Editor’s note: Tickets for the Feb. 27, 2013, Morristown’s Got Talent! show go on sale Feb. 1 at the Mayo Performing Arts Center.
By Sydney Clarke and Megan Angulo
More than 80 acts tried out in December, with 16 dancers, singers and musicians making it to the final roster for the show at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. All have close ties to the area, living, working or studying in Morristown, Morris Plains or Morris Township.
Tickets go on sale starting Feb. 1 at the Mayo center; call 973-539-8008 or visit www.mayoarts.org.
“We are anticipating selling out the theater once again this year!” show Chairperson Fran Rossoff said.
All proceeds from the show benefit the Morris Educational Foundation, funding special projects in the Morris School District, said foundation co-chair Debbie Sontupe. Villa Enterprises and Morristown Medical Center are sponsors this year.
Acts will be judged by four panelists: Bill Stephney, former producer and managing executive at Def Jam Records and Public Enemy; John Ginty, Grammy-nominated keyboardist; Denise Marsa, singer/songwriter and owner of Key Media; and Michael Spencer Phillips, lead dancer and teaching artist with RIOULT Dance Company.
Let the competition begin…
Although it is Bellydance Revolution’s first year on the Morristown’s Got Talent stage, its members are no strangers to performing. The group, which will dance to a belly-dance hip-hop fusion routine, consists of Chloe Sibona, Kim Henry, Dana Hajedemos, Jasmine Beg, Melissa Salny and Nizette Edwards.
It’s a confident group.
“We rock,” leader and mentor Henry says. Henry is the group’s choreographer and the inspiration for many of the other members. When not practicing for the competition, the sextet can be found at Wellness On The Green, teaching and taking classes.
Julia, Nina and Caty
Julia Rangel, Nina Rangel and Caty Tsang will tackle Adele’s most recent number, “Skyfall,” from the James Bond movie of the same name. Nina Rangel is a veteran of the competition, performing last year as a solo classical pianist. She returns with her sister and her friend Tsang, who she met while studying music at Montclair State University. Nina will be on keys again, while Julia sings and Tsang provides the violin. They put their own spin on this song and, through it, hope to show that a mixture of piano, lyrics and violin can be modern. If they win, they want to spend money on further musical education.
Melanie Della Peruti
Dancer Melanie Della Peruti may be on the younger side of competitors, but her experience puts her years ahead. Dancing since she was 3, she can do everything from pointe ballet to jazz. Dance, she says, is more than a hobby: It is a passion.
For Morristown’s Got Talent!, she has chosen to do a tap number to the “Glee” version of “Proud Mary.” She cites the “fun and energetic” moves as the reason for choosing tap over her other styles.
Josh Klein & The Legends
Josh Klein is back! After competing last year, Klein is returning to the stage with a band of fresh faces. Klein says the competition is what draws him back each year, not just the prospect of winning. To him, the opportunity to perform in such a historic setting is exciting. The revamped Legends, consisting of Joe Biglin, Kyle Gagliardi and Jim Lashway, will play a rendition of “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”
While they sound like they have been playing together forever, “Our first time playing all together was the day of auditions,” Klein says.
Room 4 Three
Only one member of Room 4 Three is out of high school, but the collective already has toured the East Coast. The pop/ R & B band, which consists of Morristown High School students Jaylon Jorge, Jevon Jorge, Arminda Flores, Ryan Skoletsky and LaGuardia Community College student Angel “Shade” Pizarro, is looking forward to bringing its music and message to the audience.
This past year, the group toured from New York to Florida with FYE stores to promote a message of anti-bullying. Three years ago, some members placed second on the Morristown’s Got Talent! stage as Boys Night Out. New members include Pizarro, who the group met while performing and who says he hopes to prove he can win even though he’s not from Morristown. Room 4 Three will be performing “Crazy About You,” an original song by Jaylon Jorge.
Twelve-year-old Robie Loeser will debut on the Morristown’s Got Talent! stage after auditioning twice. The R&B-pop-soul singer will perform “Feeling Good,” originally by Nina Simone but covered by Muse.
Loeser has been singing for as long as he can remember and began voice lessons when he was 6. It was not until last year, however, that he really began to enjoy and have fun with this talent, he says. He calls himself his biggest influence and says he hopes to win and bring all of his hard work full circle.
“Looks can be deceiving,” says the Assumption School seventh-grader.
Dance Innovations is a big group with an even bigger message. In the wake of recent tragedies, the group hopes to promote “perseverance, optimism, and hope” when it performs a lyrical piece set to “Don’t Give Up” by Josh Groban, says Susan McCutcheon-Coutts.
The collective of dance teachers and former students consisting of Courtney Manze, Abigail Dearman, Tia DiPietro, Rebecca Elisa, Heather Johdos, Becky Meyer and Jennifer Tondo is led by McCutcheon-Coutts, who choreographed the piece and owns the Chatham-based studio.
While their ages and backgrounds vary, all of the women agree on their passion for dance and outreach. Money from previous performances has been put towards arts scholarships for children with special needs. If they win Morristown’s Got Talent!, the group plans to donate to art, music or dance classes for a child who lost his or her home during Hurricane Sandy.
