Ridgewood mom finds her niche in Jamboree's chorus line

Yawn … why is my alarm waking me up so early on a Saturday morning? Oh my goodness – Jamboree rehearsal! My last first-day-of-Jamboree-rehearsals! Has it really been seven years? I remember my very first year: I had a bad stomach ache wondering, What did I do? I can’t sing! Or dance! Or act!

Practicing dance moves at Jamboree rehearsal are (from left) co-producer Pat Hensley, Andrea Stier and Emot Farley.

Even though I still cannot sing, dance or act, I have more and more fun every year that I am part of Jamboree. I have found my niche, a role I do pretty well. I am a great filler! I enthusiastically let anyone who wants front and center have it. I want the back row. I want the chorus.

Many parents who join Jamboree are not Broadway stars or professional singers. They are, like me, interested in meeting other Ridgewood High School (RHS) parents to spend a month immersed in song, dance and plenty of laughs and parties!

I just want to be part of this amazing experience that is Ridgewood Jamboree.

For 68 years, parents of RHS students have spent an intense month together preparing to put on a show to raise money for scholarships for students in need. In 1946, the very first show raised $800.

All proceeds go to awarding need-based college scholarships for graduating RHS seniors. In 2013, Jamboree raised just over $100,000, and 18 graduating seniors received Jamboree scholarships. The Jamboree Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $800,000 in the past decade.

Three years ago, my son was one of the lucky recipients of a scholarship awarded by Jamboree. In fact, Jamboree is the largest scholarship provider to our students.

Work on Jamboree goes on year-round. The producers begin planning a theme and working their logistical magic as soon as the show is over. Once a theme is chosen, a script committee comes up with songs, dances, skits and ideas for the show. Talented dancers choreograph the numbers and eventually teach the routines to cast members.

Rehearsals last for about five weeks before the show premieres. This year, there will be more pop and rock tunes than Broadway ones, in keeping with our beach theme.

Our five weeks of rehearsals involve learning the music, practicing dance moves, studying our lines, and a whole lot of practice and parties. Every rehearsal includes laughter, bonding with friends old and new, food and fun.