CASSIDY’S COLUMN: What it was like singing live at Benaroya Hall!


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EDITOR’S NOTE: Cass Huff is a special needs student at Mt. Rainier High School. In 2016, she was named “Citizen of the Year” by the City of Burien.

By Cass Huff

Hey B-Town Readers!

I’m so sorry it’s been such a long time since I’ve written! There’s been so much going on lately, it’s crazy. I will have other blogs coming out very soon! But this one has been highly requested. The whole night was a whirlwind and went by so fast. But I will try to put in as many details as I can. It will probably be a longer blog than usual! I know it’s a couple of months late but here ya go:

November 10, 2017 will go down as one of the best days of my life. It started out as any other day, we had no school, so I slept in. It was very hard for me to sleep the night before. I woke up instantly knowing that it was one of the biggest days of my life. I got up, showered, packed and my family and I left the house at about 1:30 in the afternoon.

Now, if you know my family, we are a family of five. So it’s very hard to get two adults and three teenagers out the door on time. So I was prepared to be late walking out the door. But, (props to my Mom) we were all out of the house on time! We got the five of us, my wheelchair, my uke, makeup, dresses, a suit, shoes, purses, etc. in the car and we were on our way.

We got downtown to Benaroya Hall around 2:30 p.m. We walked into the stage entrance and immediately, we could feel the excitement. We went upstairs to the stage and Mom rolled me out in my wheelchair while the rest of my family stepped side stage.

I looked around and was amazed by the beautiful stage. The lights were cool tones, purples and blues. And there were small fairy lights giving the stage a kind of ‘magical vibe’. There were about 50 empty seats for the orchestra beside me, and in front of me sat a shiny, black piano. I looked beyond and saw the seats for the audience, they looked like they went on forever.

I wasn’t feeling nervous, more excited. I put my brakes on, took a deep breath and stood up. I unzipped my ukulele case and took it out. People were running on and off of the stage. There were some who were setting up microphones, some were in front of the stage talking in walkie talkies, some were fixing sound and decorations. There were even more people backstage running around – there were people everywhere!

Mateo came over to greet me and asked me if I was ready to rehearse, I shakily nodded. He walked me out to downstage center. He talked to some of the techs about getting a stand for my uke and someone asked me to face the front so they could put the mic at my level. They got me a mic, and then we tried out a couple of stands for my uke.

Mateo walked over to the piano, made eye contact with me, and started to play the intro to my song.

I sang it and Mateo gave me a few pointers. Then I grabbed my uke and my wheelchair, and my family and I went back to my dressing room. (I absolutely loved the fact that the door said my name on it. I begged my mom to take a photo of my sisters and I in front of it.)

The next couple of hours went by fast and they were pretty boring. Mainly my family and I sat in my dressing room, talked, ate, laughed. And then I was called on stage for dress rehearsal with the entire orchestra. It took a little longer for them to get to my song because they were doing all of the songs. So I was waiting side stage for awhile, but I didn’t mind. I loved listening to them rehearse everything.

When I got back to my dressing room, my entire family plus all of my closest friends were there. I was so happy to see all of them. Then I changed into my dress and heels and talked with everyone for a little bit. And of course we took a ton of photos.

We all then went to our seats and the show started. It was incredible. I’ve never seen a concert like that before. It was heartfelt, funny, and very entertaining.

Our family liaison came and got me at intermission and brought me backstage. She left me alone in my dressing room and I couldn’t hold all of my excitement in by myself so I decided to call one of my best friends who couldn’t make it to the show. I rambled on about random things and soon, our family liaison came back with tea for my voice. She left again and told me that she would come back when it was time for me to come out.

I spent the next 20 minutes drinking my tea, warming up, tuning my uke, and listening to the people on stage.

It felt like no time at all and it was time for me to go out and perform. I was wheeled out to side stage right, and watched while Mateo introduced each of the four kids who had previously done this concert in the past years. (They were my backup singers.) You could feel the excitement in the whole theatre, including backstage.

I got out of my chair and stood, balancing in my heels for a second. I walked to the edge of side stage while the video of me and Mateo was playing on the big screen. Mateo walked over to me and said:

“I noticed that you’re in heels and there are wires and chords all over the stage. I really don’t want you to trip. Can you hold onto my arm and we can walk out together please?”

We both chuckled and I nodded. I took his arm and we walked out onto the unlit stage. I carried my uke tightly in my hands and stepped in front of the microphone on center stage. Mateo put his hand on my shoulder and walked to his piano, I rested my uke on its stand and looked behind me at my backup singers. They all gave me big smiles and thumbs up gestures.

The video finished and the stage lights came up. After the applause died down, I looked at Mateo and he nodded. I listened to the intro, looked forward, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.

I sang and hit all my marks! More importantly, I looked out into the crowd and saw people smiling. I saw that I was actually making an impact on people’s lives. I was doing what I love, telling my story, and having fun.

When it was over, I got a standing ovation and I’ve never felt happier. I didn’t feel happy or proud because people were clapping for me. I felt happy because I had accomplished something that I had worked hard on for months, I had shared my story with hundreds of people and I was doing what I love most in this world. It was one of those moments that I realized that that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life (as cheesy as it sounds).

I want to thank everyone who supported me throughout this journey, everyone who came to the show and supported Seattle Children’s, and everyone who continues to support me no matter what I do with my career. I also want to thank Mateo Messina and his wonderful team who helped me accomplish so much. Thank you to everyone in my life, without all of you, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

I promise that I will write some blogs soon. I’m so glad that I got to share this incredible experience with all of you (even if it is a few months late!)

Thanks for your guys’ patience!

Over and Out!

– Cass

EDITOR’S NOTE: One of Cass’ most recent appearances is in this video she did for the upcoming Highline Public Schools Levy special election on Feb. 13;

February 13 Levy Measure

Our proposed levy measure replaces an expiring levy. There is a gap between what the state funds and the education we provide to students. Levy funding makes up the difference. Mount Rainier student Cassidy Huff explains why we have the levy measure on the February 13 ballot and what it will fund. #HPSLevy

Posted by Highline Public Schools on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

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