SOMS Goes to the Ball
A fundraiser for the all-school musical, “Cinderella,” turned SOMS into a royal palace
"The Prince is having a ball," sings the chorus in a show-stopping number that features the entire cast of South Orange Middle School's "Cinderella." "The Prince is having a ball."
Even with the magic of theater, however, royal balls cost money. As a fundraiser for the all-school musical, the cast parents hosted "A Night at the Palace" at SOMS last Friday evening.
A volunteer effort, parents contributed baked ziti, beverages and desserts. Others offered their talents, supervising the "Palace Hair Salon," where students had their choices of updos, French braids and other glitzy styles. A mother read students' futures in tarot cards in the library, while others kept an eye on "Cinderella's Costume Closet," a dress-up room awash in boas and sparkles. Activities included bingo, dart throwing and a lively hula-hoop dance party on the stage of Sterling Hall auditorium. Participants also guessed the number of jelly beans in a jar. The prize was—fittingly—a large ball.
The "regal extravaganza" was a family affair. Adults and students paid a single price to eat and be entertained. The ticket was a yellow wristband, which was marked to show that each attendee had eaten the main meal, taken a beverage or had dessert. Desserts were popular, and a crowd of middle schoolers lingered at that table, choosing brownies and dress-shaped cookies after much deliberation.
A highlight of the evening was tossing wet sponges and "pie" made of shaving cream at teachers Elizabeth Harris, director of "Cinderella," and Music Director Don Tighe.
"It's fun to see people from the play when we're not rehearsing," said seventh grader Rachel. "It's different when we can just hang around and talk."
Despite the many choices, spending time and talking seemed to be the activity that most appealed to many adults. The hallway was filled with circular tables for dining, each decorated with glittery stars and a centerpiece.
"We don't see as much of the other parents as we would like," said Denise G., parent of an eighth grader. "The kids are very busy. This is a nice chance to sit down and chat."
The cast of "Cinderella" numbers more than 100, so "A Night at the Palace" was well-attended. It was modeled on last year's "Hoedown," which was inspired by the musical "Oklahoma," performed by the school a year ago.
"We learned what works," said a volunteer, rushing between activities.
The evening also provided students a break in the routine. The cast members rehearse three or more times each week, usually until 6 p.m. With performances just weeks away—"Cinderella" will be performed the last weekend in March—the pressure won't let up anytime soon.
In the school library, a scarved and be-ringed fortune teller offered tarot cards to an eighth grader. "Choose one for your past," said the sage, "then for the present and the future."
The past was a little murky in her reading, but the present and future seemed certain. "You will," said the fortuneteller, "find yourself on a large stage. And very soon." That's a prediction almost certain to come true for South Orange Middle School's "Cinderella" cast.
Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Cinderella" will be performed at South Orange Middle School's Sterling Hall auditorium on Friday and Saturday, March 26 and 27, at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, March 28, at 2 p.m. Tickets are available in South Orange at Kitchen a la Mode and The Messy Artist, at SOMS, or by calling 973-378-2772.