Top musical talents on display at Varieties


Justin Bader/Iowa State Daily

The cast of “The Music Inside” performed at varieties finals on Friday. Varieties consists of 16-22 minute mini-musicals and solo or small group performances put on by ISU students.

Mike Burvee and Joe Badger

The Great Room of the Memorial Union was host to the finals of “Let the Beat Rock,” the 85th Annual Varieties Talent Competition this weekend, put on by the Student Union Board with the pairing Two Hearts Beat as One winning best overall performance.

Emcees Connor Klein, Sammy Jordan and Kaitlyn Trampel announced that the finalists had been working on their acts since last October, and that these 20-minute “mini-musicals” and the shorter vignettes, where students display their individual talents, were the “kings amongst peasants.” 

Singer and songwriter Leo Helm, an international exchange student from Scotland, opened the evening event by playing his own love song. Helm’s beautiful acoustic piece was followed by an upbeat, pop-sounding song titled “Hot Lemonade.” 

The opening pairing of the night was a modernized version of the classic Toy Story, entitled “Unbroken: A Toy’s Story.” The performance featured some classical characters such as Ken, Buzz and Woody, as well as some new characters such as Sam the Sock Monkey and The Queen.

Through a series of well-choreographed scenes, adapted classical songs and a playful backdrop, the characters went on to show that even broken toys deserve love, and that no matter how old you are, you’re never too old for “Toy Story.” This pairing won Best Supporting Actress and took home the trophy for the third best overall performance.

For the second vignette, Ryan Sulsberger started by playing what he claimed to be, “a super cheesy” medieval-themed love song. His second song was a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “The River.” The crowd even joined in.

The Music Inside, a High School Musical parody, was the final act before intermission. Jesse, the main character, went on a quest to learn more about music. This so-called quest took him to sets themed as “High School Musical,” “Grease” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Jesse discovered that life is about doing something you love. 

Discovering the Beat, a Stone-Age-themed musical, featured a young girl named Hunter, who was shunned by her village until she saved them from a pair of dinosaurs by discovering music. She learned that believing in yourself is most important even when others don’t, even if that means taking a risk. This music consisted of parodies to Gwen Stefani’s popular hit “Hollaback Girl” and “Dirty Little Secret” by the All-American Rejects.   

Christian Weiland and Turner Sundby loosened the crowd when Weiland performed a cover of “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber, before Sundby featured their second number, a cover to Hotline Bling. 

Two Hearts Beat as One, the final pairing to perform, showed that while people may be different, specifically country folk versus city kids, they can get along just the same. A love story between characters Brooks and Mariah seemed to really win over the audience’s hearts.

To go along with some acrobatic stunts as well as complex choreography, it truly seemed like they were a professional group of performers. The act ended with parodies to “Drops of Jupiter” and “Waking Up in Vegas,” as well as an on-stage kiss that got the whole crowd excited. Nominated for many awards, this pairing won the most including: Best Male Vocalist, Best Female Vocalist, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Line and Best Overall Performance.