Electrifying Performances Make Unforgettable Talent Show

Electrifying Performances Make Unforgettable Talent Show

After a big week of hype and promotion, the Charity Talent Show returned to the Humphreys Theatre on Saturday 21 January, and fourteen acts (plus two Upper Sixth dance troupes – more on them later) took to the stage and created plenty of immortal memories.

The traditional Matinee Show kicked off at 3pm with a terrific cast of Second Year, Third Year, and Lower Sixth performances. Returning judges Josie Branson (OC 2017), Mr Stamper and I had an unforgettably difficult decision to make regarding our top three acts. The audience, for the first time in Talent Show history (or at least since 2017), had an unforgettably difficult decision of their own, as they had the opportunity to cast their votes for the Audience Prize winner. Sophia (Second Year) narrowly won the Audience Prize and also took second place in the judges’ verdicts, with her charming and spirited rendition of Amy Winehouse’s Valerie; Will (Third Year) took third place with his rousing stage presence and performance of Michael Kiwanuka’s Love and Hate; and Zandi (Lower Sixth) took first place with her moving rendition of the Encanto tune Waiting on a Miracle. Honourable mentions must go to Crossed Wires (Second and Third Year), to Fraser (Lower Sixth), and to Connie (Third Year), for their electrifying performances.

In the Evening Show, Josie and I were joined on the judging panel by Director in Residence Miss Riley. This show featured spirited instrumental ensembles from Nova (Fifth Year) and Viney-Da-Pooh (Lower Sixth), with the latter band winning the evening’s Audience Vote; a hilarious stand-up routine from Stuart (Lower Sixth), featuring his highly informative Quiz About Stuarts; some powerful dance numbers from Estella, Isabella and Victoria (Lower Sixth), and from Fiona and Belle (Upper Sixth); a stunning cello-and-piano duet from Marcus and Jerry (Lower Sixth); and some mesmerising vocals from Hannah and Anna (both Upper Sixth). Each act brought lots of indomitable spirit to the stage and immersed the audience into their performance, which left the judges with another challenging call to make.

After much deliberation, we awarded third place to Stuart, second place to Marcus and Jerry, and first place to Anna – all of whom were greeted with suitably loud applause as they collected their statuette prizes!

The marquee act of the Evening Show, however, was the Upper Sixth Dance Battle. The boys’ performance opened with a bizarre and very darkly amusing whodunnit-themed video, after which their dance told the story of the whodunnit villain (played by Harry) hiding out amongst some enigmatic underground dancers… and eventually getting caught and arrested to the tune of Basement Jaxx’s Red Alert. During this performance, the judges were unexpectedly gifted with a rose and some Hawaiian necklaces, which we thoroughly appreciated! (Worth noting, though, that the boys’ very colourful outfits in the final part of their dance were rarely consistent with the House colours of the dancers!)

The girls’ video told the story of a great unanswered question and the tale of a long-running dispute about land ownership. Their dance started in a very fast-moving rave, eventually included some umbrellas (in a lively interpretation of a certain weather-themed Rihanna and Jay-Z song), and concluded with a huge beach party to the tune of the ABBA classic Lay All Your Love On Me.

Having unofficially advised both teams during some of their rehearsals, I could tell that this Dance Battle would be closely-fought, and it certainly was; this was easily the most unpredictable dance-off since 2019, such was the enthusiasm and inventiveness of both teams. After Mr Patterson and the judges gleefully dragged the final countdown out as long as we could, we got the first split vote since 2019, with the boys taking two votes and the girls taking one. Congratulations to the boys! The judges secretly admitted amongst ourselves, after the audience had headed home, that the Hawaiian necklaces were what won it. That’s the ultimate hallmark of a brilliant Dance Battle – it really could have been decided by a coin toss.

I would like to thank Mr Patterson and the Charity Committee (especially Nithusha) for masterminding the auditions, managing the acts, and hosting the refreshments stall; Mr Riley and his tech team for creating such an engaging atmosphere in the theatre; Anna and Annabella, for hosting the Evening Show with such panache (my airport-themed joke aside); Mrs Fahey, for leading the front-of-house teams at the shows; Mr Moore and Mrs Richards, for supporting the closest Dance Battle for several years; my fellow judges, for stepping up to share the best stage-side job in the world; and all the audience members, for coming along and supporting our acts and charities. Performing on stage, in whatever capacity, is such an amazing skill and such great fun, and the Talent Show is a priceless hub for encouraging our school community to do this. Knowing that we were supporting Lerang’wa Lunches and The Children’s Trust made the show even more of an honour.

Connie’s Matinee Show dance was soundtracked to Hoppípolla, by Sigur Rós; next time I hear this unspeakably beautiful piece of music (and I’ve already heard it twice since Saturday), I will think back to the 2023 Charity Talent Show and remember that this tune sounds like how it felt to be there.

Mr R. Evans

Teacher of Chemistry, Head of Ridgefield, Talent Show Judge

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