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Talent show turns spotlight on students

Tosa West students shared verse, dancing, singing, music at show

Feb. 12, 2013

Students at Wauwatosa West High School exhibited their hidden prowess in poetry, dance, singing, spoken word and musicianship at the Trojan Players' talent show.

The show, which took place Friday, comprised 16 acts and served as a fundraiser for the Trojan Players. The show boasted an attendance of roughly 300.

Planning for the event began early in the year with tryouts. All students who auditioned to be in the talent show made it, but were limited to one performance each.

The organizers of the event said they were most impressed by the caliber of skill some of the unassuming performers possessed.

"What I find most interesting is seeing faces that I recognize at school and seeing what they can actually do," said Susie Shively, student-organizer of the event. "What I see in school is someone who sits in class. Then to see them apply themselves to something that they are passionate in really stands out to me."

Their passions ran the gamut. Some students sang duets, others played guitar and still others danced, performed poetry and played piano.

The myriad acts allowed for this year's show's existence. Last year's talent show had to be canceled due to lack of variety between the acts. The canceled show would have consisted almost exclusively of singers and musical acts. This year's show comprised roughly half musical acts.

Although musical performances dominated this year's show, variety abounded between acts, with some featuring four-piece bands.

Lydia Eerggruen performed a cover of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love," playing acoustic guitar and singing.

"I love playing music and I love playing in the theater," she said. "I thought the talent show would be a great way to show people what I'm talented about."

Inclusivity is key

The show brought talent from all spectra of the school. Even the flier was designed by a nonmember of the Trojan Players: a football player.

While the show's direct benefit to the Trojan Player's was a fundraiser, it also served as a recruiting tool.

Adam Steffan, West's Theater Director, would engage each student after the rehearsals, asking each if they wanted to bring their talent to the theater department.

While interest in the theater department varied among potential recruits, Steffan said what was most important was that they got a stage for a day.

"It creates a positive culture in the school," he said.

Cheechia "CC" Vang, Master of Ceremonies for the show, was as passionate about recruiting as Steffan.

"We want them to say, 'you know that's really cool. I want to see what's behind the screen. I want to see who is controlling those lights. I want to do that,'" he said. "We want to get that aspect across."

Organizing the talent

While much effort was put into preparing and organizing the show, according to Shively and Steffan it paled in comparison to the effort it takes to run a play.

There was no need to build a stage, design costumes, memorize scripts or get into character. There was, however, a good deal of work done behind the stage and in front of the microphone to keep the event running smoothly. Sound board operators had to be on their toes to adjust volume levels between acts, light operators had to dim or enhance the lights between acts and the show could not have gone on without a talented MC.

CC, who has emceed West's Green and White awards and other shows, said that the crowd's relationship with the performer could be biased based on his or her popularity.

"My job is to eliminate all that and say 'this is my show and this is where the student body can perform,'" he said. "I'm going to make sure that no matter what you're going to be excited and happy."

By the numbers

16

Acts

300

Audience members

5

Dollars for admission

1

Stage displaying otherwise hidden talent

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