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A week after Cami Abraham played the lead role in Wichita East’s “Mamma Mia!” last fall, her longtime vocal teacher, Amy Menas, invited Abraham to her house for a congratulatory gift.
Menas informed Abraham that the East junior was one of 11 teenagers nationwide selected for the Kritzerland cabaret series. A week of rehearsals leads up to a performance tonight, Jan. 23, at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s in Los Angeles.
“I was beyond shocked,” Abraham said of the selection, which her parents didn’t know about. “I definitely know I had no words.”
“She kept saying, ‘You’re kidding,’ ‘You’re joking,’ ‘You’re making this up,’” Menas said with a laugh.
The cabaret is the 117th produced by Bruce Kimmel, an actor-turned-music producer. Menas, Facebook friends with Kimmel, saw notice of video auditions and sent material in.
“We don’t live in Los Angeles, so I didn’t think he’d want to use her,” Menas said. “But he emailed me back after I submitted … (and said) they loved her.”
Her parents, Scot and Gina Abraham, are flying out with her to make it a family vacation.
The names of the two songs she’s singing for the cabaret weren’t released, but one of them is by Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked,” “Pippin,” “Godspell”).
“I am just super excited to be working with Bruce and all these other talented teenagers that are about my age and doing the exact same thing I am,” Abraham said. “I’m looking forward to the experience and everything I’m going to learn from this.”
Besides shows at Wichita East, Abraham’s credits include five Music Theatre Wichita shows (the first, “The King & I” at age 8), Musical Theatre for Young People, Wichita Children’s Theatre and Music Theatre Kansas City.
The high school junior has been making a list of colleges she would be interested in to study musical theater. As well as being a vocal coach, Menas helps high school students prepare for their college musical theater auditions, and her students have ended up in schools across the country.
Menas has taught vocal lessons to Wichita-area students for nearly 40 years, and currently has 50 students.
“I see potential in all my students and give them avenues to learn and perform,” Menas said, noting a special spark in Abraham, whom she’s taught for 10 years. “Ever since she was little, you could see her shine on stage.”