C is For Coffeehouse: A Phonetic Look Into a Providence Tradition

Most people at PA have heard of the famous (or infamous) Coffeehouse. It’s a great time to come together as a community and watch an amazing repertoire of talent handpicked by the arts department. To outsiders, however, Coffeehouse seems like a confusing concept. What’s the point? There isn’t even coffee here. This handy guide will take you step by step, or rather, A through Z of the amazing world of Coffeehouse.

A is for artwork– Besides the lovely performers on the stage, coffeehouse also featured artwork created by the art classes. The artwork featured included pieces with three dimensional elements.

B is for band names This spring’s Coffeehouse featured two different student formed bands that had very interesting names to them. There was the rock band To Floss the Tooth of Poseidon and also the band W and the Flip Flops. What were the reasons behind these names? Anton Taylor (’18), the guitarist for To Floss the Tooth of Poseidon said, “We wanted to perform under the edgiest name we could think of, and when we were signing up, Shane[the band’s bassist, ’20] suggested it, and we thought it was the funniest thing ever. It’s edgy, ironic, and humorous, and I think that’s the kind of band we wanted to be.”

From L to R: Shane Flanigan, Anton Taylor, and William Hemler jam out with special guest Mr. Plucinski on their rendition of “Say it Ain’t So”

C is for concessions The concessions at Coffeehouse don’t really vary from year to year as much as the performers. The lineup usually consists of candy, soda, water, and juice boxes. However, this coffeehouse introduced a new treat to the lineup: root beer floats. They were a big hit. “They even put us out of business!” Val Fish (’21) exclaimed from the nearby concession stand. The funds for the root beer floats went to PAPA.

D is for duets Solos are popular, but duets are also a good way to express talent and enjoy some time with a friend or sibling. Onstage duets included the Monette sisters, Mae (‘21) and Kiara (18); and Cort Dingman (20) and Charlise Pedregosa (’20); and Claire Christianson(’18) and Aidan(’18, but not at PA). Duets don’t only happen onstage, however. Siblings Val (’21) and Nate Fish  (‘23 ) contributed their time and talents to running the concession stand.

Kiara and Mae Monette share a heartfelt duet


E is for environment Unlike most events held at PA, the coffeehouse has a more casual environment that allows for students to unwind a little and relax the rules of student life. “You can talk to people without getting yelled at or kicked out, and you can also just enjoy the entertainment,” Andrew McGurl (‘20) commented.

F is for Friday the 13th One interesting aspect of this Coffeehouse was that it happened on Friday the Thirteenth, allegedly a day of bad luck. This may have been true; however, nothing too unfortunate or unlucky happened at the Coffeehouse.

G is for guitar This is the most common instrument used at Coffeehouse and is used for a variety of genres of music. The guitar is a favorite that always has the crowd captivated. The most notable among the guitarists was Emma Arndt’s (‘18) solo of “You Belong to Me”.

H is for history Coffeehouse isn’t just an event that happens at Providence, though. Coffeehouses originally started in actual coffeehouses and were small social events that featured a limited menu which mainly featured coffee and an assortment of pastries. The entertainment at coffeehouse included music, stand-up comedy, and poetry reading, but would also be used as a time to raise awareness of social issues such as political oppression, food and freshwater shortages, and outbreaks of disease in some countries.  

I is for inspiration– Although the Coffeehouse is meant to showcase the great amount of talent in the upper school, it can also bring moments of inspiration. It sparks the imagination and inspires future generations of guitarists, pianists, vocalists, and jazz musicians to keep perfecting their craft with the hope of someday being able to perform for their peers under the heat of the lights in the Great Room. 

J is for jazz band The jazz band is always the opener for the Coffeehouse. They get the event kicked off and set the mood for the evening. They also sometimes feature vocalists, like this year’s Isabella Igbanugo (‘19) joining the band for the popular big band tune “Sway”.

Isabella Ibanugo joins the PA jazz band for the popular swing tune “Sway”

K is for keyboard– One of the other popular instruments that was featured at the Coffeehouse was the keyboard. A distant relative to the piano, the keyboard is used for a wide variety of music from jazz to even rock. Two keyboardists from the recent coffeehouse included Steven Fogle (’20) with the jazz band, and Mr. Plucinski, who joined the rock band To Floss the Tooth of Poseidon.

