College students prove talent in reality show knockoff

Thirteen enthusiastic students gathered in the Travers/Wolfe Main Lounge to unveil their musical abilities to the rest of the College community. These talented students were part of “TCNJ Idol,” a smaller-scale version of the TV hit “American Idol,” sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Leadership Development Program (LDP).

The lounge was filled with roughly 150 students who came out for the show on Feb. 22. Both the performers and the students coordinating the event were very pleased with the large turnout, since the $2 admission fee supported the Tsunami Relief Fund.

Many attended because they thought it would be a fun way to spend a Tuesday night, while others came to provide moral support for friends who were performing.

“I’m here to support my friend, and it sounded like a good charity event,” Julia Hughes, sophomore history major, said.

Kevin Kelly, freshman English major, along with the aptly-named Kevin Kelly’s Band, opened for the show with a rousing rendition of Ashlee Simpson’s hit “Pieces of Me.” After their performance, each contestant proceeded to get up on stage and show the audience and the judges what they were made of.

Over the course of the evening, many talented singers were revealed and there were also a couple of “wildcard” performances. One of these performers was Michael Wargo, freshman communications studies major, who sang a “Mary Poppins” medley, but not before donning a frock and some heels so that the audience felt as though they were watching the cheery British nanny herself, rather than Wargo.

The types of songs that were showcased varied with each contestant, ranging from Frank Sinatra to Lauren Hill. A Broadway selection even made it to the stage when Nicole Gust performed a song from “Wicked,” one of the most popular musicals on Broadway.

The College’s show was set up exactly like the TV version. There was, however, a lot less anxiety among the performers, most likely because they did not have to face Simon Cowell, the famed self-esteem destroyer, after their performances. Instead, three student judges evaluated the performers and, thankfully, their comments were not as brutal as some of the criticisms given out on “American Idol.” All three judges were members of the SGA: Annelise Catanzaro, junior communications major, Joanna Holguin, sophomore journalism major, and Kelly.

When all of the students had performed, the voting process began. Two winners were chosen, a People’s Choice and a Judges’ Choice. Each winner had a choice of a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble or the Olive Garden.

To select the People’s Choice winner, each performer stood on the stage with a jar, and the audience voted for their favorites by placing money in the various jars. Whoever earned the most money won the category.

A Judges’ Choice was selected after the three judges deliberated over who they thought performed the best overall.

“The judges had a really difficult time picking a winner since there were so many impressive singers,” Catanzaro said.

Once all of the votes were in, Joslyn John, senior biology major, was declared the People’s Choice winner, collecting a total of $110. She won the respect of the audience after doing a great performance of “At Last” by Etta James.

Although John was excited about winning, she seemed more pleased with the turnout. “I just want to thank everyone who came out and supported the cause,” she said.

After a few minutes of conversing, the judges also chose a winner, Kacie Rypisi, junior elementary education and English major, who gave a powerful performance of “Broken Wing” by Martina McBride.

“(It felt) amazing (to win),” Rypisi said. ‘I came in and performed my freshman year, so I’m glad I won this time.”

Rypisi, who has been singing since she was young, said she was glad that her work in choirs and shows had paid off.

By the end of the night, a total of about $500 was raised for the Tsunami Relief Fund and people walked away feeling impressed with the night’s performances.

“I thought the performances were really entertaining. Some of the contestants were amazing,” Catanzaro said. “The College’s students are without a doubt a talented group.”