They’ve covered Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. And Wednesday, the Rhythm of the Knight Uniondale Show Choir readied itself for the “Copacabana,” rehearsing some of Barry Manilow’s biggest hits at their high school on the eve of his concert at NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, for which the group will serve as closing act.
Thirty-five members of the nationally ranked show choir sang Manilow classics including “Copacabana,” “It’s A Miracle,” “Let Freedom Ring” and “I Write the Songs” — all of which they will perform Thursday alongside the music legend. The group will ditch its signature sparkly sequin outfits for red robes for the routines that were choreographed by a member of Manilow’s team. Included in their performance is the “Carlton” — a dance popularized by a 1990s television show a bit closer to their time: “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
Thursday night will mark the second time the students, ages 14 to 18, will share a stage with the 74-year-old musician. In May, show choir director Lynette Carr-Hicks was contacted by Manilow’s camp about partnering for a show that same month at the Coliseum, after his people watched videos of the group on YouTube. Manilow is gifting Uniondale High School a new Yamaha piano and 117 tickets to the Coliseum show for the families of the performers and faculty.
“Barry isn’t their time, but when they heard ‘Copacabana’ they were so excited,” said Carr-Hicks, a Uniondale school district teacher and former Broadway performer. “They said, ‘Oh that’s him.’ I always try to introduce them to good music.”
Uniondale High School senior Sebastian Irizarry said despite his age, he was already familiar with Manilow’s music, thanks to his grandmother, when he learned the choir had landed the first gig.
“Sometimes she would play it around the house while we were cleaning on Saturdays,” said Irizarry, 16, a fourth-year show choir member. “So I grew up listening to him.”
His favorite Manilow song is one Carr-Hicks said all of the students recognized.
“I love ‘Copacabana’ so much,” Irizarry said. “It’s such an upbeat song, you’ll never forget the lyrics. It’s so catchy.”