Talent show for seniors

Math teacher will play acoustic guitar with 40 students in 30 acts to raise funds for graduation night. The show is Saturday.

January 15, 2010|By Ashley Breeding

Laguna Beach High School’s talented musicians will help raise money for a safe and sober graduation night.

The 22nd annual “No Suits Allowed” music talent show will take place 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Artists’ Theater. All of the proceeds will benefit the senior class.

Directed by math teacher and acoustic guitarist Gary Shapiro, the evening will showcase 40 students in 30 acts, in all of which Shapiro plays guitar.


“Some students will share their own music that they’ve written, but we’ll play mostly cover songs with our own spin on them,” Shapiro said. “It’s mostly acoustic guitar, but we’ve got a mandolin, banjo and piano this year, too.”

The eclectic set list includes Jazon Mraz’ “I’m Yours,” Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” the Dixie Chicks’ “Travelin’ Soldier” and a bluegrass rendition of “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad,” a song originally written by Henry Whitter that eventually became popular through The Grateful Dead.

“We’ve got a lot of great combinations,” Shapiro said. “There’s a lot of student talent; it’s amazing how good these kids are.”

“No Suits Allowed” — a title Shapiro came up with after he was rejected from a country club for not donning a jacket and tie — was inspired by two students from the class of ’89.

“They wanted to raise money for the senior class and thought putting me on stage with my guitar would be successful way of doing that,” he said. “It was just me the first year, and we raised $500.

“I thought it would be a one-time deal, but the next graduating class suggested that we do it again, and each year more kids got involved and it eventually grew into what it is today.”

Shapiro, who’s taught math at Laguna Beach High for 28 years, said his passion for music arose in the early ’60s, about the same time the Beatles landed in the U.S.

“I was nothing like these kids when I was in high school, though,” he said. “I never even thought of entertaining until I got to college.”

After years of playing in coffeehouses and local jam bands, Shapiro said he finds music to be an interesting outlet on the side of teaching.

“We’re fortunate to have a real theater at the school,” he said. “I get a real kick out of playing with these kids, and they love it, too.”

Senior Andrew Levin, who will be part of a “Walking on Sunshine” trio and will also perform his own song, “Like a Radio,” said he’s looking forward to sharing his own music.

“It’ll be fun a opportunity to play some stuff that I wrote,” he said. “It’s my first year [on stage] but I’ve been to the show in the past and it’s always a really good time.”

Tickets are $15 adults, $10 for students, and can be purchased at the ticket window after 4 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, call Pam Levin at (949) 887-9808.

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