Review: Moonlighting


Social studies teacher Jennifer Barrer-Gall dances ballet during “World of Dance.” Barrer-Gall used to be a professional ballerina. CONTRIBUTED BY SANDER SOROK

Jason Altshuler, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Have you ever seen your teachers sing, dance or play the guitar?

On Friday, Jan. 19, students and families did, as hundreds crowded into the Roberts-Dubbs Auditorium to watch the first Moonlighting show since 2012.

Moonlighting is a variety show in which faculty members, not students, perform. According to Associate Dean Brian Poon, Moonlighting used to be a fundraiser run by the Performing Arts department, but the show stopped running. Last year, a group (Poon, World Language teacher Astrid Allen, Performing Arts teacher Christien Polos, Performing Arts Curriculum Coordinator Kenny Kozol and Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Gary Shiffman) formed to bring it back.

“Gary Tyler Moore” plays a set of two songs. The band’s name was a play on the television show “Mary Tyler Moore.” CONTRIBUTED BY SANDER SOROK

This time, the show raised money to support students going on out-of-state school trips. Before the show, Poon explained that Moonlighting is great in how it “humanizes” everyone involved. “Part of its grace is that it’s going to be goofy,” Poon said. He was right, in the best way, Moonlighting managed to blend the best of talent and humor in order to bring the Brookline community together.

The show was emceed by Headmaster Anthony Meyer and School Within a School social studies teacher Jen Martin. Each with their own distinct humor, the repartee that resulted successfully tied together each individual act. Other faculty members also performed short comedy “bits” in between acts—Allen came on the stage twice and Poon performed Romeo’s famous speech to Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, Juliet being played by his wife, social studies teacher Stephanie McAllister. Each performer embraced the goofy.

The first real act was the “Copy Cover Band,” which consisted of career and technology education teacher Paul Lauro-Priestly, Betsy Davis, Shiffman, science teacher Tyler Wooley-Brown and paraprofessional Riccardo Randellini. The band had energy, first playing Martina McBride’s “Independence Day.” When the piano began for their second song, “Halo” by Beyonce, the crowd burst into apprehensive gasps. Audience members quickly began swaying with their iPhones imitating lighters, until most of the auditorium was illuminated.

World language teacher Pedro Mendez and English Language Learners teacher Katya Babitskaya perform for the “World of Dance” act. Their energy made their dance lively and exciting to watch. CONTRIBUTED BY SANDER SOROK

A particularly enjoyable moment was when Soundcheck (English teachers Julia Rocco and Rebecca Hayden, Dean of Faculty Renee Ramos, world language teacher Laura Gurry, nurse Megan Day, librarian Ann Collins and SWS English teacher John Andrews) walked on stage, matching, in white tops and dark bottoms: acapella! Living as we are in the era of Pitch Perfect, acapella is a surefire crowd pleaser and Soundcheck proved it— their rendition of “Lollipop,” complete with ‘50s style movements and popping noises from Andrews, elicited both laughter and applause.

Another highlight was Swan Lake. Choreographed by Christien Polos, a group of many teachers swarmed the stage (Polos; World Language teachers Kristina Tobey, Andrew Kimball, Dominique Gonyer and Laura Gurry; Math teachers Christine Shen, Julie Padgett, Taylor Dieffenbach and Danielle Rabina; Special Education Pathways teacher Susan Moreno; World Language Curriculum Coordinator Agnes Alberola; English Language Learners teacher Katya Babitskaya; and Science teacher Meghan Cells) in white costumes, telling the famous story in an uproariously funny and fresh way. Whether Kimball was leaping around with his prop bow or Alberola was gliding by in her “boat,” the audience lost it at practically every moment.

After a brief intermission, the second act commenced. There were a variety of fantastic musical acts: Juliette and the Romeos, which included both staff of the high school (ACE Social Studies teacher Juliette Rorie, Kozol) as well as staff from the Brookline elementary schools (Dylan Zobel, Colin Stack, Elton Xhoja, Mike Carey, Chris Thoft-Brown and Rick Stone); Great American Songbook Standards from Davis (who contributed piano to an impressively high amount of acts) and Hayden; and Gary Tyler Moore (Shiffman, Social Studies teacher Robert Grant, Wooley-Brown, and English teachers Leigh Meunier and Nick Rothstein), a teacher band which finished with a song by Lynyrd Skynyrd (not Free Bird!).

The performers prepare to bow before the audience gives them a well-deserved standing ovation. CONTRIBUTED BY SANDER SOROK

Perhaps the most breathtaking act, however, was “World of Dance.” With SWS English teacher Keira Flynn-Carson representing Irish step dance, world language teacher Pedro Mendez and Babitskaya representing Latin dance, and social studies teacher Jennifer Barrer-Gall representing ballet, the performance was captivating and stunning. Whether it was the rhythm of the step, the energy of the Latin moves or the grace of the ballet, each aspect was amazing in its own right.

Moonlighting is a unique event in that the community gets to watch staff members showcase talents that students work on as well—music, dance or comedy. The effect is that each act is enjoyable in two ways: as a performance and as a chance to see teachers and administrators in a new light. Through staff members putting themselves out there and being funny, while also displaying their talents, the whole community in the auditorium became closer.

There was an extraordinary amount of audience engagement throughout the show, from the cheering to the swaying phone-lighters. Perhaps the most telling moment was when Meyer, at the end of the show, got on the microphone and asked the audience, “Should we do this again in a year?”

The answer: a resounding “yes.”

Additional pictures below:

Juliette and the Romeos play an upbeat rendition of Valerie, in the style of Amy Winehouse, complete with horn section. The band included staff from the Brookline elementary school system. CONTRIBUTED BY SANDER SOROK
Associate Dean Brian Poon recites a passage from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. His performance blended dramatic words with comedic body language. CONTRIBUTED BY SANDER SOROK
The Soundcheck acapella group sings “Lollipop.” The song was supplemented by SWS English teacher John Andrews’ humorous sound effects. CONTRIBUTED BY SANDER SOROK
Career and technology education teacher Paul Lauro-Priestly sings with passion and energy, with his band, the “Copy Cover Band.” The group played two songs: Independence Day and Halo. CONTRIBUTED BY SANDER SOROK
Performing arts teacher Christien Polos leads a dozen teachers in dancing Swan Lake. The act was well-choreographed and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. CONTRIBUTED BY SANDER SOROK
The emcees, Headmaster Anthony Meyer and SWS social studies teacher Jen Martin, kick off the fun-filled evening. JASON ALTSHULER/SAGAMORE STAFF