Variety Show lacks fun of Coffee House


All photos by Emma Coleman

Brendan Iverson (’17) and Lizzy Pease (’17) strike an unlikely pose at the conclusion of their Variety Show act. The two performers played an engaged couple in “Anything Goes” this past fall.

Emma Coleman, Editor-in-Chief

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  • Meredith Bowen (’17) warms up on her ukulele backstage. She and Sarah Durst (’17) performed a duet of Vance Joy’s “Riptide.”

  • Nathan Hamidi (’19) walks through the crowd with his accordion, smiling intently at select individuals. The act made the audience laugh and furrow their eyebrows at the same time.

  • The Best Buddies club bows at the conclusion of their dance, which opened the show.

  • Lead singer of “Politically Correct” Molly Szymanksi (’20) leads the group in an original song. The band is the only freshman all-girl band at Hereford.

  • Host Tony Cabral (’17), with co-host Lizzy Pease (’17) behind him, prepares to write thank you notes to Hereford High, mimicking the segment featured on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The act was accompanied by Emily Dotterer (’17) on the piano.

  • Emily Kohlenstein (’18) belts out “I Will Follow” in her solo debut.

  • The band “Chin Up,” with members Kier Mcintosh (’18), Matt Aldana (’18), and Carter Hammersla (’18) rocks out on stage.

  • The audience reacts to the band “Chin Up” with raised eyebrows and laughter.

  • Yo-Yo Guys Isaac Nozick (’19) and Grayson Johnson (’19) demonstrate their unique skills. The two boys, who participate in yo-yo competitions, caused viewers eyes to widen and jaws to drop.

  • Hosts Tony Cabral (’17), Brendan Iversen (’17), Lizzy Pease (’17), and Marcy Ledvinka (’17) serve as background singers to Brendan Shettle (’17), who dedicated his song to his crush.

  • Konrad Shire (’18) serenades the audience on electric guitar. The other members of his act couldn’t make the second night of the show, so he opted to play on his own.

  • Host Tony Cabral (’17) leads the performers and the audience in the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” The act united everyone in the room one last time before the curtain closed.

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Thick red curtains, bright spotlights and colored backdrops, and elegant dresses and freshly-ironed suits are all put on display for an audience of moms, dads, grandmas, and groups of students with nothing better to do on a Friday night.

Hereford’s Variety Show was exciting. Students had the amazing opportunity to show friends and family their talents, perhaps for the first time. Who knew Chris Benna (’20) could compose and perform an astounding work of art on the piano in less than a week? Who knew Grayson Johnson (’19) and Isaac Nozick (’19) were yo-yo professionals? And who knew Tony Cabral (’17) was such a comedian and Lizzy Pease (’17) could act and Esther Yu (’19) could dance and . . . wait. Didn’t we already know that?

There’s no denying that there was talent on the stage at the Variety Show, but are there still students who can’t seem to get into the spotlight? Is the audition process a restriction?

Rachel Watson (’18), whose act didn’t make it past the audition, thought so. “We tried out with a fun, fast dance that would’ve been entertaining and would’ve been fun to perform,” she said. She reported that peers who had seen the dance texted her, saying that their act deserved to be in the show. “It made me upset,” Watson said, “because it is called a ‘Variety Show,’ yet there were only two dances.”

There are ways to showcase unique talent without the restrictions of auditions.

I recently attended what private school St. Paul’s students call “Coffee House.” The event, planned and carried out by students alone, requires no curtains, spotlights, fancy dresses, or auditions. Tables and chairs were set up in the cafeteria, and a small stage and piano were rolled in front of the crowd, which consisted solely of students and a handful of teachers. Mikes were plugged in and turned on, and the show began.

One by one, students exited the audience and maneuvered to the little stage in their jeans and t-shirts. Some sang original songs, one banged out Rachmaninoff’s “Morceaux de fantaisie” on the piano, and clubs that no one knew existed performed skits that left their peers rocking with laughter. It was organized chaos, and it was fun. The ad lib show ended with a karaoke session. Everyone who couldn’t sing was dragged onstage, and more laughter ensued.

I have attended several St. Paul’s Coffee Houses, and each time I am impressed by students’ courage and willingness to share their abilities – I confess, it isn’t all talent – with their peers. The relaxed, student-run environment is simply more fun than the staged, organized Variety Show we have here at Hereford.

Maybe Hereford tries too hard. Maybe the audition process keeps us from having fun. It could be that an open mike is the best way to find talent without all the blinding lights, sparkly dresses, and jokes that require forced laughs – without all the stress.