A student raises money for hurricane survivors with a benefit cabaret – L’Observateur
LAPLACE — Musical theater student Sarah Grosse, a LaPlace native, combined her passion for performing with her love for the St. John Parish community when she hosted a benefit cabaret to raise money for the recovery of Hurricane Ida.
“Beyond the Storm: A Musical Evening Celebrating Southeast Louisiana” raised $821.44 in donations on Jan. 29 at Southeast Missouri State University’s Shuck Recital Hall. Gros said the money will go to the St. John United Way Hurricane Ida fund.
“Not being physically present in my community while this was happening broke my heart because I saw all of these people that I’ve known my whole life have their homes devastated,” Grosse said. “I felt helpless that I couldn’t do anything about it and I think that’s what motivated me to organize this event. I love my home and wanted to do something to help.
Grosse’s parents and grandparents stayed with her in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, when Hurricane Ida tore through southeast Louisiana in August 2021. While her grandparents’ home was largely Spared, her parents Michael and Cindy Grosse returned home to find collapsed ceilings and water damage.
“It was a rebuilding process. Our Katrina damage was not on that scale, and I was still very young when it happened, so it was really my first time going through this type of devastation,” Grosse said. “I admire the strength my parents have shown throughout this process. They have never wavered. They have been such a great source of support for me.
While most of Grosse’s friends at Southeast Missouri State University have never been in the path of a hurricane, they were eager to help after seeing photos of the destruction of St. John the Baptist Parish.
Students submitted video auditions to join the benefit cabaret. The end product was a variety show featuring a dozen different acts. Admission was free and over $800 was raised through donations.
Grosse told the story of her home country’s resilience through her vocal rendition of Randy Newman’s Louisiana 1927. Some of the other performances were reminiscent of Louisiana culture, including a saxophone quintet’s arrangement of a jazz piece called “It’s Been a Long Time”.
“I’ve been lucky enough to make a lot of friends in the program here, theater students and music students. Many people were very kind and generous and wanted to help. It was really heartwarming,” Grosse said. “I chose the United Way Hurricane Ida fund to benefit from the donations because I knew this organization would directly help those in need in my community. I want the funds raised to go directly to people who have been displaced from their homes and need a way to get back on their feet.
The benefit cabaret also taught Grosse communication and how to stay organized, skills she will take with her as she pursues a future in the performing arts.
A graduate of Archbishop Chappelle, Grosse is a sophomore in musical theater and a minor in music. She has been singing since she was old enough to speak, and community groups such as the St. John Theater and the River Parish Community Theater have allowed her to explore her talents.
After college, Grosse dreams of moving to New York and establishing a career in acting and musical theater.
“I feel like this is where my heart is calling me,” she said.