On February 23 in Dutcher Hall, MU’s All Campus Musical Organization presented a benefit concert to commemorate the tragic shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14. It was an evening of uplifting, inspirational songs about love, hope, and the innocence of childhood. As a student run organization, the concert was directed by ACMO executive board members Johnny Guiget and Stormy Hayes.
“As an Early Childhood and Special Education dual major, I was deeply hurt by what happened that day, as well as the other members who are performing tonight,” Guiget said at the start of the concert, while the cast softly sang “Amazing Grace.” Each member wore a green and white shirt with painted handprints on them in remembrance of the children and teachers who were killed during the shooting.
Twin sisters Sarah and Amy Ward opened the concert with Sara Bareilles’s “Breathe Again,” a touching rendition of a song about learning to move on after tragedy. Later on they also sang “For Good” from “Wicked” and Amy sang “Nothing Stops Another Day” on her own.
Sisters Kaitlyn and Emily Weaver performed Fleetwood Mac’s sentimental “Landslide” with Emily on guitar.
In one of the more upbeat pieces in the concert, Joey Bertoni performed the song “Out There” from Disney’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Scarlett McMullen gave a beautiful performance of Bette Midler’s “The Rose,” a song that definitely fit the theme of pain and sorrow as well as hope and love.
Marisa Leo and Jenn Kelman performed a duet of “Some Things Are Meant to Be” from “Little Women.” Leo’s light, sweet vocals and Kelman’s more mature voice worked very well together for this innocent and hopeful song. Later, Kelman teamed up with Kelly Milligan for an energetic acoustic performance of Katy Perry’s “Firework” with Emily Weaver on guitar. Following a string of less recognizable and somber songs, this more modern pop song was a refreshing change of pace for the concert.
Next, Brittany VanCisco sang Mandy Moore’s version of “Only Hope” from the movie “A Walk to Remember.” Her clear soprano voice was a perfect fit for the song’s powerful lyrics and uplifting emotion.
ACMO’s president Seth Sponhouse gave a heartfelt performance of Jason Robert Jones’ “Someone to Fall Back On,” which was perhaps a tribute to the people still in the healing process. The lyrics “I am no prince / I am no saint… But I can stand behind / And be someone to fall back on” really drove home the fact that the affected people from that town in Connecticut are everyday people who are trying to recover from a terrible tragedy.
Christine Furey sang “A Way Back To Then,” a song about remembering the simple hopes and innocence of childhood from the musical “[Title of Show].” She even managed to get a chuckle out of the audience whenever she sang about how she “became a college theater dork.”
Last but not least, Marisa Leo closed the show with a sweet and beautiful rendition of “Finding Wonderland” from the musical “Wonderland.”
The concert was a wonderful mix of songs from Broadway musicals and acoustic pop songs. All the songs were very appropriate and relevant to the tragic event and were all uplifting whether they were about love, loss, hope, or childhood purity. Each member sang their respective songs amazingly and performed them with such heart, emotion and soul. Also, credit needs to be given to the accompanist Chris Cooper, who stepped in at the last minute after the original pianist for the concert fell ill and did a commendable job accompanying the talented singers during the concert.
All the donations that were collected from the audience members during the concert went towards a fund for elementary and middle schools called the “Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness Award.” The fund is in memory of Charlotte Bacon, a young girl who was a victim at Sandy Hook Elementary School.