Northeastern’s Got Talent

    More stories from Hailey G. Boyle


    Hailey G. Boyle

    Tasiana Villalobos and her partner perform a flamenco dance entitled Bellamente Roto.

    The lights dimmed in the auditorium. Silence throughout the dark stage. Suddenly the Star Wars theme blares and host Aaron Schiffman enters. Along with his co-host Tara Shedor, a “volunteer” from the audience, they are ready to begin the 2015 NEIU talent show.

    With 14 diverse acts, the evening provided something for everyone. Sponsored by the Northeastern Programming Board, the show featured spoken word, original dance, singing, original music, instrumentals and something called animated anointing. Unfortunately due to a family emergency, the fifteenth act, Ribbon 4 Cure was unable to compete.

    While all the acts were great, I mean it, all the acts were wonderfully talented, a few stood out. Student Alex Brown performed what he called animated anointing to Donnie McClurkin’s “Stand.” In traditional mime makeup, his act was a powerful combination of interpretive dance and mime.

    Josh Friedberg performed his original song “Some People Say,” a funny song that included some self-deprecating humor like the first line “Some people say that I smell” and “I won’t hurt you unless you hurt me first – so don’t ever hurt me first” which garnered laughs. But then it turned positive with lines like “Some people say that I will change the world.”

    “[It’s] my story about having Asperger’s Syndrome,” he said.

    Mia Blixt-Shehan proved that chicks can rock with her rendition of Queen’s “Brighton Rock.” She had the audience screaming as she shredded down the guitar’s neck and when she was done, she threw her pick into the audience.

    There was sadness too. Yahtzeni Gonzales, brought the audience to tears with her original poem “Dear Father.” A letter she could never send to her own father, she had asked the audience to hold out the glow sticks she had the NPB pass out if they related to a line she spoke. Gonzales accused the “father” of never being there, of beating her mother and had three of her friends hold candles in honor of all the women and children who have suffered domestic violence.

    The energy was lifted by band Normal Enough, led by student Zac Coleman. Audience members sang and clapped along to their cover of “Tear in my Heart” by Twenty One Pilots.

    “I love this song!” the girl in the front row shouted.

    Tevin Rice kept the energy going with his original dance to a medley of songs he entitled “Boss.” Mixing hip hop, ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz and cheerleader moves seamlessly into the routine; Rice made it look easy and the passion he held for dance was clear.

    As the judges deliberated over the winners, local rapper BGI performed two songs, one entitled, “This Is not Iraq” saying “I don’t appreciate how we call this [city] Chiraq.”

    Once the judges returned, there was a nervous energy among the contestants and the crowd. A lot was on the line. The entire cast of the show started doing a drum roll using their feet.

    In third place, was Yahtzeni Gonzales with $250. Second place went to Student Steven Cristi and his musical trio for their acoustic rendition Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are.” I’ll admit it, I fell a teeny bit in love. They won $500.

    First place, with prize of $1,100, went to Tevin Rice. Rice nearly fell to the floor as fellow performers cheered him on along with the crowd.

    The five judges were a mix of students and staff from the Student Development Office. The playbill that was passed out to the audience said that contestants would be judged on “talent, originality, audience appeal, presentation and ‘other.’”

    Other was defined as “that special something that makes them stand out!”

    Judge Brenda Young, a Public Information Specialist in Public Relations said “[Tevin] showcased all the different points we were looking for – talent, originality. He was very original in movement and conveyed the song very well.”

    As Rice walked to receive his certificate, the audience demanded “SPEECH! SPEECH!”

    The hosts offered him a mic and he thanked the judges and the audience.

    “There is incredible talent here today,” he said as he pointed to everyone onstage. “I doubted myself.”

    He jumped into his friends’ arms and celebrated a deserved victory.