Morristown ‘Hollywood Edition’ talent show raises record $70K for schools


Hollywood is all about setting box-office records, and the “Hollywood Edition” of Morristown’s Got Talent!  has set one.

Last month’s competition, hosted by Tara Bernie of NBC’s Access Hollywood at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, raised more than $70,000 for educational programs in the Morris School District, eclipsing last year’s mark of $50,000, Molly Servais, chairwoman of the Morris Educational Foundation, announced on Monday.

AND THE WINNER IS..BAND OF MISFITS! From left, Jordan Rabinowitz, emcee Tara Bernie, Valerie Bai and Sara Dalpe. Photo by Berit Ollestad

AND THE WINNER IS..BAND OF MISFITS! From left, Jordan Rabinowitz, emcee Tara Bernie, Valerie Bai and Sara Dalpe, winners of the 2014 Morristown’s Got Talent! contest. Photo by Berit Ollestad

She also named three members of a new professional staff at the nonprofit MEF, and announced Morristown High School graduate Shannon Kikuchi as the first winner of the foundation’s $8,000 Stephen B. Wiley Scholarship.  Additionally, a series of “Toasts to Teachers” will debut from May 27 through June 14, 2014.

The talent show, which celebrated its seventh year on Feb. 26, is open to anyone who lives, works or studies in Morristown, Morris Township or Morris Plains, and to alumni of Morristown High School.  Sixteen finalists were chosen from more than 70 acts, and the $1,000 top prize went to a jazz trio of Morristown High seniors called Band of Misfits:

Proceeds come from corporate sponsorships, ticket sales and program ads.

Molly Servais and Debbie Sontupe of the Morris Educational Foundation and Glenn Redbord, friend of the late George and Shirley Ecklund. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Molly Servais, left, and Debbie Sontupe of the Morris Educational Foundation, with Glenn Redbord, at event in 2013. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Former MEF Chairwoman Debbie Sontupe has been named the first executive director of the organization. She has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and fundraising experience.

Her professional team will include Ellen Hays, as Director of Marketing and Events. She began volunteering with the MEF 18 months ago, and brings more than two decades of experience in agency branding, marketing and advertising, according to the MEF.

Chrissie Wetherbee will serve as Coordinator. The Morristown High alumna  has worked at the Hunterdon Art Museum and the Morris Museum, and serves on the executive board at Normandy Park School.  All three women are parents of children in the Morris School District.

Shannon Kikuchi, fashionista-in-chief of the Morristown High School Fashion Club, kicked off the fifth annual MHS Art Show with a runway exhibition of original designs. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Shannon Kikuchi at 2013 fashion show at Morristown High School. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Shannon Kikuchi, meanwhile, is completing her freshman year at the Parsons School of Design in New York, where she is studying business design and management.  During her career at Morristown High, she organized a fashion show and was active in theatrical and video productions.

Her scholarship is named for the founder of the MEF, Stephen B. Wiley, a Morristown High graduate who had distinguished careers in law and politics and spearheaded fundraising campaigns for the Morristown Green, the Morristown & Township Library and the Community Theatre (now the Mayo Performing Arts Center).

In 2012, Shannon helped produce a video tribute to the retired attorney for a gala honoring his civic contributions.

“Shannon embodies the character, insight and foresight that our beloved Mr. Wiley brought to everything he did and touched,”  Connie Hagelin, chair emeritus of the MEF, said in a statement.



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