Stuy Faculty Reveal Their Hidden Talents On Stage at the Faculty Talent Show

Stuyvesant faculty members showcased their talents in the SU’s Stuy Faculty’s Got Talent show.

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Stuyvesant faculty members—taking a break from their usual roles as educators—recently took to the stage to showcase their unique talents at Stuy Faculty’s Got Talent. The show took place on Friday, April 19, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. It consisted of a half-dozen performances by various teachers, ranging from musical acts to silly tricks. The show proved to be an unforgettable event, allowing teachers to display their creativity and abilities that they wouldn’t have the chance to show normally.

Before students performed SING! for the first time in 1973, Stuyvesant had hosted a faculty talent show for 13 years. The inspiration for this year’s SU faculty talent show, however, came independent from this history. “The faculty advisors for Junior SING! were [social studies teacher] Dr. [Zachary] Berman and [Director of College Counseling] Dr. [Jeaurel] Wilson, and they were joking with [physics teacher Jeffrey] Wan how in between seeing performances, they should have the faculty do a little like skit. I thought that was really cute, and that got me thinking how a faculty talent show would be super cool,” SU Events Director Malka Lubelski said. “We really want something to showcase just the talents of the teachers.”

Upon deciding on a date, the SU Events Department began surveying teachers for interest in this show. “I'm pretty sure we sent a personalized email to every single faculty member in the school,” Lubelski said.

When deciding on their acts, the performing teachers tried to consider what would entertain their audience. “If you’re going to do a talent show, you should think what students will get a kick out of. I could’ve played the entertainer by Scott Joplin—maybe they would be impressed and clap at it but they wouldn’t be talking about it ten years later,” Rubenstein said.

Senior Caucus President Zidane Karim and Sophomore Caucus Co-president Vanna Lei volunteered as MCs for the show. “Me and my members tried to create some generic intros for each act. They pulled up the night of the show, and they had like a whole script written out. They asked, ‘Can we do a Frozen song as well?’ So they played it themselves. They actually switched the song 30 minutes before the show,” Lubelski said.

Unfortunately, an act involving nearly a dozen English teachers had to be canceled last minute due to a death in one teacher’s family. “Every year prior to COVID, the English teachers used to do a little act in the library where they would all say goodbye to the seniors,” Lubelski said.

Hundreds of students attended the talent show to have fun before the start of Spring Break. “I found out about it from the weekly newsletter. I was there [that day] for the SAT, and it felt like a fun way to end off SATs and go into the break with some talented teachers,” junior Abel Bellows said.

The show consisted of six unique acts, each of which showcased creativity and artistry. “[English teacher] Dr. [Emily] Moore composed a song for ukulele about parenthetical citation and the inability of seniors to stick to them. [Woodworking teacher Leslie] Bernstein made a menagerie of sounds. Then one of the Sophomore and Senior Caucus directors were singing. [English teacher] Dr. [David] Mandler wrote a song from a poem about resisting the coming of the light, and he was a really good pianist,” Bellows said. “[music teacher] Mr. [Harold] Stephan had an [original] track, with AI visuals. And then [math teacher Gary] Rubinstein closed the show.”

The audience seemed to enjoy all of the performances. “People took out their phones [and waved them] like concert lights. I thought that was really fun. For Rubinstein, [math teacher Brian] Sterr was standing with his iPad in the band area, going around filming from all angles,” Bellows said.

For the teachers performing, the show seemed to be a massive success as well. “The teachers as a whole were all shocked at how many kids stayed, because we thought there might be like 20 kids. Because you had to wait an hour after school ended, and some [students] were just taking a test. But I can't believe how many kids were there,” Bernstein said.

Rubinstein’s performance in particular was especially popular. “There was this aspect of people cheering me on and people were really enthusiastic. I went to class the next day and anyone who was there was like, ‘Oh everyone you know you should’ve seen that, you missed it, it was very fun,’” Rubinstein said. 

The shared excitement among the whole audience was also due in part to how personally connected people felt to the performances. The event’s novelty enhanced the experience for all. “Compared to SING!, which has such a large budget, this felt very low budget. But part of what made it so cool was [that it felt like] it's just gonna happen. Like, we're all here. It's this crazy short day. We're gonna go on break. Let's just do something sort of out of the box!” Bellows said.

The show presented a great opportunity for teachers to show a different side of themselves. Rubinstein performed a stunning musical rendition of the song, “Vampire,” by Olivia Rodrigo. “Since I’m a teacher and I'm a pretty straight-laced guy, it seemed like, oh, it’s a good opportunity to make a fool of yourself in a fun way, in the spirit of the school’s fun,” Rubinstein said. “I doubt there would ever be a song as perfect as [Vampire], with curse words and just the whole tone of the song. It’s just so opposite of what anyone expected me to do, so I don’t know if there’ll ever be a song as good as that to do but I’ll try to do something as good next year.”

For Bernstein as well, the show provided an opportunity to show off fun talents that she would otherwise never get the chance to perform. “I have a lot of what I call stupid talents—just silly talents that don't really get you anywhere in life. Yeah, they're just silly and funny. Sometimes I’ll quack like a duck in class to get everyone's attention, and I’ve beatboxed [with my mouth closed] on stage before. Once the act with the English teachers was canceled, I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I'll do my stupid human tricks,’” Bernstein said.

As nervous as some teachers were for the experience, the great audience reception boosted their confidence. “I have stage fright, so I always think I'm gonna hear crickets or something. But luckily, as soon as I said I'm gonna quack like a duck, I saw some faces light up, and that made me feel at ease immediately,” Bernstein said.

The success of the talent show this year has proven just how successful a faculty talent show at Stuyvesant could be. Following this success, the SU seeks to make the Faculty Talent Show a yearly event again. It would be sometime in the spring, between SING! and SOS. “Our vision for it was that we wanted someone in the light booth, doing cool light effects,” Lubelksi said.

The teachers who performed hope that this success will convince more teachers to perform next year. “I think this was a really good first trial. I think a lot of the teachers this year [upon being asked to perform at the show] went, ‘What is this?’” Bernstein said. “Lots of teachers have lots of talents—you would have no idea.”

With Stuy’s wide range of faculty members, there’s nearly limitless potential for the acts that could be performed at a faculty talent show. It can be almost tempting to wonder who else could have performed at the show this year. “I wanted each department to have an act. I thought that would have been fun. Or maybe, maybe next year will be the year of [Assistant Principal of Safety and Security Brian] Moran,” Bellows said.