On stage at Carnegie Hall

Seven Penn student performing arts groups were featured at the ‘Toast to Dear Old Penn’ showcase in New York City.

four students dancing on a stage
Seven Penn student performing arts groups took the stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City for the Toast to Dear Old Penn showcase on Dec. 10. The event featured Dischord and Penn Yo acapella, Onda Latina (above) and Penn Dhamaka dance, Bloomers and Mask and Wig comedy troupes, and the spoken-word Excelano Project. 

Seven Penn student performing arts groups took the stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City before a near-sellout crowd in the third-annual “Toast to Dear Old Penn” showcase.

The Dec. 10 evening event featured more than 100 students in Dischord and Penn Yo a capella, Onda Latina and Penn Dhamaka dance, Bloomers and Mask and Wig comedy troupes, and the spoken-word Excelano Project. They performed for more than two hours before an audience of about 400 Penn alumni, students, and staff, along with family and friends.

“The vibe was extremely positive and spirits were high. The atmosphere had a tangible electricity to it created by the enthusiasm of the audience and the performers,” says Laurie McCall, director of Penn’s Platt Student Performing Arts House. “Everyone seemed to enjoy the show and being together at a Penn event.”

Co-sponsor Penn Live Arts made possible a virtual livestream that was recorded and is now available for viewing.

fifteen students singing on a stage
The Dischord A Capella singers.

There were strict COVID-19 protocols, and no receptions or parties. “It was just the performance,” McCall says.

The performers were required to submit vaccination cards, have a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior, and wear masks except when on stage. Audience members had to show vaccination cards with identification and wear masks.

“We had to coordinate with the students to make sure we met Carnegie Hall’s requirements to get all PCR COVID tests and vaccination cards submitted at the correct time,” McCall says. “Thankfully, Penn is set up to manage COVID protocols effectively.”

eight students on stage
The Bloomers comedy troupe.

There were several other new aspects to the event this year. The student performers introduced each other, instead of having an alumni emcee. Five of the groups were in the event for the first time, with the two comedy troupes the repeat performers.

It was also the first time spoken-word performances were included. “The poets from the Excelano Project really made their mark,” says McCall. “We didn’t know how spoken word would blend with the other performances, but the poets were brilliant and impactful.”

student speaking on stage
First-year student Laura Eugene, Exelano Project spoken word artist.

And 27 students won a lottery for free tickets, riding up to New York in the buses with the performers.

“People seemed to be extremely happy to be at this live event in New York City,” McCall says. “The students displayed their passion and talent on the stage and the audience responded with admiration and long and loud applause.”

student speaking on stage
First-year student Deborah Olantunji, Excelano Project spoken word artist.
seven students dancing on a stage
The Penn Dhamaka dance troupe.
several students on stage singing
The Penn Yo a capella singers.
three students sitting at a table and two standing nearby on a stage
The Mask and Wig comedy troupe.
several students on stage singing with many people in the audience
For the finale the performing arts students led the audience in singing “The Red and Blue.”

To view a recording of the event and the program listing the names of the performers, visit the Penn Live Arts website.