Organized it wasn’t, but that mattered little to the crowd that packed the Northeast High School auditorium Thursday night to see students, teachers and Tony Danza perform in a talent show.
Danza spent the 2009-10 school year teaching an English class at the school for his A&E reality series “Teach.” It was then that he helped the students put on an “ExtravaDanza” talent show, which he came back this year to repeat.
Students and teachers took turns performing while Danza teamed up with senior Nakiya Robley to emcee and keep the crowd entertained as the crew worked backstage to get the next performers ready with their mics.
The show began with a comedic performance from Principal Linda Carroll, who had only kind words for Danza.
“Many people thought once the show was over he would go away,” Carrol said as she handed Danza a thank-you plaque. “He’s never forgotten Northeast High School.”
Danza came back to Philadelphia for more than the show. He spent the late morning outside the School District of Philadelphia headquarters with Sen. Mike Stack, D-5th, and education advocates to discuss the importance of funding for public education.
“I’m here to tell the kids we do care and we need to help mitigate the cuts that have been made,” Danza said. “The kids have to take responsibility but we need to send the right message to them.”
Danza reminded everyone throughout the show to support Northeast by buying refreshments and contributing to the donation buckets.
But for the kids performing, the tone was lighter.
From slam poetry to hip-hop to blues, the students showed off their talents while the teachers kept pace with TV theme songs, duets and a sax solo.
And though Danza and Robley kept the crowd energized and cheered on the performers, it was the crowd who had the final say on the winners.
By round of applause, the students beat the teachers as overall winners, earning a giant trophy. Three individual performances won, as well.
Student Alex Santiago took first place for his slam poetry performance about the confusing messages men receive about treating women.
In second place were the Phreshest Kids, a trio of students who put on an impressive display of their hip-hop and break dance skills for the final student performance.
It was a close call between them and the third place winner, Voltron. The all-male teacher quintette wowed the crowed with dances to “All the Single Ladies,” Can’t Touch This,” and other hits. Students held their hands up in a V shape as the group – last year’s winner – took the stage.
The show ended with a friendly group photo as the students and teachers put their performance feud aside to pose with the coveted trophy – presented earlier in the evening by the Somerton-based Spike’s Trophies mascot. The trophy will be engraved each year for the winners, to be shared back an forth between the students and teachers.