A Backstage Pass to TNL

Updated: Apr 30

by TOMMY PUGH and ERIN CLARK - Performers share a behind-the-scenes look into their various unique Thursday Night Live acts.


WESTFIELD, Ind. (Feb. 27, 2020) - The stage glowed under the dim lights as Westfield High School’s annual talent show, Thursday Night Live, prepared to start. But behind the scenes, performers, and not just the singers, were getting prepared. This year, there was a wider variety of acts, including the infamous circus act.

Greg Geradot (10) presents his circus act for the first time at TNL (photo by KATIE HUMPHREY)

“The unicycle was really fun,” Greg Geradot (10), who delivered a circus performance, said. “Just because I don't really get many opportunities to do it just, and I'm not very good at it yet, so I have to stand on top of something when I get onto it. I wanted to do it so that I could get on and then go all the way around the auditorium, but I didn’t do that in rehearsal, so I didn't do that during the real thing. It gave people a solid amount of time to just look and be like, he is just perched on top of a single wheel.”


It took some mild convincing to get Geradot started in TNL, but once he was in, he was devoted.


“Well, Cooper [Tinsely (10)] is one of my friends, and he is a sophomore class officer, and he was like, ‘Greg, we have too many singers. We need someone who's not a singer,’” Gerardot said. “I was just thinking about all the skills I had. I got juggling, I got unicycling, you know, stuff like that. So then TNL seemed like a pretty logical step from there. I started out as a variety act, and I was going to do a lot more stuff, but then we focused into just circus stuff, and so that's what I did.”


Gerardot took a lot of pride in his work and brought a fresh kind of act to the stage. However, that didn’t mean that some old fan favorites missed out on the spotlight.

Max Degnan (11) performs on the Tenor Sax for Just Some Dudes (photo by KATIE HUMPHREY)

“My act was with my band Just Some Dudes,” Max Degnan (11), one of the band's saxophonists, said. “We played ‘Brooklyn’ by the Youngblood Brass Band. We’d had the music for a while, so specifically practicing for that probably didn't take us too long, maybe two weeks. Just Some Dudes had auditioned in the past, so we just decided we were going to do it again. We had a lot of fun last time and we had a lot of fun again.”


Like Just Some Dudes, Anya Burke (12) had done TNL before. This time, she returned to render her own edition of “Don’t Forget Me” from “SMASH.”


“I've done it since my freshman year, so I've done it all four years,” Burke said. “I wanted to make sure I was able to at least try all four years. I really love performing, it's what I want to go into, so the more times I can get up on stage and sing and perform, the better. And I really love the show that that song is from, and I really love the song. I feel like it's a good senior song, like ‘don't forget me once I leave.’”

Anya Burke (12) belts “Don’t Forget Me,” winning first place with her performance (photo by KATIE HUMPHREY)

For Mallory Cooper (11), the results of the contest were surprising and astounding.


“I wasn't expecting to win anything because there were so many singers,” Cooper said. “All of us did ballads. Nobody really sang a fun song except for like KC [Burge (11)] and Griffin [Burge (12)], so I was really surprised that they picked me because I also didn't feel like it was my best performance. I was really shocked that I even won anything, especially because it was my first year.”


Like Cooper, the winner found herself blindsided by the results.


“I was shocked,” Burke said. “I did not think I was going to win. I thought like the circus act or Connor [Housefield (11)] would win. I did not expect it. I was getting ready to clap for whoever won, and they said my name, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s me!’”

Mallory Cooper (11) sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” winning third place for her performance (photo by KATIE HUMPHREY)

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