Friday Night Live: Review of PN’s 2017 Talent Show

PN’s 2017 hosts, Abby Seeber (12) and Eli Barker (12) were both voted class clown. After I saw the talent show, I understood why.

lily antor, entertainment editor

The sound of laughter echoed throughout the Portage Northern campus as I approached the pre-talent show tailgate. Glancing about, I caught sight of kids passing volleyballs, people talking amongst themselves on picnic blankets, and then I noticed the most glorious sight of all: a food truck.  As six o’clock turned to seven, the tailgate still continued to be vivacious, thanks to prize drawings and various activities set up by the student senate. Yet as the doors opened at seven-thirty, I approached the lengthy line in an attempt to cop a good seat to view the acts of the 2017 PN Talent Show.

After intense anticipation, the lights finally began to dim at the eight o’clock hour, ringing in the initiation of the talent show. The hosts, Abigail Seeber (12) and Eli Barker (12), walked on stage, with Seeber rocking a floral-patterned dress and Barker donning a full-out suit. They opened by cracking the first of many hilarious jokes, and introduced the first act of the night: Kierre Anderson (11).

As Anderson walked out on stage, I recalled seeing him perform at last year’s talent show but could not distinguish what he did. As the lights darkened and the music began, the insane robotic movement of his body reminded me of his incredible dancing talent. Boy, did he dance. This kid is so smooth that he practically slid across the stage floor.

Next act to perform was the first of many singing performances. As the music of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid started, Trinity Barnick (9) impressed with her sweet voice that matched the kind of tone necessary to successfully pull of that classic Disney Princess song. Barnick set a solid bar for the rest of the singers to come throughout the show.

As Barnick left the stage, host Abby Seeber came back on, but this time wearing a distinguishable Elsa dress. She looked like she came straight out of the hit Disney film Frozen. The real comedy came, though, as co-host Barker walked on stage also wearing an Elsa dress. After this bit I was tempted to give the Seeber/Barker duo a ten out of ten already. But the best of their comedy was yet to come.

The following performance to grace the stage was given by German foreign-exchange student Luke Fisher (12). He sang a sultry version of “Imagine” by John Lennon that was simply beautiful in every regard. The only thing I wanted was a jazz band to compliment his smooth voice in this beautiful number.

Next to grace the stage was Jillian Bowe (11), who read one of her many slam poems. The one she read was called “SWM Body” (Straight White Male Body) and was a fake advertising pitch to buy the body that allows you to be “superior to all others.” She addressed social issues regarding gay rights, feminism, racism, and made a few clever digs at President Trump. Her lines were witty, moving, and thought-provoking: those that parallel that of professional slam poets. Her second poem matched the quality of her first, and she delivered the poem about an abusive relationship with profound conviction.

Isabella Metzner (12). All that matters. The song she danced to was simply beautiful, almost as beautiful as her. Her body seemed to move as smoothly as the flame of a lighter dances in the wind. This dance seems to depict some sort of abuse, but I can’t really tell. The only thing I know is that the movements she created with her body were just stunning to watch. Later, she came back on to do a second dance number, which was even better than the first one. Not to mention she choreographed it HERSELF. Not only was the dance itself beautiful, but her face in both dances was incredibly pretty, expressive, and kind. After her second performance, I was quite moved. I definitely fell in love with her.

Following Metzner was Ellie Mancina (9), who dazzled in a black off-sleeve dress. At first I thought that singing an Adele number was quite risky for a freshman (I mean, it IS Adele) but Mancina had me sold by the chorus. She did a beautiful job, especially for a freshman. Her emotion, voice, and charisma made for a great performance.

Next, the hosts showed us a video from their ‘sponsor,’ WiiHarmony. The video skit they showed us was hilarious, and centered around a fake dating website for gamers. The best part, though? The very end, when Omar Thaj (11) wore a wig and found himself on WiiHarmony, saying, “that Omar is a cutie!” Ten out of ten on this bit. Seeber and Barker are pure genius.

Julian Carreno (9) brought his electric guitar on stage for the next act. This rock n’ roll music shook up the audience and was just right after the other acts. At first Julian seemed a wee bit tense, but by the end he had everybody, including myself, rocking out.

Next two audience members were randomly selected to read a script provided by Abby Seeber. Eli Barker ran through the audience and selected Carter Landis (11) and Will Kellam (12) to participate. They had no clue what they were doing, and were escorted off the stage by the hosts. After the show, I asked Will what was written on the papers and why they were unable to do the job, “on one piece of paper there were scripted lines, and nothing was written on my sheet.” Although this audience involvement bit backfired, it was still hilarious to watch the two guys that Seeber dubbed, “the jock and the itch” to struggle through it.

Mackenzie Derhammer (12) was the next student to show off his talent in the PNHS auditorium. When he walked onto the stage wearing a flannel tied around some tight black shorts, I knew it would be good. He did a dance to Miley Cyrus’ “It’s the Climb” using flags and the wooden rifle that are used in color guard. Halfway through the act I was shocked he had not dropped the flag after all the fancy tricks he had done with it. This performance was both very enjoyable and very unexpected.

During a transition on stage, techie Nic Pryor (12) threw up some peace signs. It was great.

After the staged was graced by Nic, Abby and Eli brought on the Zoppi-Moon twins for an interview. I could not STAND how cute they were. That is probably the cutest sketch I’ve ever seen. They even said things at the same time. It was so stinkin’ cute I could hardly tolerate it.

