Let’s be honest – there’s little else more hit-or-miss than a talent show. It is a gargantuan pain in the ass to organise, precisely because a million and one factors come into play – you want a charismatic MC but you don’t want them to overdo it; you need performers of a certain caliber; and you need a judging panel that is able to tread the fine line between being encouraging to the performers yet not becoming gratingly cheesy or mawkish. Oh, and everyone needs to be entertained – a tremendously difficult task in the 21st century, lest their thoughts wander towards punching out a soul-crushingly mindless quick fix of Flappy Bird on their iPhones. Indeed, the very notion of a ‘talent show’ evokes memories of cringy school performances put on by overly eager, acne possessed and puberty-ravaged youths trapped in an auditorium, as beaming parents snapped away on their cameras.
I only say all this to emphasise how pleasantly surprised I was by how impressive this year’s St Andrews Got Talent was.
The evening saw a solid range of acts covered, including singers, musicians, dancers, beatboxers, poets and comedians; as well as a promising judging panel consisting of Association President Chloe Hill, stand-up comedian Leon O’Rourke, Melody Wentz from the Blue Angels and STAR’s station manager Oscar Swedrup. Mark Gregory and Mimi von Schack did a brilliant job of hosting, as did the UNICEF committee who organised the event.
Despite the disappointment of a late start, the swoony Ticho opened and redeemed the wait immediately with their song ‘Dead Weight’, which was received almost too enthusiastically by judge Leon, who confessed that he “swore to God [he] ovulated” when the harmonica player came on with his solo.
Following the charming band was Zorbey Turkalp, who performed a stunning Spanish classical piece on the piano. His passion for music was clear for all to see, proving that fifteen years of practice had certainly paid off.
Up next, the evening’s runner-up Emma Middleton performed a slam poetry piece about finding meaning in what could be a diminishing college drinking culture. The profundity and courage of this young fresher was striking to say the least, attesting to her well-deserved spot on second place.
Two female singers, Courtney Hays and Millicent Wilkinson followed, both delivering powerful performances of the Wicked soundtrack and a personalized rendition of Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ respectively.
As the guest dancers Blue Angels twirled their way into the audience’s hearts, the strings trio Gaelic Sea roused the audience with distinctly Scottish themes and ceilidh-inducing harmonies. Amongst the seemingly demure musicians however was Craig, who stole the spotlight with his humour and spectacular taste in ‘women’, particularly in his claim that the cello was his “favourite lover cuz [he] can put it between [his] legs”.
Glaswegian comedian Duncan Adam brought home a relevant diagnosis of St Andrews hall culture, seen in his astute comment that “if the halls were Hogwarts houses, Sallies would be Gryffindor… because the chosen one went there and they’re never going to let us forget about it!” Albany Park of course, was equated to The Chamber of Secrets.
Beatboxer and second runner-up Jonathan Minter bashed out some sick beats on the microphone, and even managed to turn Josh Groban dubstep. As you take time to imagine how that might be possible, meanwhile, Samuelle Fajutrao Valles charmed the audience with her adorable personality and original song about dating in St Andrews.
The winner of the evening was Deirdre Sullivan, whose quirkily sweet voice, brilliant control and amazing stage presence won over the hearts of the audience and the judges alike. All in all, it must be said that St Andrews Got Talent was a RAG week tradition successfully upheld and well worth revisiting.