Local student talent on display at After Dark

By Kristin Burns

Flashy talents like hip-hop dancing, a cappella and ventriloquism at After Dark wowed students and parents on Friday.

Student Productions hosted the annual variety show in Waco Hall to a full crowd of families and students as a part of Baylor’s Family Weekend festivities.

“Traditionally, we have two nights of auditions,” Cheryl Mathis, assistant director of Campus Programs, said. “Usually, we have 50 different acts apply and audition.”

Of these 50 acts that auditioned, 15 performed at the event that featured a large range of abilities from vocal performance, instrumental, dance and improv.

Andy Eaton and Rachel Smith, two members of Baylor’s Guerrilla Troupe comedy club, hosted the show and kept the crowd entertained as the crew set up for the next group of performers.

The Martin family from Frisco attended the 6:30 show and said they enjoyed their first After Dark at Baylor.

“It was really enjoyable to see the students who composed their own music,” said Kim Martin, a Baylor alumnus and parent.

Acts evoked a range of emotion from the audience as the night progressed. The comedic musical number, “#Moving Forward,” by Trannie Stevens and Jack Spalding brought laughs, while the slow-moving, country twang of Hunt Hewell had people in tears by the time he finished with a heartfelt chorus of “That Good ‘Ole Baylor Line.” Mathis said the variety of the show takes the audience through emotions and different feelings throughout the night.

Dancers of many styles twirled across the stage while using different techniques and music as accompaniment. From the lyrical dance of Hannah Adams to the hip-hop performance of a troop of 15 dancers, the show displayed Baylor’s capability of raw and graceful dance.

“I just liked that they kept the variety going through the show,” said Chuck Martin, a Baylor parent. “They mixed the dances up.”

For the first time, After Dark this year welcomed a ventriloquist to the stage. Freshman Brittany Tew entertained the crowd by dressing up a student as a dummy to use for her act. Tew sang and performed with the “dummy” all without moving her lips.

“It was never rehearsed,” Tew said. “He had no idea. I’ve been using someone different every practice.”

Many students displayed their vocal capabilities through original songs and played piano or guitar. Isabella Maso, a freshman, plucked away at her guitar strings all while using a pedal to create different layers of guitar notes.

“I think I really liked Isabella,” Mrs. Martin said. “She was so talented. She had that extra edge.”

Two a cappella groups brought different genres to the stage with only their voices and no instruments. The singing group, “VirtuOSO,” sang a soft melody and harmonized to the song, “Blackbird.” On the other hand, “A Cappella Magic,” created a soulful mood in their version of “Broadway, Here I Come” by harmonizing, humming, slapping their legs and snapping to the beat.

“There was an element of surprise in each one,” said Frisco freshman Emily Martin.

Guitars appeared many times throughout the evening but never sounded the same. Michael Fanning, a freshman, sang an original, pop song accompanied by a guitar while wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt and swaying to the beat. John Ucol melted the audience with his classical guitar piece while wearing a full suit and tie and closing his eyes as his fingers plucked and strummed the strings to the Latin ballad.

“It’s really cool that we are able to show a wide range of not only talent but student experience,” Mathis said.

The Rusty Bucket Band closed the show for their second appearance at After Dark. Waco junior Art Wellborn, leader of the band, said that After Dark is the band’s one show every year. The band ended the evening with a fun display of music from Coldplay.

Though not a competition, After Dark showcased some of the best talent Baylor has to offer from the 150 students that auditioned.

“Even though that we had a lot of dancer or musicians, their style of performing is really different, and it’s a different way of engaging an audience,” Mathis said.