What is the funniest joke that you heard recently?
Well, it’s visual, so…
Question: Guess who this is?
Answer: VLAD THE INHALER!

If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?
I would be chocolate, because it is my favorite ice cream and it’s important to like yourself.

Favorite Emoji?

Taylor Richardson

Broadway credits: Annie

How did you get involved in Cabaret for a Cause?
I first performed with Cabaret for a Cause in 2013. The benefit was for Story Shifters, a program that brings theater experiences to kids with Autism and other special needs. Autism awareness is a cause very near to my heart as I have family impacted by Autism and I have seen the benefits the arts have on this community first hand.

What will you be singing and why did you choose that song?
I will be singing “For Forever” from Dear Evan Hansen. In the darkest of times, having a friend to lean on can make all the difference in the world and that is exactly what Evan wishes he had as he fabricates this story. The music is beautiful and I think the underlying story it tells is universally relatable.

What was it like being on Broadway?
Being on Broadway was an amazing, inimitable experience. It took a lot of hard work and dedication, but performing on stage with people I love was a joy and absolute dream come true, making everything worthwhile.

Do you have a favorite memory or funny behind-the-scenes story from a show?
Everyone knows the iconic moment when Annie first walks down the mansion stairs in her red dress. During one performance, I fell down the stairs. I don’t mean a little stumble, I mean a solid 7 step fall landing right on my bum. Luckily, I was completely fine, but no one was able to keep a straight face for the rest of the scene.

If you could be stuck in an elevator with any Broadway star, who would it be?
Lin Manuel Miranda. . . Broken Elevator: The Musical, let’s go.

Dream role:
Elphaba in Wicked or Evan in a non-gender specific production of Dear Evan Hansen.

When I’m not performing, you can usually find me…
…writing screenplays and songs, taking photos, or infiltrating Darth Vader’s secret lair with my little brother.

What’s your favorite Broadway show?
Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, or Spring Awakening. It’s impossible to just choose one.

What is the funniest joke that you heard recently?
How does the man in the moon cut his hair? Eclipse it!

If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?
Well, I’m lactose intolerant so I think I’d have to be a strawberry sorbet.

Favorite Emoji?

Mckayla Twiggs

Broadway credits: Once • Les Misérables • Anastasia

How did you get involved in Cabaret for a Cause?
When I was in Les Miz 3 years ago, Tiffany reached out to my mom and invited me to perform at one of her events. I love participating. Getting the chance to perform for great causes is awesome!

What will you be singing and why did you choose that song?
I chose to sing “Finding Wonderland” from the show Wonderland because I love to sing pop.

What was it like being on Broadway?
Being on Broadway is like a dream come true. It’s super exciting when the show starts each night!

If you could be stuck in an elevator with any Broadway star, who would it be?
If I were ever stuck in an elevator, I hope it would be with Ben Platt.

Dream role:
My dream role is to play Cinderella from Into the Woods.

When I’m not performing, you can usually find me…
…dancing and doing gymnastics.

What’s your favorite Broadway show?
My favorite Broadway show is Lion King.

What is the funniest joke that you heard recently?
Question: What do you call a man who lures women into his place and turns them into ghastly freaks?
Answer: A 1980’s hairdresser.

If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?
My favorite ice cream flavor is Cotton Candy.

Favorite Emoji?

Sarah Charles Lewis

Broadway credits: Tuck Everlasting

How did you get involved in Cabaret For A Cause?
Last January I connected with Cabaret for A Cause during BroadwayCon. BroadwayCon contacted me to participate and speak about my experience as the leading role in Tuck Everlasting. During the planning process, Tiffany then reached out as the specific organizer of the (kid) panels, so that was really cool! I didn’t know CFAC was also involved in BroadwayCon when I accepted the job, so it was super awesome to actually be a part of both 🙂 When I first met Tiffany in the lobby to gather for our panel, she immediately hugged me and it was like we already knew each other. I felt like I was part of her family. Then, she invited me to come and sing at the Metropolitan Room. I have never performed with Cabaret for A Cause so it’s really an honor for me to be a part of such an incredible cause and surrounded by so many talented people. I’m very excited!

What will you be singing and why did you choose that song?
I chose “Used to be Mine” from Waitress, because Jessie Mueller has always been one of my Broadway idols. We got to know each other during many trips while promoting our shows and even ended up rehearsing in the same space, since Tuck Everlasting and Waitress opened in the same season. I remember always watching her perform that song and thinking, I want to be like her. Every time it was Jessie’s time to sound-check, the entire cast would drop what they were doing to go watch her. Her voice is so powerful, emotional and perfect and her acting is equally unreal.

In addition, the composer Sara Bareilles, is one of my all-time favorite artists and the show Waitress, is top on my Broadway show list, too!
I can see myself playing that role.

So, with that combination I felt like it’d be a great choice for me to sing it at the Metropolitan Room for Cabaret for A Cause! Can’t wait!

What was it like being on Broadway?
Making my broadway debut in Tuck Everlasting was AMAZING, and a dream come true. It still feels like an actual dream to me. I can’t answer that question briefly or unemotionally… maybe I’ll write a book one day.

Do you have a favorite memory or funny behind-the-scenes story from a show?
Yes! Back stage before the show, all of stage left and I would peel stuff… let me explain, so we would do a chant that goes like, “peel bananas, peel, peel bananas and we go bananas, go, go bananas.” It’s kinda hard to explain, lol, but we would do it with as many fruits as we can. We would jump while we chant to get ourselves all warmed up. It was so much fun and so silly and a great memory.

If you could be stuck in an elevator with any Broadway star, who would it be?
I don’t know! Definitely a legend so I could hear cool stories, or maybe someone really funny so I could laugh and not think about being trapped…hmmmm. I’ll get back to you on that one! Ha!

Dream role:
Jenna from Waitress, because of all the reasons above … or Elphaba from Wicked, because I want to play a big powerhouse vocal role like her one day. I LOVE singing “Defying Gravity” and “The Wizard and I.”

When I’m not performing, you can usually find me…
Dancing and hanging out with my friends and family.

What’s your favorite Broadway show?
My favorite Broadway show is a tie between Dear Evan Hansen (because it’s just incredible and I’ve seen it twice) and probably WICKED (because it was one of the first Broadway shows I ever saw and I won the lottery for the front row!)

What is the funniest joke that you heard recently?
I haven’t heard a good one lately…

If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?
I’d be chocolate chip cookie dough, because duhh, it’s the best flavor!!!

Favorite Emoji?

2017-09-19T02:06:54+00:00 September 18th, 2017|Broadway, Cabaret, Interviews, Musicals, Wiz Kidz|0 Comments