Review: Varieties semi-finals showcases diverse talents

Student Aarron Eckley performing the song “Faithful” by Journey on the first night of the Varieties Semi-Finals on Feb. 9 at the Memorial Union.


I have always loved the performing arts. Having worked in the theater in some capacity for four years, the Varieties semi-finals were an amazing experience to remind me of just how much I love the theater.

I attended both nights of the Varieties Semi-Finals, and I have to say, there is a wide range of talent here at Iowa State. The acts varied from the mini-musicals to an individual comedy act. I had a few thoughts on each of the performers.

Night one:

Aaron Eckley (Vignette): You have an amazing falsetto voice. You hit the notes in “Faithfully” by Journey many people wouldn’t dream of attempting to hit. Your passion shone through to the audience clear as day.

“Next Top Broadway Star: A Battle for the Spotlight”: I love your idea to have a comic narrator for your show. He regularly got laughs from the audience. Your dialogue exchange seemed natural with your characters and songs. I would try to speed up your transitions from scene-to-scene.

Matt Banwart (Vignette): You came up with a good set here. You were able to use your life as a base for your jokes. I especially liked your hairy belly joke. Colorful character, that man who showed you his belly.

Christian Quiles (Vignette): I love guitar, and your choice of songs was amazing. I could have closed my eyes and listened to you all day. Your simple sound made me want more.

“Lights, Camera, Action!”: Your story idea was unique. I like how you took us back to the ’90s with your sets and costume choices. There were some cleverly hidden song lyrics in the dialogue I loved.

Grandma Mojos Moonshine Revival (Vignette): I have never seen a comedy act like yours in person. I loved you that you got the audience involved. I think the vacation slides idea was original and engaging. 

“The Final Rose”: This one took the theme in a direction I hadn’t even thought of. Your characters were well developed. The plot kept people paying attention to you the whole way. I loved the trumpet in the band.

Tenley Propst, Elyse Davis, Taylor Decker (Vignette): I was surprised by the songs you chose to combine. Where did you get the idea? The Greatest Showman met Camp Rock with simple harmonies, I really enjoyed it.

Night Two:

Meghan Williams and Morgan Sacia (Vignette): Your rendition of “Don’t Rain On My Parade” was well rehearsed, and both of your voices were extremely powerful. Overall, it was a good way to start the night.

“Heros”: This show was sad, funny and uplifting. I thought your story was unique and drew in the audience with emotion behind the comic book heroes from the main character’s imagination. I will even forgive you for the fact Spider-Man is not DC Comics.

Kara Masteller w/ Parker Reed, Josh Petefish, Miles Lucas (Vignette): I loved your simple arrangements of the Lawrence songs. Mastellar, you have a very unique voice that fit with the songs very well. Overall, I loved your groove.

Colette Kocek (Vignette): I loved that you chose to share a personal, original song with the audience. Your voice fit perfectly with the style of the song, its tone unique and emotional. I could feel your emotion from the audience.

“A Space Jam”: I thought your idea was creative as well as interesting. Your characters were developed well, and your choice of black and white sets fit with your show. I think the most interesting thing was the continuous story line. Cutting out blackout transitions was a good idea for your show.

Philip Cordova and Shannon Robins (Vignette): I thought your well choreographed dance routine was very cute. Your outfits looked perfect for a song-and-dance, and your lifts were really fun additions to your routine.

“A Tripp To Remember”: Your choreography, story and sets were all on point. Your use of painted panels was brilliant for quick set changes. The redemption story of you big-city star returning home was perfect. The song sung to the grandmother was beautiful!

Willa Colville and Michael Walsh (Vignette): “House of the Rising Sun” is a powerful song if performed correctly, and you blew it out of the water. Colville, your voice is amazing and powerful. Your tone fit the song to a T, and your power blew the audience away. The Animals would be proud.

Varieties is an event everyone at Iowa State should experience. The talent of the students here is incredible, and the dedication to Varieties is apparent in every performance. I can’t wait to see the acts again in the finals. Good luck to all of the acts.

The mini-musicals moving onto finals are:

“The Final Rose”

“A Space Jam”


“A Tripp to Remember”

The vignettes moving on are:

Colette Kocek

Matt Banwart

Kara Mastellar, Parker Reed, Josh Petefish and Miles Lucas

Willa Colville and Michael Walsh