Next, the band OKAY, consisting of three PNHS students, delivered a performance that was much better than OKAY. Pun intended. Looking at these three guys individually, I would have never guessed that they could come together and rock it like they do. I was astounded and can tell you the band is more than OKAY! Puns over now.

The improv team. SO FUNNY. Abby Seeber (who is a member of the team with Barker, which did not surprise me at all) delivered a monologue while impersonating Madz VanWinkle (12). The impression was so accurate. Madz was roasted, to say the least. But it was all in fun and improv. All the members of the small team managed to get laughs, as they are all funny and talented. I would highly recommend attending their next show.

The following vocal performance by Aly Weaver (12) was simply smoothing to my soul. She played piano while singing in her beautiful, jazzy voice. If you heard Aly talk in person, you would never guess she was capable of such intricate vocal control. She casually riffs in the chorus as if it’s nothing. But gosh, was it SOMETHING. I want her to go into jazz performance or something.

Jenna Thoman (10) and Katie Fleming (10) were the duo that followed. Katie played on the piano, accompanying Jenna, who sang “You Look Happier.” Both sophomore girls did a beautiful job, so much so that I became somewhat emotional during this touching ballad.

The piano playing continued into the next act as Jonathan Leasure (11) showed the audience his ability to pluck the coolest sounds out of the keys. I think he was switching between two different songs, with one being upbeat and the other slow in tempo. If so, the transitions he was able to make on the piano going in between both songs were impressive. I sincerely hope this junior plays again next year and shows PN even more of what he is capable of doing. 

After the music of the piano ended, Abby Seeber came out onstage and thanked the audience for being “welcoming to the performers and making a great atmosphere.” Truly a class act. After that, the hosts got back into the humor as Eli Barker gave the audience his on-point Christopher Walken impression.

Mijiikwis. Oh, Mijiikwis Wabanimkee (9). This young freshman walked onto the stage carrying a bunch of hoola hoops. Right then and there I knew this would be good. As the beat of the music in the background dropped, he starting twisting the multitude of hoola hoops all around his body. He put the hoola hoops through his legs without me noticing. I swear one second they were in his hand, the next they were wrapped in between his legs. Impressive. I’m not exactly sure what to call this type of performance…perhaps ‘dancing to music while twisting plastic rings around one’s body in fun ways.’ Regardless, when he lifted the hoola hoop ring above his head at the end of the song, it was pure bliss.

Following that act was was Jonathan Connon (10) singing “Into You.” At first, I’m not going to lie, I was not quite into it. (PUN). But when he got to the first chorus and started dancing, I was sold. He sang this entire song while dancing around the stage like a Portage pop star. It was iconic. He had an enjoyable performance and great energy. He straight-up OWNED that stage.

Following that, Seeber and Barker did a parody Saturday Night Live skit in which Seeber donned mini-hands on her fingers. I’m not exactly sure how to describe the hands, exactly. But trust me, it was hilarious.

Drew McCardwell. WHAT A GUY. He can strum a guitar like nobody else I’ve ever seen before. The start of the first song he played reminded me of a pretty summer morning just as the sun is rising in the countryside. Wow, that was specific. Needless to say it was peaceful and lovely. The sound that resonates from his guitar as he casually plucks the strings is so tranquil. The second song he played started with him drumming a beat on the guitar itself. This song he played by plucking the strings on the side of his instrument while making a beat with his free hand. It was fascinating how he could form such a lovely sound from touching the guitar at different spots. His entire performance was quite unique. Also, shameless plug here for his band Mr. Magic and the Watermelon Men. Check them out!

Following Drew, the tune to “Everybody Dance Now” commences as sisters Bridget (12) and Elli (10) Ertl Irish dance their way across the stage floor. They are donned in traditional Irish dancing wigs and dancing shoes. Basically, the dance was like a competition between the two sisters. Bridget’s smile gives me life. Not only is she the sweetest person ever, but she will and can destroy you in an Irish dance battle.

The final act, Isa Figueroa, makes her way on stage to sing two songs, one while playing the piano, and the other a guitar. Her voice is as clear as a bell, and the transition she makes to her head voice is flawless. I cannot express how beautiful Isa is. Her singing, looks, and personality are all so gorgeous in their own right. Both songs had not one identifiable flaw. Her sweet face and sweeter voice was the perfect choice to save for the end. All in all, simply stunning performance.

Following Isa was the biggest surprise of all: teachers joined Seeber in a bit. All the teachers pretended to be students as Mrs. Figueroa played the substitute. IT WAS HILARIOUS. Mrs. Weeks, upon entering the ‘classroom’ said, “Mrs. Weeks is SO extra.” Following that, Jim French played a student who came in late. The way they dressed, the things they said, and the way they reacted to their names being mispronounced was so accurate. After Mrs. Figueroa said, “I can’t stop the feeling” during a classic substitute teacher breakdown, the four English teachers started dancing. Like, hardcore. And they did it SO WELL. It was iconic, and super fun to watch.

Overall, this talent show was the best I’ve seen thus far in high school. Not only were all the acts great, but Abby Seeber and Eli Barker were the best hosts I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Sorry, Aaron Applebey and Peter Maurer. Seeber and Barker take the cake.


3rd place: Drew McCardwell (12)

2nd place: Jillian Bowe (11)

1st place: The Ertl Sisters (10 & 12)