Last year, members of Girl Scout Troop 2223 got the chance to ask the Radio City Rockettes about their experiences on stage. This year, the girls’ questions were answered when they performed at Radio City Music Hall themselves.
“The Q&A was really cool, but to be able to see backstage — it was really amazing,” said Jade Collins, one of the scouts.
Under the guidance of Christie Mancuso, the choral director at the Howell Road School, the 12 sixth-graders from North Valley Stream sang Christmas carols in front of thousands of spectators for five minutes before the matinee performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on Dec. 2.
They sang “Someday at Christmas,” which they had practiced for several months, and “African Noel,” which they perfected in just two days. “We weren’t aware that the program wanted them to sing completely a capella” — without instrumental accompaniment — Mancuso explained.
She said she found out that the Madison Square Garden Company, which owns Radio City Music Hall, wanted an a capella performance only a few days before the big day. But Mancuso had been preparing the girls to sing Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas” since Troop Leader Milagros Vicente approached her in June about directing them.
Vicente explained that she learned about the chance from a friend who works for the company. Mancuso said that she thought it was “an incredible opportunity,” to have her students perform “Someday at Christmas,” which she had wanted to teach for several years.
Vicente informed Mancuso that the MSG Company had accepted the troop’s application in September — and the girls got to work. They sold tickets for their performance, and met with Mancuso after school every week to practice.
When she found out that the company wanted the girls to sing a capella, she taught them Victor C. Johnson’s “African Christmas.” The MSG Company then allowed them to sing “Someday at Christmas,” with an instrumental track. “The girls rose to the occasion,” Mancuso said.
For Girl Scout Arianna Gomez, it was a little nerve-wracking but “an amazing experience,” and for Nia Jean-Baptiste, “It was just amazing to see everyone watch me and my Girl Scout sisters.”
Vicente watched from the wings. She was thankful to Mancuso for helping the scouts. “I just kept looking out there at them,” she said. “I was so proud.”