As an SMU ambassador toured prospective students carrying the traditional SMU backpacks around the on-stage imaginary campus, the Southern guide, a Cali “dude,” and a British boy with his overbearing mother comically introduced the audience to the talent show’s performances. These were unexpected masters of ceremony but the bigger surprise was one of the winning acts.
Dan Li won the individual category and the Southern Gentlemen won the group category of the 38th Annual Family Weekend Talent Show at the Caruth Auditorium Friday night.
“It’s just great to be part of this group,” said Southern Gentlemen singer Vinnie Mahal, who recently became part of the group as a freshman majoring in vocal performance. He attributes his positive experience with fellow singers to their humor and support.
The Southern Gentlemen were praised by screaming girls in the audience as they performed. The 20 male students danced and sang a cappella to Bruno Mars’ “Treasure,” but what the audience didn’t expect was the stand-up comedy act by Chinese student Dan Li.
“I don’t care about the money. I just want to save $12 to get in,” said the first-year, as he joked about not wanting to pay for a ticket to the show after being awarded $400 for placing first.
The 19-year-old filled the packed auditorium with laughter as he made fun of himself and how he has adapted to U.S. culture, stating that he wishes to represent the Chinese minority group and “share my life story” as this is what inspires his jokes. Li’s parents weren’t able to see his performance because they are in China but he was glad other parents attended.
Visiting parents were entertained by the different acts presented throughout the Disney-themed night. Some were able to see their sons and daughters perform.
Being part of the talent show 25 years ago, Maren Titmas had the opportunity to watch her daughter perform in it. “I was very proud of her,” Titmas said, describing how she felt about her daughter, Tori Titmas, performing with her fellow masters of ceremony, Elizabeth Galbraith, Joshua Kezar and Michael Saunders.
Saunders also surprised those who didn’t know about his talents as a dancer. He joined the second-place winning dance. Performed by the SMU Hip Hop Crew, the dance was full of acrobatics and dramatics that mixed hip-hop with the Disney theme of the show.
But the philosophy and Spanish double major didn’t expect to win anything. “The Hip-Hop Crew has only been a group for two weeks,” Saunders said.
The winners of third place in the group category were the Mustang Mavericks with their country dancing to “Sorority Girl.” The second and third places for the individual category were awarded to the piano performance of “Deep” by Julian “JSpear” Spearman, and Oakheart, who played “Golden,” an original piece.
Other acts that received a favorable reaction from the audience were: “Roar,” by Uche Ndubiz, “Princess Diaries Waltz,” by the Ballroom Dance Club, “Mirrors,” by the Belle Tones, and “Awesome,” by the Voices of Inspiration.