Local teens hold cabaret to raise money for scholarship

ITHACA, NY-  In a heartfelt cabaret, a talented group of local teens will lift their voices in song to raise money for a music scholarship. The event, “Connectivity: A Body Song Story” will be held at the Black Box Theater at Ithaca High School on Saturday, March 18, at 2:00 pm. The performance will feature numbers from popular musicals interwoven with an original script. Homemade baked goods will be available for purchase.

Current Members of Body Song Voice Studio (left to right, back to front): Ari Cummings, Emma Ellis, Jasper Fearon, Howard Kraskow, Imri Leshed, Addy Whitener, Rachel Frank, Sharon Costianes (founder and teacher), Christian Henry, Kristin Zaryski (accompanist)

Current Members of Body Song Voice Studio (left to right, back to front): Ari Cummings, Emma Ellis, Jasper Fearon, Howard Kraskow, Imri Leshed, Addy Whitener, Rachel Frank, Sharon Costianes (founder and teacher), Christian Henry, Kristin Zaryski (accompanist)

The cabaret’s theme is the yearning to connect with others and build relationships between lovers, friends, sisters, and mentors. The script was written by Rachel Frank, a junior at Newfield High School, who has also written two published novels. According to Frank, the joy of love and the discord of heartbreak will be reflected in the cabaret songs, like “When He Sees Me” from Waitress, and “What You Mean to Me” from Finding Neverland.

The goal of the cabaret is to help young singers gain vital experience through private lessons, group rep classes, and in performance. All the cabaret performers are voice students at Body Song Voice Studio, founded and run by Sharon Costianes, which will administer the scholarship.

Previous scholarship recipient Christian Henry said that receiving the scholarship at Body Song “has really made it possible for me to be successful. Without these lessons I would not be the performer I am today.” Henry recently had a lead role in Opera Ithaca’s “Thumbprint.”

Laura Fegely, another scholarship recipient, said that “being in Sharon’s studio helped me so much with my self-confidence. Monthly rep class helped me learn to sing in front of people.” Fegely is now pursuing a BFA in musical theater at Viterbo University.

“This program is geared to really support students who love to perform. They work hard to hone their craft both as vocal technicians, and as actors,” said Costianes. “It’s demanding work. And they love it! So do I. It’s an honor to work with them.”

The scholarship fund was established in 2013 for teens who can’t afford the private lessons necessary to succeed as a vocalist performer. The idea came from students who wanted to see their talented but less fortunate friends have access to the same level of training they themselves enjoyed. The teens hope to raise enough money from the Connectivity cabaret to fully support at least one student’s tuition next year.

“We wanted other kids to have the opportunity we’ve had to learn vocal training in such a good environment,” said Keara Byron, a Body Song alumna now pursuing a BFA in musical theater at Ithaca College.  

All the teens performing in the cabaret are also active members of Ithaca’s theatre community. Many of them have starred in school plays, Running to Places productions, and regional professional theatre. Some of them also sing with the Ithaca Children’s Youth Choir and Vitamin L, as well as their school choirs.

Admission is free, but donations will be requested for admittance.

For more information, send an email to  sharon@bodysongcenter.com or call (607) 227-7590.