Students display abilities at Spring Extravaganza Talent Show

Janine Ybanez/HIGHLANDER
Janine Ybanez/HIGHLANDER

From vocalists and guitarists to pianists and even more unorthodox talents, the Spring Extravaganza Talent Show in HUB 268 displayed a great range of potential among the passionate students who performed. Talent is something that has to be cultivated through hard work and cooperation and this is exactly what the members of the Student Disability Union presented on Friday night.

The first act was Kushal Sonawala, president of SDU. He shared his history of being an avid trumpet player since fifth grade while studying Bollywood and contemporary American music. After entertaining the crowd with his playful antics, he began belting out a Bollywood-inspired tune from “3 Idiots.” His voice reverberated throughout the room and people chanted and clapped to cheer him on. Sonawala was determined to hit all the notes the song required. He then fast-forwarded the clock to the 2010s and sung the party anthem “Time of our Lives” by Pitbull and Neyo to which the crowd joined in.

In a twist of events, SDU managed to bring in previous “American Idol” prospect “Rocky” Peter Ajoku, who was very gracious as he introduced his set. His words were almost therapeutic because of the emotion and vulnerability in his tone as he sang two original pieces: “Write and Erase” and “Wrong Places,” which addressed social injustices and domestic abuse. He strummed his guitar and captivated the crowd with his soulful voice as he sang his heart out. A quick scan of the room revealed just how enticing his lyrics were, and even I felt the emotional power of his songs.

Afterward, the show took a turn and entered a more comedic state. The UCR club Improv Anonymous came onto the stage to unveil a few acting improvisation games such as “Freeze,” which had the members cycling through various skits, and “Dating Game,” which featured the group acting as famous celebrities or other individuals while being interviewed by a bachelor to find love. Characters such as Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and a girl diagnosed with chronic gibberish disease were all portrayed hilariously in an attempt to swoon the bachelor. The final game, “Foursquare,” was similar to concept as “Freeze.” The actors entered a square and audience members frantically called out situational events to act out such as “Marijuana” and “Aliens.”

“June 27, 2007!?” “Sunday.” When Roshan Akula stated that he could figure out the exact day of any date, I was bewildered and I instantly dismissed the idea until someone gave him a date and he was able to match it to a Monday — which led to everyone attempting to prove his accuracy on their phones. Was he using a specific algorithm to calculate the exact date? I never figured it out and decided to just be amazed rather than hurt my brain by overthinking. It was an absolute spectacle and his talent was surely the most unique of the night.

Avantour was next to rise to the occasion. This duo, featuring a vocalist and violinist, tackled the Imagine Dragons’ anthem “It’s Time.” The two talents complemented each other nicely and the piano solo toward the end left everyone starstruck. The remainder of the show didn’t let up on excitement. An enthusiastic crowd member swooned to a serenade of one of Nick Carillo’s original songs “Bae,” and Brian To, one of the hosts of the show, talked about how he was affected by bullying at a young age because of Tourette’s syndrome. However, music and the support of his loved ones provided him with the strength he needed to carry on. He played a piano medley of “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars and “All of Me” by John Legend, which all seemed to have a sentimental meaning to him. These songs played an important part in his life and he displayed that through the vigor in his performance.

Rhythm and Brains was next as they performed “Come Together,” which easily hyped up the crowd. R.K. Lomarda’s gut-wrenching singing of the “Pocahontas” staple “Colors of the Wind” was an absolute showstopper. His voice cascaded through the verses with fluidity and excellence and left everyone in awe.

The final performance of the night featured To and Lomarda singing “Pricetag” by Jessie J, which nobody could resist grooving along to. It was a fitting end to such a lovely evening and despite the show running 20 minutes over, many of the audience members remained in their seats, attentive to the very last minute. It was amazing to see so much talent stationed here in Riverside and the momentum that filled the room was absolutely incredible. The talent show didn’t have to be widescale to win over the hearts and souls of the attendees and it just goes to show that all you need is pure unadulterated talent and a lot of heart.

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