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High School Students Play for a Packed House

Tolland Youth Services "Coffee House" Showcases Emerging Talent

The third season of Tolland Youth Services’ Coffee House season is off to a great start, as evidenced by the large turnout at Saturday night’s show at . Twenty-seven songs, performed by nearly 30 high school students, entertained a crowd of over 325 people.

Nancy Dunn, the Youth Services coordinator and Tolland Youth Services Community Theater director, said she is pleased with the success of the program and the enthusiasm of the Tolland community. A large number of teenagers try out for the Coffee House, from freshmen to seniors, and there is room for them all. “We cut songs, not people,” Dunn noted of the array of talented young artists who participate.

With the help of others, such as Cathy Beckius and Gina Zahner, Dunn said they’ve been able to offer kids a unique stage experience.

“I love it because it’s a different venue, but not necessarily in choir or band, and it gives kids something to do on a Saturday night – even parents and grandparents,” said Dunn.

Tolland High students, Daphne and Brittany, sat in the front row during the February 11th show. They came to the Coffee House, their first one, to see friend Matt Beckius perform.

“The show is amazing. Matt is amazing,” they said.

Beckius performed with Alex Noonan, a junior.

“I’ve been singing my whole life, since I was a kid,” said Noonan. “I prefer acoustic, like John Mayer.”

The pair performed the last song before intermission, doing an impressive version of Gavin Degraw’s I Don’t Wanna Be. The second half of the show opened with Taking This Oasis, a popular local acoustic rock band featuring , Hugh Jeffries, David Fiddler and Kevin Maki (Maki did not perform that evening.)

“Kelsey is a senior this year and was accepted into the Berklee College of music,” noted Gina Zahner.

Acts typically consist of vocal, acoustic guitar and keyboard performances of current music and original compositions. The $5 admission price includes coffee and beverages and a variety of baked goods donated by the performers.

Coffee House performances take place quarterly, in February, May and November and at the Celebrate Tolland Festival in the summer. For information about upcoming Coffee Houses, visit TYSCT on Facebook.  

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