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Coffee House Provides Passionate Performances
March 20, 2023
I had the pleasure of attending Coffee House — an annual event hosted by the student government association on Friday, March 17. I never embraced the opportunity to attend in the past, whether because of my apathy during freshman year or various circumstances the following years. I truly did not have high expectations, but I made an arrangement with a friend to see what all the excitement was about, and so I volunteered my time to sell tickets and waited at the door as eager performers and community members streamed in at 6 p.m.
The first performance of the night, was by a friend of mine. I had no expectations for who would be performing or when, so it was a pleasant shock to me when I saw senior Maddie Van Zeeland stroll onto the stage from the left and perform a rather beautiful original song. She titled it Singing Pretty in Secrecy, and while admittedly a somber song, it was elegant.
Now, I knew previously Maddie was a talented singer. I’d seen her perform as the lead Anastasia earlier this year (fall musical). Nevertheless, I turned to my friend (who I had roped into selling tickets with me) and felt my hopes for the night’s performances rise.
And my newly roused hopes were met spectacularly. Senior Ella Mainvellie pranced around the stage with wild hand motions and a dazzling flair while singing Virtual Insanity, a tune unfamiliar to me but enthralling enough for a student about the leave for the night pause for one last song while saying “I have to see this.”
There was a duo of kazoo players, sophomore Aly Lamb and junior Sienna LaTonsea, who serenaded the crowd with their recreation of Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley. The entirety of the crowd, who I’d estimate to be around a hundred people, were clapping in synch with the spirited toot of the kazoo.
The evening featured singing, spoken word poetry, music and comedy galore.
When one of the performers, early into the night, got nervous on stage and quietly said: “I can’t do this” into the mic. After a brief silent pause, as she was moving to pick up her guitar, the crowd cheered for her. Encouraged, she continued with her performance. I’d never seen that before, not in person at least, a demonstration of collective goodwill to someone in need of a few kind words. She wrapped up her performance to roaring applause, and she performed again later that night — this time with no hesitation in her voice or cords.
Junior Anabelle Hodges let me witness, for the mere price of a $5 entrance fee, one of the most harrowingly hilarious comedy routines I have ever seen. While I have paid a frankly sickening amount of money to see comedians perform, few have had me full-belly laughing as Anabelle did. For those lucky enough to attend Coffee House or know Anabelle personally, I hope your feet are safe. Although, I find it unlikely anyone who attended this event did not at least consider shouting “get gripped” while fondling some unsuspecting victims’ feet, we may soon see others following Annabelle’s precarious path.
Seniors Simon Teckam and Kas Austin brought the crowd to a standing ovation at the conclusion of their spoken-word poem about violence against transgender people. Their poem was meticulously structured, using a countdown system while integrating coordinating statistics.
Nearing the end of the countdown, they told the story of a 6-year-old girl who wrote a letter to a governor, imploring for her rights to be upheld. Simon and Kas perfectly articulated how this child, who should be enjoying her early life is instead viewed as a predator by the people whose duty it is to protect her.
The finale of the night was senior Drake Jesse’s performance of After Dark.
The piece started on the electric piano, and then transferred to singing. I wish I could describe the song itself more, but most of my attention was focused on two young boys, brothers I assume, and perhaps 5-years-old.
They were off to the side of one of the leftmost tables, dancing together to the song. One would move his arms around like a recreation of a two-limbed octopus, while the other bent down to touch the floor with his hands before pushing up and spinning in circles. It was utterly uncoordinated and rather unpredictable. But they moved to the music, to Jesse’s voice and the beat. Once the song was done, the boys lumbered back over to their adult at the table while joking with each other. It was the perfect end to the show, at least in my mind.
And while the night was full of laughter and jest, there were somber and serious bits mixed in — similar to life.
I’d heard Coffee House described as a talent show, but that’s not quite what it felt like. Yes, the performers were talented, but it felt like an idyllic open mic night. Although the performances were scheduled, it had the feel of someone walking on stage and presenting whatever it was they were thinking of or working on. I felt as if I knew or could relate to these people, some of whom I am not even confident I could recognize if I saw them tomorrow in the halls. While I feel that by now my stance should be evident, I highly recommend anyone who feels they may enjoy these passionate performances and welcoming atmosphere attend the next Coffee House.
Parker De Decker, president of the student government association, captured moments of every act. The photo gallery below captures the crowd, the performers, and the atmosphere of Coffee House 2023.
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