Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Road to Kids for a Cause

When I was in fourth grade, Random Farms announced a new program called “Kids Who Care.” It was described as a 30-minute musical performance that would bring smiles and joy to all those for whom we performed.

Immediately, I fell in love with the idea and signed up for my audition. I was really nervous as it was only my second audition ever.  However, it was so important for me to do this program, so I put on a brave face and went for it.

At my audition, I sang the audition song, “I Got the Sun in the Morning” from Annie Get Your Gun and we did a short combination to “I Got Rhythm” from Crazy for You. These very songs are still used for our auditions today. I felt very confident after my audition and anxiously waited for the cast list. I got in and was cast as “Kid 9”!

The first year went by quickly. We performed at the Random Farms Gala, Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center, Wartburg Adult Care Community, and Cedar Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. We had an added performance at a shelter in The Bronx. Not only did I get to sing my duet, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” but I also took over for “Kid 3” and sang “The Trolley Song” from Meet Me in Saint Louis. We even performed in Times Square at “Tunes in Times Square” with the Magical Music for Life Foundation, and that same day we performed on FOX News.

The next year, “Kids Who Care” changed to “Kids for a Cause” for copyright reasons. There were less kids and some songs like “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Spamalot, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story, and our finale from Gypsy “Together Wherever We Go” were cut. I was cast again, but this time as “Kid 11.” My duet that year was “I Got Rhythm” from Crazy for You. That year we performed at Sunshine, Burke Rehabilitation Center, Atria Senior Living, and Yonkers Community Action Program. My grandfather once went to Burke, so that performance was my favorite of the year, especially when some of the audience members remembered “The Miracle Man.”

Last year was probably my favorite year so far. My role was “Kid 1,” and I sang “Put On a Happy Face” from Bye Bye Birdie and “The Trolley Song” from Meet Me in Saint Louis. My cast was full of my friends. We performed at Westhab PEAK Center, The Abbott House, and The Westchester Center for Independent and Assisted Living. When performing at the Abbott House, I not only performed “Put on a Happy Face” and “The Trolley Song,” but I also filled in for “Kid 3” and sang “Friendship” from Anything Goes.

This year I am playing “Kid 10.” I finish with Kids for a Cause next year, and it’s killing me. I am the only original cast member left, so it will be hard to go without doing this program. This year, I am singing “Seize the Day” from one of my favorite musicals Newsies. My cast will be performing at Atria Senior Living, Coachman Family Center, and Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center.

Kids for a Cause makes me feel happy, that I am doing something good. It’s an accomplishment to be performing with this group. I cannot thank Julie and Anya enough for casting me in this show for the first time three years ago and for continuing to cast me in this program since.

I cannot imagine life without doing Kids For a Cause. It makes me so happy to see the smiles on our audience’s faces. My favorite part is talking to our audience after. The seniors are always full of gratitude and kindness. They often tell us, the performers, that they love these musicals or remember singing these songs with their friends when they were children. Their recollections always make me smile. When we talk to the kids, their faces light up. They always ask such thoughtful questions such as “How long did it take to learn the show?” or “What’s your favorite song to perform?”

When we ask our audience what their favorite songs are, the children immediately reply with our finale, “We Go Together” from Grease. “We Go Together” is full of energy, silly words, and crazy dance moves, and I always see the children bopping along to the music. The seniors normally reply with the older, classic show tunes like “I Got the Sun in the Morning” from Annie Get Your Gun, “Friendship’ from Anything Goes, “Heart” from Damn Yankees, “Put On a Happy Face” from Bye Bye Birdie, “I Got Rhythm” from Crazy for You, or “The Trolley Song” from Meet Me in Saint Louis. Sometimes, however, our younger cast members reply, “Little People” from Les Miserables  or “Happiness” from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

I strongly encourage everyone (Grades 2-8) to audition for Kids For a Cause. I get such an amazing feeling knowing that I am doing something good and bringing happiness to everyone! The reward of doing this program is not adding it to your resume, being on FOX, performing in Times Square, or getting community service hours for school, but bringing music, happiness, and joy to the audience members.