Monty’s: Behind the scenes

By Somy Madeoy

Staff Writer

The Monty’s, a talent show, held for the last 15 years, has morphed into the big spring event. Previously, students would go off-campus to Los Angeles, or the event would be held in the MacArthur center. Since the event has long been in circulation, the team has aimed to express their creativity in a new way, proposing a new idea, with a lot to live up to this year.

“Last year was awesome. We have high expectations for this year because of the dancing and the way they had the stage set up,” said Victoria Sarandis, TMU sophomore.

Jonny Ardavanis, dean of campus life, and Steven Inabnit, director of events and production on campus, primarily made the decisions for this year’s show after student life came up with how the event should go, a task they manage each year. At the end of last year, the team came to Inabnit, and he loved their idea of giving this year an “America’s got talent” theme.

Ardavanis and Inabnit judged the show, and were challenged to choose among many wonderful acts. With two full days of auditions, tons of people showed up to showcase their talents and engage in something they’re passionate about. Those who auditioned but didn’t make it to the finals received a free Monty’s ticket. Having many choices made for a great show regardless.

This year featured nine acts, involving 20 people in total, a few ensembles, several vocalists/musicians, a yo-yo mix performance act, a few singer songwriters and a satire performance from Eva Craw, TMU sophomore, that poked fun at the “ring by spring” mentality, in the form of a musical medley.

In the first few years of Monty’s, students would bring a date. However in recent years, the creative team has tried to reframe the event as something more than date-only. Some TMU students enjoy the ‘take a date’ atmosphere, and others look forward to dressing up, seeing the show and hanging out with their friends.

“Monty’s is the perfect time to go big,” said freshman, Ruth Saake. 

The Monty’s house band and production team played a large role in bringing the event to life, with M.C’s Ardavanis and Mason Medina, member of TMU campus life, interacting with judges Brianna Harris, dean of women, Todd Kostjuk, TMU’s chief financial officer, and business professor, Mike Nesheim.

Ardavanis enjoyed the wide range of different talent in his second season of the Monty’s, as well as collaborating with judges and co-host Medina. The mix between silly, serious and creativity, coupled with the production added to the effect of the night. As a host, he kept the judges on their toes, a fun, interactive take from previous years.

Lauren Ardavanis and Ryan Miller, other members of campus life, played a large role in the event’s idea and the content behind the scenes which contributed to the events originality this spring. Where Miller focuses more on the production side, Lauren said the idea for this year’s theme was born from a red-carpet, which kept tradition alive in a new way, with the help of Tate Kiledjian as the photographer.

“Steven did a lot of work, along with the campus life and the production team made it really fun and possible,” Lauren Ardavanis said.

Inabnit, Jonny Ardavanis, and the campus life team landed on this years’ concept and wanted students to know the artists through video, and drawing them back for the grand finale, or final taping.

“Over the course of production there are probably 50 or 60 people, the entire production staff, an enormous amount of people and a huge team,” Inabnit said.

As those behind the scenes aimed to weave together this tapestry, it was the talent chosen this year that made that possible. Acts would include a mixture of talent and creativity, which further satisfied the event’s theme. 

“It’s a parody of the dating culture around TMU,” said Craw, a junior.

Artists like Craw and Matt Brecheen, a six-year-in-training yo-yo star, led a group of about 14 people in a spiderman production with the cast and crew integrating gymnastics with the yo-yo as the infamous ‘spider web.’

Brecheen’s act took home the trophy, and the three spider men (played by himself, Tage Harrington, and Darby Culver) were the perfect trio. When Craw opened the inter-dimensional portal, they played Tom-Holland, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire, to recreate a part of movie magic on stage.

Monty’s, while new in many ways in 2022, remains familiar in its goal of giving students an event around which to come together.

“The whole point of Monty’s is to celebrate our campus community and the incredible talent people have,” Inabnit said. “There are so many students on campus, whether a biology or music major… and it’s always fun to highlight our campus community in a context that we’re not usually in.”

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