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Some people dream about it in elementary. Others wait years for the chance, looking forward to high school and senior year because that’s when they’ll get a shot. The list is elite and only six will be chosen.
This year, LAHS seniors Mireya Bouquin, Amethyst Collins, Bob Collum, Molly Finn, Kevin Smale and Kayla Suazo are the group chosen to emcee “Breaking the Bank,” the Olions’ annual ’Topper Revue.
While being an emcee might sound simple enough, the group has more responsibility than one might imagine. They are in charge of choosing the acts for ’Topper Revue. In fact, from a group of 30, they were responsible for choosing 15-20 that would be in the show. They ended up with 18 acts. In addition, they are also responsible for writing the script for — and hosting — the show.
“We’re like the glue,” Suazo said. “We did the posters and the videos and we chose the acts.”
Tryouts can be nerve-wracking as each candidate is expected to come up with a monologue, write it and perform it. During try-outs they also play improv games that will test their ability to adapt and overcome when faced with unexpected occurrences.
Suazo, 17, is one of those students that waited nearly her entire school career to try out for an emcee spot. “I went to elementary at Chamisa and was an emcee there,” she said. Despite her enthusiasm, she got cold feet and wasn’t sure if she wanted to audition after all. It wasn’t until she saw a fellow student filling out a tryout form, that she decided to overcome her fear of auditioning and take the leap. Her monologue centered on creepy family Christmas parties.
Seventeen-year-old Smale’s monologue was a bit different. It centered on him and his friend going to a bar. “I keep quoting Beatles’ songs because I’m so in love with all the women here,” he said, indicating that his character is a bit of a ladies’ man.
Quiet and soft-spoken Bouquin, 17, doesn’t seem like the type that would audition for an emcee spot, but after seeing ’Topper Revue for “years,” she decided to give it a shot because they seemed to “have fun.” Her monologue focused on the nightlife in Los Alamos. She poked fun at the lack of nocturnal events, suggesting that a popular activity for LA residents is to gather in the Smith’s parking lot, line their Subarus up and listen to jazz music for fun.
Collum jokingly said he decided in fifth grade that he would audition for an emcee spot. “I was teching for other ’Topper Revues and when the auditions came around, I had my form filled out before anyone else,” he said.
Despite the fact that he had “17 billion ideas” for a monologue, he decided to talk about his family and how his mother has the investigative and interrogation skills that would make a CIA agent envious.
Molly Finn, 17, decided to subject the judges to what she describes as “terrible puns about my name and other things” during her audition. She said being an emcee has been a dream of hers since moving to Los Alamos.
Rounding out the group is Collins, 17. She said she originally saw the ad for emcee auditions in a bathroom stall and thought trying out would be “kind of cool.”
At first she struggled with subject matter for her monologue, asking herself, “what would be funny coming from me?”
She eventually settled on band because she is part of the LAHS band. In her monologue, she poked fun at the band director and the various instruments.
Despite the group’s tendency to infuse humor into their roles as emcees, they collectively agreed that being an emcee has allowed them to see their fellow students in a different light.
“You get to see your peers perform something you didn’t know they could do,” Smale said.
In addition, Suazo said the group has become closer, as a result of working together.
It’s also afforded them the opportunity to hang out with people that are not part of their regular circle of friends.
“I’m excited to be on stage,” Collins added. “It will be cool to be on stage with an audience that has to pay.”
Bouquin said there’s a benefit to attending ’Topper Revue, because it will give the older Los Alamos population a glimpse at what teens are “into.”
“It’s the best show that the school put on. It’s the most fun,” Collum said.
But despite their enthusiasm about the show, there is also a part of them that is dreading the final curtain call.
“After ’Topper Revue, this is essentially the last thing we will do in high school,” Smale said. “This is our last hurrah, then we graduate and move on. It symbolizes the end of the year.”
For right now, the group isn’t thinking about the end of school because they’re too excited about the show and the fact that their emcee attire consists of tuxedos and Converse sneakers.
They’re also enthusiastic about becoming part of LAHS history, when they get to sign the proscenium wall on the stage at Duane Smith Auditorium.
Signing the wall is a tradition for senior students that have been in theatrical performances.
“The oldest date I’ve been able to find is 1993, however it also looks like it was painted over and may have been going on much longer,” said theatre teacher Jillian Morse. “I know it’s a great honor to sign the wall and I’m excited for my seniors when they get ready to do it.”
“Breaking the Bank” will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 and 4; and at 2 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Duane Smith Auditorium.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students/seniors and can be purchased at the door.