“What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play! Life is a cabaret, old chum; come to the cabaret…” Broadway fans know that Liza Minnelli’s famous line brings visions of bubbling musical notes, fancy footwork and a glitzy, glamorous performance. On Saturday June 4, Westfield High School in Chantilly will host its own star-studded celebration of life for one very important reason, the Remembrance for Reema Cabaret.
Reema Samaha, a 2006 graduate of Westfield High School, was one of the 32 victims in the Virginia Tech University shooting of 2007. She is remembered each year with a moving tribute to her soulful passion for life, family, and theatre. On June 4, the volunteer performers, both on stage and behind the scenes, give it their all to make the Remembrance Cabaret a stunning, exciting and heartfelt tribute to Reema and all the victims of that devastating day nine years ago.
There is something for everyone at this event, as it reflects performing arts from all backgrounds. Many young people who knew Reema, and many who have never met her, return each year to perform. Every year, the Contemporary Dance Ensemble of Virginia Tech performs "Andaloosia,” a dance Reema choreographed while at Virginia Tech.
In addition to seeing song and dance performances, cabaret patrons will enjoy art, comedy, a silent auction and even a bake sale with all proceeds going to two causes: the Reema J. Samaha Memorial Scholarship Fund, and Angel Fund, which supports safety and well-being of youth and school-age children.
According to Mona Samaha, Reema’s mother, the Remembrance Cabaret is a very special event because it is created and supported entirely by Reema’s friends, and the caring community. She states, “When you enter the auditorium, you feel the positive energy and your spirit is uplifted.”
Reema’s sister, Randa, explains why the cabaret is so important. “For one night, we are reminded of the beauty of life, and that although we all may choose to celebrate it in various ways, art, dance, music, and comedy have a way of uniting people regardless of their background. Our goal is to continue to unite our community, as widespread as it may be, with the aim of instilling compassion, tolerance, and acceptance of others in our youth.”
Reema was known not only for her beautiful smile, big heart, and her love of dance, but also for her exceptional character, academic excellence, openness of mind, and her manner of caring for all people. Her family explains how they try to cope daily with her loss.
“When you are deeply hurt you feel disoriented until you change your outlook about life and you give it a more real and profound meaning. You actually find its true beauty and the pain is less sharp or more accepted,” Mona Samaha explains. “We miss Reema every day but we pull our strength through her as well. She does not deserve the pain that we feel so we honor her by appreciating the gift of life. You live and you learn, the hard way, and then you appreciate the accomplishments at every step.”
The Remembrance for Reema Cabaret will take place June 4 at Westfield High School, 4700 Stonecroft Boulevard in Chantilly. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the silent auction and bake sale; performance begins at 7 p.m. The Cabaret is free, however donations are strongly encouraged online and at the door to support two programs that give back to the local student community. The Cabaret is the only fundraising event for the Angel Fund, a foundation whose vision is a community that takes action against bullying, addiction, depression and suicide through education, programs and advocacy. The Reema Samaha Memorial Scholarship supports graduating seniors from Westfield High School or Herndon High School who will be attending a Virginia state university and who best exemplify Reema's attributes.
For more information on these programs, visit angelfundva.net.