By Jacob Guerra | The Duquesne Duke
The Office of Residence Life gave an artsy twist to Family Weekend with its annual talent show on Saturday night in the Union Ballroom.
A mix of eight individual and group talents with or without their parents or siblings performed for an audience and panel of judges with a chance to win an assortment of monetary prizes.
However, winning prizes was not restricted to performers. Between acts, the resident director of Towers Anthony Kane and assistant resident director Toriano Thomas asked members of the audience Duquesne-inspired trivia questions. Correct answers were rewarded with Duquesne merchandise from the on-campus bookstore.
In a post-show email, St. Ann’s resident director Justine Valenti remarked on the show’s origins in Family Weekend.
“The talent show started because the [Office of Resident Life] noticed that a lot of the Family Weekend events ended in the evening, but there wasn’t any kind of entertainment at night,” she wrote. “We wanted to provide families with a special event that included their children.”
To start off the night, Duquesne’s very own Encore Show Choir gave special performances of “Bridge over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel and “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole, both hit songs from the 1970s.
After this throwback, sophomore Angela Mignanelli was next with something newer. She performed a unique version of Adele’s 2011 power ballad “Set Fire to the Rain,” using her acoustic guitar in place of the song’s piano. The performance won her second place in the competition, along with a $75 Visa gift card.
The third act included freshman Jacob Proto and his cousin Timmy Carr. Like Mignanelli, they brought their acoustic guitars to the stage. Instead of singing, they gave an improvised guitar jam that showcased their ability to work off of each other’s playing.
Up next was sophomore Will Putschi playing bass with his father Peter on guitar. They performed “Soul to Squeeze,” a popular track from 1993 by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“It felt good to be out in front of everyone,” said Will. “My friends came right up front and sat right there to support me, so that was real cool … I think that was the spirit of Family Weekend, was having everyone there and being onstage with my dad, so it was nice.”
The following act was freshman Stephen Robinson singing Maroon 5’s 2004 single, “Sunday Morning.” Dressed in a slick jacket, he ended up winning the People’s Choice and a $50 Visa card.
After Robinson, Duquesne’s own Michael Makar and Jillian Lesaca from the Spotlight Musical Theatre Company gave a theatrical performance of “On the Right Track” from the “Pippin” musical soundtrack. They won third place, and also received a $50 Visa card.
Sophomore AJ Arnett and his two younger brothers, Daniel and Ren, performed next. Dressed in “Star Wars” masks, AJ and Daniel fought with toy lightsabers as Ren played a theme from the movie on a glockenspiel behind them. The brothers won the judges’ favor, walking away with first place and a $100 Visa card.
Toward the end of the show, Duquesne freshman Paul Lutty gave a solo vocal performance of “This Nearly Was Mine” from the musical soundtrack of “South Pacific.” He was followed by freshmen Maria Foster and Autumn Gundy, who closed with A Great Big World’s 2013 hit “Say Something.”
After the set, sophomore Laura Pollino said she attended the show last year with her family. She brought them back this year, and expressed enthusiasm for the event. “I think it brings family together,” she said. “It’s my favorite [event] of family weekend.”
Although the acts ended with Foster and Gundy, a group of Towers RA’s began dancing onstage to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” The moment was an excellent reminder that the audience could thank the ORL for the enjoyable family event.