Try as the members of the Gay and Straight Alliance (GSA) might, they simply couldn’t upstage their president, Tamare Merentie, as she hosted the annual GSA Variety Show, “The Glitz and the Glamour,” on Wednesday.
Merentie, a junior, had high hopes for this year’s show because of the extra planning that went into the acts and the decoration.
“We had more time with the acts,” she said. “They were more well-developed acts.”
The show opened with Rider alum Nick Barbati and senior Matt Hanson, who were joined by GSA adviser Mike Rutkowski. Later, they closed the show with “Santa Baby.”
When Barbati tried to host the show without her, Merentie kicked him off the stage, asking, “Didn’t you graduate, Nick?”
Audience members were able to donate to acts they liked, which then determined the winner when donations were tallied.
The last two years the money raised from the Variety Show was donated to the George McGowan Scholarship Fund. McGowan was a member of GSA who passed away a year after graduation in 2005 because of complications from diabetes.
His dynamism was not lost on Barbati, who said McGowan was a “favorite member of GSA.”
“We miss him,” he said. “We miss him very, very much.”
McGowan’s mother, Pat McGowan, sat in the front row during the show and said she was pleased with it.
“I think it’s great and all the acts were tremendous,” she said. “George was really involved with GSA. He was ‘The Diva.’”
The nine acts covered everything from break dancing to singing to poetry reading. In between acts, members of GSA interrupted the show trying to grab some of the limelight.
Junior Mike Hollinshead stole the stage before the first act, appearing in a purple belly-shirt, black pants, heels and a short blond wig. He danced to Britney Spears’ “Gimme More.” Merentie quickly stopped the antics and sent Hollinshead to his job working the lights while the crowd cheered him on.
Barbati tried to take the reins; junior Josh Chave attempted to turn the show into his summer freshman orientation skit; and sophomore Thom Snell, the GSA vice-president, showed up in an ’80s prom-inspired, teal gown complete with hot pink Barbie stilettos.
One unique performance was The Rider Vibes, an a cappella group that performed previously at the GSA Variety Show, who mixed the songs “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston and “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King.
There were also two stand-up performances: one by junior Morgan McGinnity, and the other by Jamiyl Mosley, Director of Residence Life, on the stupidity of people and homophobia.
At the end of the night, freshman Rance Robeson won, raising more than $60. He passionately read his own poem, to cheers from the audience, on what his life consists of.
The final tally of the night was approximately $490 for the scholarship.
“It was hectic, but I’m glad we pulled it off,” Merentie said. “It was a lot of hard work.”