By Rick Palsgrove
After all the high energy modern music acts, athletic dancers and smooth singers performed at the Groveport Madison High School Talent Show, ventriloquist Langston Hatch quietly strolled onto the stage armed with a puppet and a sharp sense of humor.
Hatch immediately won over the audience with rapid fire jokes voiced through Mavis, his frisky senior citizen puppet character that he operated with lifelike precision. His efforts earned him first prize at the talent show.
When asked what he thought about winning the contest as a ventriloquist, an act with its roots in the historic days of theatrical vaudeville and beyond, Hatch said, “When I saw that I was to go on stage last at the talent show I thought, well, they wanted variety, so here’s your variety act. I’ll just do what I do.”
Hatch, 15, started puppeteering 13 years ago as part of the puppet team at his church, Union Grove Baptist, and has since worked his way up to be the assistant director of the team.
“My grandmother is the head director of the team,” said Hatch. “When I was little I’d go to the shows. One day my aunt gave me a choice to sit down or work with the puppets. I saw what they were doing and I wanted to be involved.”
The church puppet shows tell Bible stories and perform Gospel music. He said the performances use humor to keep the audience involved.
Hatch said he took up ventriloquism when he was age 10.
“I was at a puppet festival and my grandfather suggested I try something different,” said Hatch. “I had never thought about being a ventriloquist, but sometimes what we want to do finds us.”
Hatch found ventriloquism gave him an outlet to explore different types of humor. He has four ventriloquist puppets he uses in his act: Scooter, a purple, winking eye alien; Ed, an elderly gentleman; a little kid character; and the above mentioned Mavis, who often bickers with Ed and banters with the audience.
“Plus, I have too many other puppets to count that I use with the puppet team,” said Hatch.
He said the voices for all his characters come naturally to him. He also writes the majority of his own material.
“It’s much easier to remember what to say when you write your own material, plus it’s easier to cover up mistakes,” laughed Hatch.
He said his performance at the high school talent show in February was his first performance away from his church setting.
“I was happy that my first performance outside of church was at my school,” he said.
He later was the opening act at Groveport Madison High School’s Play-in-a-Day performance on March 1.
Hatch enjoys being involved in the performing arts, including acting and musical theater, and recently was accepted into the Reynoldsburg Performing Arts satellite program.
“I would like to act on Broadway someday and also someday make it to Broadway as the first, big ventriloquist act there,” said Hatch. “But I also want to remember to stay humble.”