L is for lights– One of the interesting things about the environment of the Coffeehouse was the use of lights that changed color with the moods of the songs. This special effect added an entire new dimension to the performances and made them come alive with a bright array of cobalt, emerald, magenta, and scarlet.

M is for memories– Although the popular song from the musical Cats was not performed, several memories were still made at Coffeehouse. It was an enjoyable evening with plenty of time to spend catching up with friends and family while coming out to appreciate the talent that thrives in the upper school.

N is for Netter Every year, a Net team member MC’s the Coffeehouse. A mix of clean humor and snappy introductions makes for a memorable introduction from our visiting friends. The netter that MC’d the Coffeehouse this time around was Kaylee Robbins, who along with introducing the acts, recited a spoonerism version of the popular fairy tale Cinderella.

O is for original composition Coffeehouse usually is comprised of various covers of songs, but at this Coffeehouse, there was a pleasant surprise. Gianna Bruno (‘19) debuted a piano and vocal composition that she had written entirely by herself, “Never Again”.

P is for popular- Even though is was a snowy Friday night, the spring Coffeehouse still had a massive turnout of students, faculty, and families alike. It seemed as if everyone wanted to come see this exciting event. The estimated turnout was about 232 people, and it was referred to as perhaps the greatest turnout that the school has had for this event.

From L to R: Jack Kruse, William Hemler, and Evelyn Hemler sing their version of “Accidentally in Love” from the soundtrack of Shrek 2

Q is for quirky While there are a standard set of acts that almost always make an appearance at Coffeehouse, there was one that stood out from all of the others. Evelyn Hemler (‘21), William Hemler (‘18), and Jack Kruse (‘19) did their rendition of “Accidentally in Love” from the soundtrack of Shrek 2 with various instruments and vocals.

R is for rock band One of the more traditional acts of Coffeehouse is the presence of a rock band. This year’s band included Anton Taylor, William Hemler (percussion), Shane Flanigan, and a special guest appearance on keyboard for their rendition of “Say it Ain’t So”.

Mr. Plucinski plays the keyboard along with the rock band To Floss the Tooth of Poseidon.
Mr. Santer and his Art III/Honors class took the stage for their rendition of “I Met a Bear”.


S is for snow storm– Although the mood inside the Coffeehouse was bright and electric, the outside world didn’t seem to agree. As everyone was leaving that night, another snow storm hit the area, and made it rather hard for students to get home.

T is for teachers Usually, there’s only one teacher directly involved with Coffeehouse, and that’s Mr. Jones, the jazz band director. This coffeehouse, however, Mr. Plucinski and Mr. Santer also took to the stage. Mr. Plucinski was featured on the keyboard for “Say it Ain’t So”, and Mr. Santer was featured with the Art III/ honors class for the classic guitar song “I Met a Bear”.

U is for ukulele Along with the guitar and the piano, the ukulele is another favorite at the Coffeehouse. Its tropical sound and its charming size make it just the right instrument to practice anywhere and cover a wide variety of musical genres. Featured this coffeehouse on ukulele were Mae and Kiara Monette and a group act of Isabella Igbanugo , Maddy Young (‘20), Maddie Austin (‘18), and Essie Broich (‘18).

Emma Arndt sings her heart out with one more guitar solo before graduating and leaving the coffeehouse set

V is for veterans Although there were several new acts at the Coffeehouse this season, there are also the ever so dependable veterans of the show who have been loyally participating in Coffeehouses as long as they can. Two of the graduating veterans are Kiara Monette and Emma Arndt, who have done Coffeehouse through their upper school years. Kiara frequently appeared with her younger sister Mae, and Emma was often seen with her brother Ben (alumni of ’16). 

W is for water– Although the concession stand offered Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite, the most popular drink of the evening at the concession stand was definitely the bottled water, which was the most popular selling concession overall. Water offered a refreshment from the root beer floats that were being sold by PAPA, but it also refreshed the singers and was easier on their voices than the soda.  

X is for X marks the spot– If you’re wondering where you can find the treasure that is the amazing talent of the upper school, check out the arts channel on You Tube.

Y is for yearbook– Besides the PAW, the yearbook also features an article on not one, but both Coffeehouses, so that you can catch up on and enjoy both Coffeehouses and all of the performers that are thus entailed.

Z is for zero– Which was the charge for admission. It was completely and indubitably free! We can’t wait to see you there next year!