Second Act Cabaret gives Great Lakes Bay region students a second chance to perform

Emma Massey, a senior at Midland High School, was involved in her school’s musical “Fiddler on the Roof” this past spring before it was canceled.


For the 17-year-old senior, who plans to pursue theater after graduating from high school and study musical theater with the goal of becoming an actor, it was a tough blow.
Midland High School senior Emma Massey is part of the Oct. 15 Second Act Cabaret show.

“It was really disappointing for me,” says Massey. “I have been doing theater for so long and it's kind of what I've built my life around and the thing that I love to do the most.”


Like many students, amid escalating concerns about the virus, students were sent home in March to continue school online temporarily to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Students involved in school productions ceased rehearsals, stage building, and costume-making at the peak of the season, unaware that they would not be returning that semester.


On. Oct. 15, Second Act Cabaret is giving local students whose productions were disrupted “a second chance.” Presented by the Midland Center for the Arts (MCFTA), the show will feature 10 high school students from across the Great Lakes Bay region. They will perform one number from their canceled production, and also one or two other musical numbers related to the personality or character type from that production.


Massey will be performing “Matchmaker” from “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Remember Me” from “Little Fish” at Second Act Cabaret.


“I think that it’s really exciting and nice to acknowledge the shows that we had been cast in and didn't get to perform in,” says Massey. “Obviously things aren't going to be the same, but I think cabaret is a nice transition to get people performing again, even if it won’t be in a full-scale show.”


Josh Holliday, communications and public relations manager for MCFTA, says “the name (Second Act Cabaret) comes from the idea that the theater events were halted partway through and we are giving them a ‘second act’ to help finish it.”


Dr. Matt Travis is the director of choral and orchestral programs for MCFTA and is responsible for the production of Second Act Cabaret.


“My heart immediately went out to all of the students who had their show canceled or postponed,” says Travis. “Music and performing is a vital part of the high school experience for so many and we at the Center were working hard to find a way to provide a safe and meaningful outlet for these young people to perform.”

Travis says they worked directly with many of the local high school theater and choral directors on the initiative.   

“Certainly we aren’t able to include everybody, there are so many great options,” says Travis. “We focused on shows that didn't get a chance to be performed and students that sang solo numbers … so that kind of whittled down the list pretty quickly.”


Travis says the event is a great way to unite people from different communities while also showcasing local talent and giving students their first chance to perform in nearly eight months.


“It gives families the chance to hear them perform and also gives them the experience of performing again,” says Travis. “Many of them are auditioning for musical theater programs in college, so it's a chance for them to go through some of their audition repertoire with a live audience.”


Holliday says that shows are integral to a student’s success going into theater.


“We obviously closed our doors back in March for in-person events at the Center, but it didn't only impact professional artists,” says Holliday. “It also affected emerging artists and high school students that are pursuing theater as a profession or programs after high school.”


One of those students is 17-year-old Brock Ritter who is a senior at John Glenn High School in Bay City. Ritter plans to study musical theater in college and minor in dance.

John Glenn High School senior Brock Ritter will be performing at Second Act Cabaret.


“My long-term goal is to have a legacy of being a Broadway performer and then, once I'm older, be a choreographer,” says Ritter.


Ritter was due to perform in his school’s musical “Grease” before the production was ultimately canceled.


“When we first got shut down, we thought there was just a possibility of extending the show date and doing it at a different time,” says Ritter. “The week the show was supposed to open is when we found out it probably won't happen at all.”


Ritter will be performing at Second Act Cabaret, singing “Mooning” from “Grease” and “Dreamer in Disguise” from “Carrie.”


“I feel really grateful that I was allotted this opportunity,” says Ritter. “I really miss performing on a stage, and it can also help me get material for my personal website, which will be helpful getting into college. Musical theater is 100% totally competitive. You give the schools what they want, but what they are going to end up doing is going to the actor’s website and looking for more material to get a better sense of them.”


Second Act Cabaret is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15 at MCFTA. The performance will be at its outdoor venue located in front of the Center, but will be moved indoors in the case of inclement weather.


“The Center is much more than just what lives in our building,” says Holliday. “We’re just really excited to feature these students and get their families and the community out to support them.”


Those who would like to attend the event are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance as capacity is limited. Tickets are $5 and are on sale now at

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