By SAMIKA PARAB, junior
On the night of December 5th, JP students had the opportunity to witness the talent of their classmates during the annual JPS Got Talent. As the auditorium seats filled and the lights dimmed, both the audience and the performers backstage were excited for the show to begin.
The opening video signaled the start of the night, featuring seniors Devin Liu and Megha Rahi as they acted out a parody of the Devil Wears Prada titled ”Devin Wears Prada.” The audience laughed at many parts of the video, especially when Devin broke out his Michael Jackson moves behind two oblivious girls. Their humor was based on the theme of Kardashon, a term that Devin jokingly suggested to Megha weeks before the show. He says, “When I first asked Megha to be my co-host, I emphasized the need to look elegant and modern, almost like homage to the 50th anniversary.” Both of them wanted a word that meant fabulous and glamorous. Devin goes on to explain, “That’s where ‘Kardashon’ comes from. It was our attempt to be avant garde. The relationship on stage was really a satire of our friendship.”
Of course, the performances themselves were the highlight of the night. The first performers were juniors Priya Mukherjee, Melody Oztan, and Anish Soni, who presented a mash-up of “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne and “3005” by Childish Gambino. Priya sang while Melody played the guitar and Anish played the drums. Priya says, “It was rough for me that day because I had to go back and forth with a MUN conference as well. But, in the end, it all worked out, and I had the time of my life performing with my best friends.” The other singing trio, sophomores Annum Haqqi, Ria Karangutkar, and Simran Belani, took the stage with their acoustic mash-up of Maroon 5 songs. Sophomores Shyamala Subramanian and Victoria Tan also blended two styles when they sang Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” and played the ukulele as background music. “Victoria and I actually do covers on YouTube with the ukulele,” Shyamala later explained. “We were always fascinated with ukulele music, and we thought that the talent show was the best way to share our love for music with everyone else.”
Freshman soloist Tajira Harmon followed with her cover of “Pretty Hurts” by Beyonce, and her voice reflected the emotions of the song in the same way junior Shawki Perry expressed his passion in his cover of “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse.
Along with singing acts, there were many dance performances as well. Freshman Matt Curte entertained the audience with his robotic performance of “Sorry for Party Rocking.” Junior Veronica and freshman Gabriel Beltran also turned the stage into a dance floor, choreographing their moves to “Partition” by Beyonce. Likewise, seniors Aditi Shah and Sarika Agarwal danced to a fast-paced number that included the most popular hip hop songs, such as “Na Na” by Trey Songz and “I Can Transform Ya” by Chris Brown.
Apart from singing and dancing, the audience was exposed to other art forms. Seniors Jack Chiu and Lawrence Lin presented a martial arts routine with hand and feet movements that resembled those in the Karate Kid. After the intermission, senior Jaquille Sharp brought a new talent to the stage: rapping. Not only did he enunciate his words clearly, but he also wrote the rap, dedicated it to his grandmother, himself. In addition, juniors Shekhar Kripalani, Umang Sheth, and freshman Varun Das represented the JPS drumline successfully with a drum off that began with slow beats and eventually became faster to create a climactic build up at the end. Umang reflects on his group’s performance by saying, “We practiced part of our music during marching band season. But, the majority of the performance was improvisation. Basically, we performed without any practice, which was the reason why we were nervous at first.”
After viewing all the performances, the judges had to make the decision of picking which three teams were Kardashon enough to proceed to round two. The panel of judges included Ms. Biloholowski, Mr. Mayes, Mr. McMullen, and Ms. O’Neill, who went backstage to finalize their choices. Mr. Mayes comments, “All of the acts this year were so entertaining and talented, I felt as if I was splitting hairs to pick the top three! They all had talents I could never dream of being able to do.” A couple of minutes later, the second round started with Shyamala and Victoria, who sang “Sweater Weather” by the Neighborhood. Next up were Veronica and Gabriel, who danced their hearts out to “Burning Up” by Jessie J and kept their energy high during the entire sequence. Shekhar, Umang, and Varun were also asked to return. In their second act, they moved across the stage pounding their drums in a series of catchy beats.
When it was time to announce the winners, everybody held their breath. The top three contestants stood on stage silently, awaiting the ultimate result. As an audience member, junior Ketaki Joshi describes the scene as such: “In the moments before they told us who won, everyone was so quiet that you could almost hear a pin drop. All three groups were equally qualified to be the victors.”
The hosts, after taking a long pause to drive the audience’s anticipation, finally announced the winners: Veronica and Gabriel Beltran. Veronica says, “Winning was just a bonus. The real joy was having the chance to showcase our talent and being able to perform with our talented peers.” Indeed, all the students who performed that night were winners for demonstrating their talent and having the courage to do so.