By Megan LaCreta, Arts & Entertainment Editor
On Thursday night, the classic chords of Bill Withers’ “Just the Two of Us,” rang out onto West 238th Street, marking the start of the Manhattan College Players’ first Open Mic Night at An Beal Bocht Cafe.
Luis Chavez, a junior sound studies major with minors in theater and music, and development director for the Players, performed the song on piano to open the show, before taking up the role as MC for the night.
Chavez had reached out to An Beal Bocht on behalf of Players to organize the event. The Players board came up with the idea together, inspired by the monthly on-campus Coffee House events. Chavez explained how the Players’ Open Mic Night differs, beyond just the location.
“The thing about this is that it’s a Players [event],” said Chavez, “So we get the chance to do monologues from the actual Players community … Some people sang musical theater things, so it’s really a wider variety show.”
The show certainly delivered on its promise of variety. Students performed to an enthusiastic and packed crowd, with acts ranging from Amy Winehouse songs to comedic monologues to an off-the-cuff rendition of “Shallows” from “A Star is Born.”
One performance that won the approval of the crowd was from senior Veronica Vitollo, a business analytics major with a minor in music. Vitollo hadn’t performed in three years, since her freshman year cabaret show at MC.
“I took a break because COVID happened, and then I was just nervous,” said Vitollo. “And so when I saw that [Open Mic Night] was going on, I got an email about it and I was like, it’s my chance… This really gave me an opportunity to feel like myself again singing.”
Vitollo performed two songs on the ukulele, “La Vie en Rose” and an original piece titled “It’s Not My Business to be Studying Business,” which she wrote while taking online classes during the pandemic.
Vitollo described what it felt like to sing her own original music in front of a crowd.
“I sang it in front of my mom on FaceTime right before coming because I was like, is this weird? Like, are people gonna think I’m crazy?” said Vitollo. “But it felt so natural, and I feel like that song brought me the confidence to sing in front of people because there was a lot that connected me to it.”
Vitollo’s performance was definitely one of the highlights of the night, garnering roaring applause from the crowd, something Vitollo was particularly touched by.
“I understand with a lot of performers, sometimes there’s no one that they know showing up, and some people just ignore them if they’re at a local coffee shop. Like they don’t get applause like that. So I feel so grateful to even have that and be able to share my own music with everyone,” Vitollo said.
Katie Martone, a junior childhood education major who came to the event to watch a friend perform, echoed Vitollo’s sentiment, noting the positive atmosphere during the night.
“A highlight was the energy in the room and seeing so many people I knew,” said Martone. “I would definitely go again, it was a super welcoming and fun environment.”
The Players board is hoping to host more Open Mic Nights at An Beal in the future, and is also hoping that the event’s success will open doors for more community-engaged events down the road.
Students should be on the lookout for more information on the next Open Mic Night, to be sure they don’t miss out on a night to remember.
In Chavez’s words, “It’s a big, rowdy night that you won’t forget.”