Tutus, talent and trig at Mr. North

The annual Mr. North performance was held in the auditorium at 7 PM on Saturday, April 26.  Michael Leung won the title of Mr. North, and seniors Durgesh Prusty and Adam Kercheval finished second and third, respectively.

This year’s show was themed “King of the Jungle”; the opening video featured all of the contestants clad in animal costumes and included the opening song to “The Lion King.”  The contestants then ran onto the stage and danced to “What Does the Fox Say” by Ylvis.  Even executive board president Lev Gedrich appeared onstage, walking Pongo, a miniature horse, during part of the song.

The opening act, among many other parts of the show, required lots of coordination—the lighting, soundtrack, stage movements, and dialogue all had to flow cohesively to create anentertaining final product.  “The contestants have been planning their acts since the beginning of the month—and for me at least, since freshman year,” said senior Adam Kercheval, a special operations officer on executive board and a Mr. North contestant.  During the week before the show, all of the acts are run through thoroughly many times to assure that every guy’s spot is great!”

But before any of the scenes were fleshed out, the contestants had to be selected.  According to EBoard member Ambika Nair, after the initial auditions, student council considers a lot of different factors when choosing contestants.  “We looked at how each act would match with one another and whether they would contribute to a fluid show,” Nair said.  “We considered the acts individually and then compared them against one another in our discussion.”

Once the contestants had been selected, the practices began.  A group of student council members and the contestants would arrive at the school at 6:30 AM and would sometimes stay as late as 11 PM to rehearse.  “We depend on the entire student council to do their part in their committee and collaborate with every other committee to get the show done,” said junior Shruti Marathe, an EBoard member.“We have two backstage committees, a lighting group, a sound group, a marketing committee, and even more.  It’s important for each person to do their part and then work together so nothing breaks down.”  The individual acts featured musical performances, singing, and even senior Martin Moreno dancing in a pink tutu.  Leung’s winning performance included a series of different dances weaved into a storyline about impressing Chanelle Courtney.

The contestants had a lot of work to do, and ultimately they got the most out of the event.  “The process that we, the contestants, and the staff go through is so exhilarating and fun that we seem to forget that we woke up an hour earlier to come to school at 6:30 in the morning,” Leung said.  “If I were to choose between getting the title of Mr. North and going through this whole Mr. North process again, I’d give back the crown in a heartbeat.”

This experience felt new even for longtime performer Prusty.  “I enjoyed working with the other contestants.  We have so many inside jokes now—the eleven of us have bonded as a result.  I’ve also learned to ‘dance with who you brought.’  All the work to make sure the cues, music, and lighting were spot-on [with our acts] was unimaginable,” Prusty said.

The audience enjoyed the program just as much as the contestants enjoyed acting.  As the year wraps up, many students who share classes with the seniors came to support their friends.  “Mr. North was funny, and I liked being there for the seniors.  It was amusing, as always,” junior Katherine Chen said.

The judges also livened the performance.  Science teacher Kristina Nicosia, math teacher Robert Boyce, who couldn’t stop talking about trigonometry, and history teacher Greg Buggé made amusing commentary after each act, throwing in jokes they often use in the classroom.  “People of specific groups that wouldn’t normally come to Mr. North would be amused by hearing [these judges],” Marathe said.  According to Kercheval, EBoard looked for “fun, charismatic teachers who [would] not only decide Mr. North but also make the whole show more entertaining.”

The proceeds of Mr. North, totaling $6,500, went to senior scholarships and a charity organization called Attitudes in Reverse.  The organization was founded by the parents of Kenny Baker, who committed suicide in 2009, to raise awareness about mental illnesses.  Contestants raised money for the charity throughout the week, and Leung raised the most money.

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