Mama Madison: Another amazing talent show

The entertainment value of kid-powered creativity

My first post extolling the virtues of the middle school talent show was penned over three years ago. Every year since, I've told myself that I've exhausted the subject and make an internal promise not to write about the show again. But each year I have. And I will continue to do so. Because in my mind there is no better way for an adult to gain insight in to what's important in the lives of sixth, seventh and eighth graders than to watch them take the stage and perform acts of their own (sometimes edited) choosing.

My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage. And not just hard from a rehearsal perspective, although that's true. They've also worked hard on getting up the nerve to stand in front of a room full of adults, but more importantly their peers, and let their passions, sometimes pitch-perfect, other times slightly off-key, hang out.

This year's show was filled to the brim with a record setting 29 acts (the show is a victim of its own success). String instruments were popular including a fiddling trio, two classical guitarists and a fairly contemporary take on the "Theme from the Pirates of the Caribbean" featuring a remarkably skilled sixth-grade, violin-playing front man backed up an electric base and piano.

From a vocals standpoint, we were treated to the ubiquitous "Let It Go" not just in English (quite surprisingly, only once), but also in Japanese ("Ari No Mama"). And Adele, who was the undisputed queen of the 2012 show, was upstaged in 2014 by the work of Sara Bareilles.

There were multitudes of dance numbers, most by boys. In my day, middle school boys didn't dance, at least not in public. But these dudes clearly got the memo, maybe from their dads, that guys who can dance will be quite sought after come their first college house party. And thanks to those same boys, I can now boast to be one of the few upper Midwest moms who can distinguish the difference between K-pop and J-pop.

And no youth talent show experience is complete, of course, without the middle school band; this year we were treated to two. The first, in a déjà vu moment, played a rousing rendition of AC/DC's "Back in Black." I'm pretty sure that was played at my own middle school talent show more moons ago than I care to remember.

The second, also going old school, covered Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" replete with Ozzy Osborne's Birmingham accent. No bats, I am happy to report, were harmed in the performance.

Scary flying things did make an appearance though in the form of a dramatic recitation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" by a sixth-grade girl dressed like a hipster Elvira.

Calling it a variety show would be understatement; there was truly something for everyone. But in the end, it wasn't just the actual acts, per se, that brought the audience to their feet at the end of the hour and a half extravaganza.

Instead, I think it was also the chance for the standing-room-only crowd of parents, teachers and classmates to see fifty performers, uninhibited by the awkwardness of the tween years, to be, in the words of the oft-quoted Sara Bareilles, "brave."

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Talking about race with Families for Justice

Like many parents, I look at the wide world around my kids and do my best to prepare them for life. We talk about working hard, being kind and responsible, Internet safety, stranger danger, and the (gulp) birds and the bees. But what about a topic such as race?

Mama Madison: Checking it twice

If you're like me, looking around your house in the weeks before Christmas will probably have you convinced that the last thing your kids need to find underneath the tree is a pile of new toys.

Mama Madison: Managing holiday lists

I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want.

Girls on the Run of Dane County marks a decade of changing young lives

On the evening of Nov. 6, a throng of people gathered at Monona Terrace. They were there to attend an impressive anniversary shindig, but the real buzz of excitement centered on the event's guest of honor.

Mama Madison: Mom dates are hard

You may call them "play dates," but I like the term "mom dates," especially since my kids are still too young to really care that there's another small person to squabble over toys with.

Mama Madison: No judgments with No Excuse Mom

If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.

Mama Madison: Introducing kids to your CSA box

At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).

Mama Madison: Changing tables, changing times

My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.

From museum to school with MMoCA

"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.

Mama Madison: Coping with toddlers in a Wisconsin winter

I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.

Mama Madison: Melissa Wardy pushes positive messages

I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.

Mama Madison: Three cheers for reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival

Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.

Mama Madison: What's in a name?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.

Mama Madison: Eugster's is more than just a visit to the farm

At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.

Help for home-schoolers at the Madison Mentor Center

Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"

Mama Madison: Yummy Sprout is a wonderful resource

After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?

Mama Madison: Tips and tricks for baby air travel

As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.

Mama Madison: Apple-picking time

The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.

Mama Madison: Baby feeding recommendations

I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?

Heartland Farm Sanctuary helps animals that help kids

Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.