Singing, clapping and tapping feet filled the Student Center Tally as two piano players from Midwest Dueling Pianos gave a free, request-driven performance.
Opening with “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, pianists Adam Nelson and Rusty Northrop took turns reading through song requests during their performance to continue playing music without large pauses in the action.
By the end of the three hour show, the song request sheets Nelson had put out at the show's beginning were all filled out.
“You might write it down and think, “They’re going to laugh when they see this,’ but nope — it’s my jam,” Northrop said as he introduced the requested song, “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton.
Sophomore Carrington Neil was one student who joined in requesting songs with “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo.
“I like how [Nelson and Northrop] are basically just messing around until the other starts playing,” Neil said.
Other requested songs Nelson and Northrop performed included “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra, “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, “Dancing Queen” by ABBA and “Kiss the Girl” and “Part of Your World” from the movie, “The Little Mermaid.”
The audience’s singing and clapping along became the loudest as Northrop and Nelson played “All Star” by Smash Mouth and the theme songs to television shows “Friends” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
“90s stuff is big right now,” Northrop said.
Junior Katrina Fulmer, president of the University Program Board, said the organization invited Midwest Dueling Pianos to Ball State because of how well the duo interacts with audience members.
“[Midwest Dueling Pianos is] a pretty good comedy act, and they engage with the students,” Fulmer said. “[UPB] likes to book acts that are engaging.”
Nelson and Northrop not only played requested songs but they also created medleys of songs that shared chords. While performing “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John, Nelson created parody versions called “New Orleans Beignet” and “Forrest Gump Jenny.”
“I feel humbled every time I play with [Northrop] because he can play circles around me,” Nelson said.
To close their performance, Nelson and Northrop played Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” accompanied by a lively audience singing along.