By Georgia Brown
(March 14, 2023) — On March 9, 2023, Haddam-Killingworth High School was blessed with another Mr. HK performance! This year, the competition was tough. With nine contestants, a mash-up of one freshman, two sophomores, three juniors and three seniors, everyone knew the talent show would be full of talent.
Jeffrey Schull, the only freshman, had members of the wrestling team show up and yell out their support. Lucas Lawlor and William Lirot were the two sophomores, both of whom put on a musical performance. Juniors Thomas Young, Alec Sicurella, and David “Dave” Sargent had varying acts: bagpipe performance, comedy, and a rendition of “Upside Down” by Jack Johnson, respectively. Finally, our seniors, Tyson Glazier, AJ Campo, and Andrew Melnick: two were musical performances and one was a poetry slam.
Before the show started I was able to get a response to the basic question, “Who do you think is going to win?” While the answers varied and I did not ask as many people as I would have liked, the overall consensus was Tyson, with AJ and Jeffrey sprinkled in. The director (Paige Corcoran) and stage manager (Abigail Jones) did not give up who they were rooting for, but instead said that the show was going to be good. Not really the answer I was hoping for, but it was good of them not to be biased.
The show opened with a dance number featuring all contestants, which was choreographed by Ana Garcia, who was also one of the hosts of the show, accompanied by Ella Geissler. Each of the contestants had a video introducing themselves that answered the following questions: what they were doing, why they wanted to be Mr. HK, and what set them apart from the others. The quality of these videos varied greatly, but it was an insight into who these people were outside of the show. Breaking down the acts into categories there were musical, comedic, poetic, and martial art performances.
Tyson Glazier sang “I’m A Believer” from Shrek, all the while plugging the HK Spring Musical The Sound of Music.
AJ Campo sang an original song that he and a friend wrote called “Look on the Bright Side,” with piano music that was his as well. He also said that he wanted “to spread positivity, joy, and happiness through music.”
Thomas Young played the bagpipes, which he has been playing for a number of years, nothing that the stage had ever seen before. David played in a band with fellow HKHS students. They sang and played “Upside Down” by Jack Johnson, afterward saying it had kind of been thrown together at the last minute. Many were probably not able to tell that it had been. Finally, Lucas played with a band as well. The song chosen was by Metallica, which was loud, but brought energy back to the show.
The comedic and poetic acts were done by Alec, Will, and Andrew. Though I think Will’s was meant to be musical, it ended up comedic because of the way it went. Starting with Alec, who finished second in the competition last year, he told jokes again. Who doesn’t appreciate a little stand-up comedy? There were math, theater, and overall relatable teenage jokes. He had the whole crowd and the judges laughing, with one judge, Mr. Grasso, saying that it was a “truly unique act.” With Will, the performance was a bit chaotic. We thought we were getting a musical act of him playing the ukulele and singing a song called “French Class,” but the ukulele would not tune. Quickly switching to just singing “Call Me Maybe,” (which he jokingly claimed he had written), he ended the performance by trying to tune the ukulele again, but to no avail. A short talent.
Andrew did a poetry slam, talking about good ol’ Brooklyn, New York, and how he could find no ham for his great-aunt’s 101st birthday. After finding no ham and being proclaimed a failure, he said he would get it for next year’s birthday. “She’ll have another one… maybe.” Another thing to note about this performance was that he was in socks, no shoes. Finally, Jeffrey, who I would say was the crowd favorite from the cheers I heard behind me. Showing some self-defense moves, demonstrated safely on a mat with a master as well, he presented blocks, punches, and kicks galore. And after the well-executed performance, Mr. Grasso asked about his volunteering with the Volunteer Fire Company, which was mentioned in his introduction video. Asked why he thought it was important, Jeffrey’s response was, “You get to protect your town. You’re committed to responding to emergencies and saving that person.” Truly a well-spoken answer and a wonderful act.
That ended the talent portion of the pageant. During a brief intermission, I was able to get a few more opinions on who people thought was going to win. After seeing the talents, the answers showed more variation than previously as some underdogs had pulled through. I was able to get a quote from Vice Principal, Mr. Apicella, saying that “AJ did a great job, best dancer and best talent,” and that he thought he would win. Judge Mr. Pallatto, took a more unbiased approach, saying that with his being a teacher and having some of these students, the talents were a surprise. One of the surprises was Tyson, who takes his Psychology class. Mr. Pallatto had no idea he could sing.
Coming back to the stage it was time for the formal wear portion, which was sponsored by Middletown’s Modern Formal. This was where the judges could ask the contestants any question that they thought was important. Will was asked what he would wish for and his answer was “to meet Barack Obama,” straightforward and to the point. Very different from Tyson’s being asked “KFC or Popeyes?” and “Spicy or not?” Tyson went on a monologue about his opinions on both but came to the conclusion that his truck was not very fuel efficient and would be choosing KFC, spicy. Alec was given the question of traveling 500 years into the past or 500 years into the future. He chose “500 years into the future because who wants to see the future?”
After this, it was time for the judges to deliberate while the hosts, Ella and Ana asked whatever questions they wanted. Some truly random questions were asked but nonetheless, it was fun to watch. Of the final three, who would it be? It was announced slowly. Alec. Tyson. AJ. Two seniors and one junior. A final question was asked to each, but it looked as though the winner had already been chosen in the minds of the judges. Deciding to leave the viewers on the edge of their seats, they announced Alec at third, and Tyson at second, meaning that AJ had won. Our 2023 Mr. HK, AJ Campo. A truly deserving winner who I know will use his power for good. Congratulations, AJ!
Photos by Georgia Brown