This year’s Cabaret performance, Reach Out to Broadway, has changed since the death of Terry Attebery, Oklahoma Christian’s Cabaret performance director of five years. He passed away on Monday, Dec. 5 after a series of strokes following his diagnosis of COVID-19. He served Oklahoma Christian as a vocal coach and professor since 2014.
Kenzie Murphy, a junior vocal music education student, is the stage manager but also one of Attebery’s students. She said his battle with COVID-19 impacted her and her peers greatly.
“There’s a whole group of us who had him for voice lessons, so when we found out he wasn’t doing well and was in the hospital, and that was really hard to hear,” Murphy said.
Kali Thompson, a junior music major in the show, said that this production means even more now that they lost Attebery.
“Mr. Attebery was more than just a teacher to us,” Thompson said. “He was like a music dad and always told us how much we meant to him. He cared about what we were going through and how we were doing.”
Despite the hardships, Thompson said that the goal of Cabaret has always been to share the joy of music, which will not change even after Attebery’s death.
“The one thing that has really stuck with me is when we were in a lesson, and he told me that you can have all the technique you want, but if you don’t sing the words from your heart, then none of it will matter,” Thompson said.
Murphy said that the show itself has had to undergo revision since his passing. In Attebery’s stead, Professor Kyle Pullen is the director, while Barbara Berard is the choreographer.
Attebery’s memory lives on with a section in the program written by the cast. Thompson said the show must go on to honor Attebery’s memory.
“I think if we didn’t do Cabaret, it would be kind of a slap to the face,” Thompson said. “He [Attebery] would want us to do it, and he’d want us to show the school.”
Breanna Massie, a sophomore student, said this show meant more to her this year, as Attebery pushed her to audition before she finally said yes. She got into this year’s show just before his passing.
“I am upset that I didn’t get to work with Attebery for Cabaret,” Massie said. “Yet, I feel like I get to work with amazing people, such as our teachers and faculty, but also the people who did work with him last year. I can feel a part of him within them.”
Attebery’s memory lives on beyond Cabaret and Oklahoma Christian. Within the Edmond community, Attebery was a choir director, teacher for Edmond Memorial High, and a deacon at the Edmond First Presbyterian church. His teaching career spanned 46 years and impacted a great number of the community.
As with his other choir performances, Attebery handled every part of Cabaret with great precision. Murphy found this out firsthand when she became the stage manager.
“It’s a really rigorous process, and everyone’s held to high standards,” Murphy said.
Auditions for the show began in Oct. 2020, and after the casting, students were required to memorize their music before rehearsals started the Sunday before the term began. Rehearsals began shortly after to give the performers time to perfect the original Broadway choreography.
This year, the show will feature songs such as “My Shot” from Hamilton and “Into the Unknown” from Disney’s Frozen II.
The show premieres on March 4, 5, and 6 at 7:30 P.M. Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased here for $8. Thursday night is free for faculty and students. The show will also be streamed online here.
In addition to streaming the vent, performances will now be held in Baugh to better socially distance. Only 300 seats are available each night, and temperature checks will be performed at the door. The performers will wear also wear masks.