Carlos Castellano says he feels as though 2013 is his year to shine. After trying out for Morristown’s Got Talent! two years ago, he did not feel upset about not making the cut; he used it as motivation to get better and work harder. This year, he will be singing “Home” by Michael Buble, a song Castellano said he dedicates to Morristown.
Although he was born in Honduras, Castellano says he feels as though Morristown is the place he can really call home. He also wants to send the piece out to his mom, who enjoys the song. Castellano is legally blind, and says he hopes to use Morristown’s Got Talent! as a way to honor his family for always sticking by his side. When not preparing for the show, Castellano is working on his application for the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Danielle Schussel has a quiet personality, but when she and her flute take the stage, audience members are the ones silenced. At 17, the Morristown High School junior is making her Morristown’s Got Talent! debut. A flute student since fourth grade, she will perform J. Mouquet’s “Sonata La Flute de Pan I, Pan and the Shepherds,” accompanied by Marilyn Patterson. Nancy Shearer, her long- time teacher, is a big influence and has been assisting her in mastering the piece.
Sofia, Arthur and Isabella Wawrzyniak
These three singing siblings are the littlest competitors in this year’s show, both in age and size. Sophia, 10, and her 9-year-old twin brother and sister claim that being siblings gives them an advantage since they can sing together anytime and all the time, even in the car with their mom. Their favorite type of music, and the style they will perform, is rockabilly, which they learned about from their Aunt Eileen. They chose an Imelda May song titled “Proud and Humble” because they “really like it.” When asked why they wanted to be a part of Morristown’s Got Talent! all three agreed that they simply love to sing and hope to make their family proud.
Another first-time performer, Morristown High School sophomore Jonathan Aloba danced his way into the hearts of the judges with a style he calls “popping.” It is a form of hip-hop, similar to dub-step, that he will dance to a mashup of songs.
Aloba began dancing about a year ago after he was inspired by watching people on television and the internet. He is a big proponent of self-motivation and often looks in the mirror and tells himself, “Dude, you can do this!” He says he hopes that, through his performance, people will better understand this type of dance. He tells the future audience: “My act is amazing. You should come and see it.”
If her name sounds familiar, it’s because Molly Sibona is the little sister of belly-dance competitor Chloe Sibona. Molly maintains that the sisters “are not too competitive.” (It may help that their acts are nothing alike.) The fifth-grader will be showcasing her musical skills on the piano, playing “Sonata in C Major.” She has been practicing piano for four or five years and considers her teacher a major influence. She says she hopes that Morristown’s Got Talent! will “open doors to more challenging things.” Her act is unique, she says, because the piece she selected is interesting and fast. Unlike many piano songs, which she thinks become slow and boring, Molly says she expects that this one will keep people’s attention.
Katie and The Originals
This group of amateur songwriters – Kaitlyn Gallagher, Riley Cocci, Steven Hawthorne and Jordan Green – met through the Original Music School in Morristown, where they study songwriting with Anthony Vitale.
The only seasoned performer of the group is Vitale, who is accompanying on piano. The group put this act together specifically for Morristown’s Got Talent! but, due to its success so far and the fun the members have with it, the group plans to continue afterward.
The group will perform an original song called “Heaven,” written by Gallagher about what it might be like to go to there. The members describe it as a blend of country and gospel. If spectators enjoy their act, Katie and The Originals want them to know that “anybody can come join and learn to do what we do!”
After auditioning last year and falling short, Kat Zangari came back and rocked it this year with her vocal and guitar-playing talents. She has been singing for as long as she can remember, and picked up guitar at age 13. It was not until last year, though, that she began to do both together.
Zangari will perform her original song, “Can We,” which came to fruition after her teacher suggested writing about something personal and important in an attempt to break writer’s block. Due to its happy and upbeat tempo, Zangari says, she believes that the audience will be able to relate to the song. “I just want people to see my performance and know that I am good!”
Katherine Merwin and Julia Cipriani
Vocalist Katherine Merwin and pianist Julia Cipriani first performed on the Morristown’s Got Talent! stage as eighth-graders in 2010. The girls started working together when they were in seventh grade, and have continued to progress since then. They will perform a classical piece by Roger Quilter called “Love’s Philosophy,” which they describe as “musically demanding, but fun.” Both girls take great pleasure in listening to, playing and studying classical music. The girls affirm that they “have come a long way since [their] first performance,” and they plan to make the most of the experience.
In his first Morristown’s Got Talent! appearance, this singer-songwriter, voice teacher, Morristown High School alumnus and single dad will perform an original song and play the guitar. He wrote “I Never Knew You” about his father, with whom he never had a relationship. He poured his heart into the lyrics, and “it gets very hard to keep it together towards the end of the song,” he says.
“I Never Knew You” is the top-selling song on his iTune- released CD, “October Summer.” All he wants to do, he says, is “sell music, write music and entertain.”
Sydney Clarke and Megan Angulo are seniors at Morristown High School.