Social Activities Council sponsors annual talent show in Mabel Brown Room
The strumming and thrashing of instruments had audience members singing along and breaking out in rhythmic clapping. Some unique and intriguing performances provoked viewers to sit up and watch more closely with smirks of curiosity spread across their faces. Other acts stimulated silence and awe, while others caused an outbreak of cackles and hysterics.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, the Social Activities Council sponsored and directed Saturday Night Jive. The purpose of this show, according to SAC member Dayna Coleman, was “a chance to showcase the talent in the school, that’s really what we center the event around.”
[singlepic id=680 w=320 h=240 float=right]
“We really want to promote the school’s talent; we have a lot of concerts, we have a lot of events with comedians and things like that, so it’s cool to be able to do an event where students at the school who feel like they have a talent are able to come out,” Coleman also said.
Student Body Vice President and judge for the show, Katelyn Williams, said, “I think it’s a great opportunity for students to come out and be able to show their talent to the student body, it gives students who don’t always get recognized to show that they have talent too.”
The process to make the show possible was explained by the event’s coordinator, Julie Lessard of SAC. Lessard said the first step is advertising auditions and then holding auditions followed by bringing a group of judges together.
“They [the judges] rate them [the auditions] on originality, stage presence, performance, and preparedness, and then a personal evaluation from one to five at the auditions,” Lessard said.
She explained that the scores are typed up into a spreadsheet where the highest scores are chosen. “There’s really no other fair way to do it,” Lessard said.The possibility of a tie between acts is also considered and discussed. Lessard explained that the points will be averaged out. Lessard said, “It comes down to sometimes a tenth of a point to who gets in.”
A total of 10 acts are chosen from auditions and a professional MC is hired. This year’s MC was Michelle Buteau from “Last Comic Standing” and “Comedy Central,” as well as multiple MTV appearances. Lessard spoke with Buteau’s agent to bring her to KSC. “I’m very excited to see her, one of my big things is she’s a female comedian,” Lessard said.
“I’ve been in the position for two years and I know I was on SAC the year before and there has not been a female comedian at least within three years and I’ve heard at least four now,” Lessard said, and added, “That was really one of my big things when we booked her, I was really excited that we picked a female comedian.” This year, Lessard had a stage manager working the show to help with any possible chaos in the green rooms and on stage. Hiring a caterer is one of the last efforts SAC made to ensure the show’s success. “It’s kind of one of our formal events I would say,” Lessard said.
“There’s a lot that goes into this; making sure of e-mails, communicating with all of the acts, making sure they know how long their performance needs to be, what time they’re going on. We created a program, there’s a panel of five judges, that’s part of the planning, too-asking people on campus, faculty, and staff members,” Lessard said as she listed the rest of the responsibilities SAC members have. Upon speaking about try-outs, Lessard said, “Most of it was music. That was mostly what auditioned, I was really hoping I’d see some different things, you know, yo-yo-ers or unicyclists or something crazy like that, but 90% of who auditioned was musical acts.”
Most of the musical performers write their own music and played it during the show. “I know a few of them will do one cover because it’s a crowd pleaser to do a cover ‘cause they [the audience] can sing along, but most of our singers do write their own music,” Lessard said prior to the event. Lessard spoke of acts from last year that did not try out this year as well as some returners and first time performers.
When asked what she wanted to run differently for this year’s show, Lessard said, “I don’t know if I want it to go differently, I think just a smooth set change is always key ‘cause that’s what the hardest part is you know; one band’s on and then switching to another band, and the way we schedule it helps with that to make sure it runs smoothly.”
“SAC is really trying to give our talented students a chance to kind of be in the spotlight,” Lessard said.
“We take as many people as we possibly can into the show and judge our auditions fairly. It’s judged by students, and it even comes down to, you know, if your friend is auditioning-we ask that you don’t [judge],” Lessard further said.
Coleman expressed that every year, SAC tries to improve the variety of acts in the show.
“We kind of had to advertise it as a variety show in order to get those people out there because there’s a lot of different people who can do a lot of different things. I mean, anything is a talent, so the opportunities are endless. So it’s just a matter of getting people to realize that anything is acceptable. We’re trying to increase the amount of variety that’s going on in the show,” she said.
“I think the hardest part is getting through the auditions. Once you’re through the auditions, then you have the opportunity to showcase your talent,” Coleman said.
Williams said, “Everyone is welcome no matter what your talent is, no matter how out there you think it is, and the audience in the event is energetic and is open to what their performance is going to be.”
“There’s a lot of interaction with the audience. The audience is really excited because they know the people who are performing, so they’re really excited to find out who wins the prizes. There’s 10 acts and three prizes so you have a pretty good chance,” Coleman said, prior to the event.
As the lights dimmed, the audience cheered and applauded Buteau. The show would only get louder.
Acts varied from an improv group to a group who sang its own parody. A poet poured out his heart and made humor out of his writing as well. Bands, guitar players, a pianist, and even a marimba player took the stage. Each act wrote out its own introductions which were read by Buteau, making audience members and fans laugh and cheer before the talent was even occupying the stage.
The audience also played a role during the show, with many shout-outs and chants that Buteau directed. Not only students, but also parents of performers had their chance to shine when Buteau called them out to ask them silly questions as well as serious ones.
A few audience members were brought on stage during the set changes and a breast cancer survivor from the audience was congratulated and cheered for.
Throughout her MC performance, Buteau used slang words and educated parents in the audience on what the terms meant, causing more of a ruckus. Heads were thrown back in laughter and literal howls erupted from the crowd.
When a performer’s guitar strap fell, it did not cause a halt in his performance. Instead, he broke out in just song and the audience sang and clapped along as a friend of his in the crowd shouted, “The show must go on!”
Singers of the parody group Dr. Young and the Pens said that they were happy with the show and would return again to perform at KSC.
When asked what advice they would give to students who might be nervous to perform on stage or audition for shows like this one, they answered, “People aren’t gonna remember the bad parts, they’re only going to remember the good parts!” The announced winners were the improv group 3 Ways ‘Til Sunday with the first place award of $300, musical group Accidental Harmony in second place with $200, and the band Charlotte Lock in third place with $100. Coleman expressed her thoughts after the event. “I think everything was really well received, as expected we did have a pretty full house, so I mean I kind of expected that once I saw the line out the door. I was like alright, this is gonna be good! So yeah I think everything was really well received. The crowd was staying, going throughout the whole thing,” she said.
In regards to next year’s show, Colman said, “I’m graduating but I’m sure that this is something that they’ll try to do in the future. We talk about all our events and we will go over anything that we think went well, anything we think needs to be changed but it seems like this one went pretty smoothly.”
Coleman explained that since SAC has put on this event for the past few years, SAC members are getting the hang of organizing the event and seeing it through. “We know what we’re doing, we know exactly how long it’s going to take with switches,” she said.
“It’s a lot of logistical things and I think we’ve finally worked it all out,” Coleman said. To those who did not win a prize, Coleman had a few words to offer. “Come back next year! You made it through the hardest cut to get into the show and the school knows your name. Congratulations, we love you,” Coleman said, concluding the night.
Brittany Ballantyne can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org