The self-expression offered by FHC’s Random Acts of Talent affects not only the audience but the performers too


Whether it be sitting in the audience for FHC’s production of The Crucible, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat or Improv Central, you’ve likely seen senior Pranav Nalam on stage. Acting, singing, improvising—Pranav has done it all, always alongside his peers in FHC Theatre.

For Random Acts of Talent, however, Pranav will be alone on stage accompanied only by his guitar: a stark difference to his past performances. 

Freshman Marissa Lunt, on the other hand, is used to singing alone; what makes her act different, though, is that she’ll be singing with sophomore Thomas Cobb as an accompanist.

R.A.T. provides the risk of getting on stage and allowing each participant to be seen by their peers in a completely different light; Marissa, Pranav, and every performer that will be showcasing their talents on January 18 all chose to take that risk. Before they took that risk, though, each performer had to make it through the audition phase, and each story behind their audition is as different as their acts. 

“One thing people don’t know is that during the tryouts or practice, you’ll meet a lot of new people and get a sense of what their personality is based on what they do,” Marissa said. “I chose to audition to show my talent.”

While Pranav’s passion for singing influenced his choice to audition, a personal ultimatum also played into his decision to try out.

“[I chose to audition for R.A.T. because] it is my final year and if not now, then never,” Pranav said.

Senior Sarah Buchanan was also at the auditions but as Student Director. Instead of showcasing a talent, she acted as a prefatory audience member, judging each act before it hit the stage. 

Sarah’s involvement in the audition process is very similar to those of other FHC Theatre productions, but where her duties deviate from the norm is after the auditions.

“Compared to plays and musicals,” Sarah said, “R.A.T. is a lot more laid-back. For other shows, I do work at every rehearsal, each day after school for many weeks, but for R.A.T., most of the rehearsals take place for each act on their own time, so it’s not nearly as intense.”

Being responsible for the majority of their own rehearsals is just another aspect of R.A.T. that challenges each performer. For many, self-directing is an entirely foreign enterprise, which is why R.A.T. offers such an amazing opportunity for growth in on-stage presence just as well as off-stage. 

Despite there being group rehearsals and run-throughs as the R.A.T. performance night nears, the countless hours of independent practice each performer puts in provides them with a learning experience that indelibly impacts their future careers in the arts.

“R.A.T. has made me aware of just how much work [it] takes for a musician to be able to perform a three-minute song in front of people,” Pranav said. “Trust me, it’s a lot.”

The most dynamic effect of participation in R.A.T., however, comes on stage. With the spotlight centered and spectators silent, the ‘talent’ in R.A.T. becomes real, and it becomes clearer why this production is the favorite of many community members throughout Forest Hills. 

Sarah, like many others, is so fond of R.A.T. because of the diversity of the acts.

“I am most excited to hear how the audience reacts to each act,” Sarah said. “[Each act is] so special, and I am so excited for the school to be able to see that and what each person brings to the show. I am [also] very excited to hear the cheers from the audience as they see all of the talents.”

The performers are excited for different reasons.

“[I’m most excited for] the rush when I get on stage and start singing,” Pranav said. “When I get on stage, all of the emotions just rush out, and there’s a tingling in your stomach. Some people call them nerves, but I think they are a good sign that you are prepared. That’s what I’m excited [about].”

Marissa, though, is more excited for the aftershock that hits after the performance itself has finished.

“I think what I’m most excited about is what people will think [of my performance],” Marissa said. “Their reaction excites me because if they are positive about my performance or not I can learn and improve for the next time.”

No matter their feelings prior to the performance, each performer will take away priceless experience worth all the time and effort dedicated to each performance.

Marissa has already gotten a taste of what this experience entails. 

“R.A.T. has changed my confidence by giving me the courage to show everyone what I can do,” Marissa said.

With performances ranging from dancing, singing, skits, and everything in between, R.A.T. will be an unforgettable night worth attending. 

No matter if you’re on stage, behind the scenes, or in the audience, Friday night’s performance will leave you in awe of the brilliance and virtuosity inside the hallways of FHC.

“The most special part [of R.A.T.] is to help people showcase what they can do,” Sarah said. “I love being a part of helping students have their dreams come alive on stage and show the school what they can do.”