Their winning song was called Feeling Good, but lead singer Sara Dalpe was feeling just the opposite when Band of Misfits took the stage Wednesday at Morristown’s Got Talent!
For the last month, the Morristown High School senior has been bed-ridden with mono.
But the show was billed as The Hollywood Edition, and Sara delivered a Hollywood ending, digging deep for a sultry performance of Nina Simone’s jazzy 1965 song with fellow Misfits Valerie Bai on violin and Jordan Rabinowitz on standup bass.
The judges gave the MHS trio the $1,000 top prize, besting 15 other acts before a huge, enthusiastic crowd in year seven of the charity competition.
“We should have called the song Feeling Great,” said Sara, who appeared cured, at least temporarily, by the biggest cardboard check see’s ever seen. She giddily described herself as a “walking coma” who struggled to sing past her illness-imposed 8 o’clock bedtime.
“The show must go on! She’s a pro already,” gushed emcee Tara Bernie of NBC’s Access Hollywood when told after the show about Sara’s condition.
Terrie Carr, music director at WDHA-FM and a judge at the show, said she was “blown away” to hear young talent infusing an old-school tune with new life.
The $500 second prize went to the Marimba Four–teens Stephen Ferm, Emily Carvalho, Reed Puleo and Neil McNulty–for a mesmerizing performance of Ford’s Stubernic and Afta-Stuba that blended flying mallets with clever choreography.
“That was outside of the box,” said panelist Alyssa Derling of Derling Dance Arts. Fellow judge Jay Lustig, arts and entertainment editor for The Star-Ledger, said he’s never seen anything quite like the Marimba Four. “They moved around, they put a lot of personality into it. They nailed it totally.”
Rounding out the winner’s circle was the duo of Joe Van Loon and Chris Del Sordi. They took the $250 third prize for a self-assured rendition of the jazz standard Autumn Leaves.
The 20-year-olds are on breaks from music conservatories; you can find vocalist Joe working at Olive Lucy’s in Morristown and guitarist Chris at UPS in Parsippany. Chris taught himself to play on a guitar he won at a boardwalk on the Shore.
“They have star potential,” noted panelist Anthony Krizan, former guitarist for The Spin Doctors, who said he was eager to produce them in his studio. “They could probably develop into something really hip.”
“They’re cute, they have charisma, they have that suave thing, and a little bit of swagger,” Terrie Carr added.
Virtually all 1,300 seats in the Mayo Center’s Community Theatre were sold on Wednesday. MGT Chairperson Kim Pistner said she was confident that proceeds will top the $50,000 raised last year for programs in the Morris School District. About 15 volunteers pulled the show together for the Morris Educational Foundation, said Molly Servais, the foundation chair.
More than 70 acts auditioned for 16 slots in the contest, which was open to amateur entertainers who live, work or study in Morristown, Morris Township or Morris Plains.
The program included a 12-year-old rhythmic dancer and an 84-year-old singer in a barbershop ensemble. There was an Indian American dancer, too, and a cute sister act, and a quartet that really was a quintet if you count the wooden horse that helped it gallop through the William Tell Overture. The owner of Anthony’s Pizza cooked up a pretty spicy pop trio.
A Hollywood theme included red carpet interviews by Morristown’s Tara Bernie, who shimmered in a gown she wore to cover the Oscars. She brought a crackerjack production team that edited her lobby interviews into a video shown between acts.
Morris District Superintendent Thomas Ficarra said he knows no other place that can pull off such a big event every year. “I always go home walking on the clouds,” he said. “My superintendent friends are jealous.”
The evening’s lead sponsor was Mill Creek Residential, which is building a 268-apartment complex near Speedwell Avenue.
“The schools are the backbone of the community,” said Rich Murphy of Mill Creek. “When we were approached by the Foundation, we were all in. It’s a great cause run by great people.”
‘DON’T FREAK OUT’
As for that Band of Misfits, Jordan and Valerie said they never would have performed without their “lead misfit,” Sara.
The seniors, who started their band at a Morristown High School coffeehouse, thanked orchestra teacher Norma Davis and dedicated their winning performance to pals from WJSV, the school radio station.
The second time proved the charm for Sara, a regular in MHS musicals who failed to make the cut for Morristown’s Got Talent last year. She plans to use this year’s winnings to repay her parents for her prom dress.
What is the Misfits’ advice for future musical misfits who want to try out?
“Enjoy it every second,” said Jordan.
“Savor every moment,” Valerie advised.
“Don’t freak out. It’s awesome,” said Sara, who planned to celebrate on Thursday by … sleeping.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the show!
Behind the scenes at MGT 2014. Please click icon below for captions.