Four minutes in February: Video highlights from Morristown Onstage…and backstage, too

Finalist Breyton Croom, center, gets congrats from Orion's Belt finalists after returning to the Green Room following his saxophone performance, at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Finalist Breyton Croom, center, gets congrats from Orion's Belt finalists in the Green Room following his saxophone performance, at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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We’re still recovering from Wednesday’s excitement at Morristown Onstage–which we experienced from both sides of the curtain.

First, some video highlights from the winners’ circle:

Congratulations to prize winners Kelly Miller, Kiley Baxter, Orion’s Belt (Anna Grace Yurek and sisters Julia and Charlotte Cama) and Jag Sace.

And congrats to all the finalists for providing such a spirited show.

These 15 acts included Willie’s All Night Chipmunks, Natalie (Rosenthal) & Jillian (Cain), Alexandria (Lexy) Lefkovits, Diana McNiff, Helena Lindner, The Projections, The AHNA Band, Thomas Becht, Breyton Croom, Frank Saia and last but not least, my bandmates in Purple Hayes.

It was a privilege to share the hallowed stage of the Mayo Performing Arts Center with these talented souls.

One of the best parts of this adventure –which starts with December auditions and continues through Media Day in January, a coaching session and weeks of rehearsals, climaxing under the spotlight for four minutes in February–is the Green Room.

MOS Chairperson Molly Servais gets a hand from finalists in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
MOS Chairperson Molly Servais gets a hand from finalists in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Performers are quarantined there from the afternoon sound check through the evening’s final curtain, punctuated by a supper break in MPAC’s small cafeteria upstairs.

As the excitement and tension ratchets up, so too does the camaraderie in the Green Room.

Everyone wants to win–but not at anyone else’s expense.

Each performer is sent out to the stage with communal high-fives. Then all eyes in the Green Room shift to a video monitor relaying the performance. Cheers and hugs greet the performer when he or she returns from the stage.

Here are glimpses from the Green Room, plus views from the stage as we anxiously gazed at 1,300 faces while emcee Tara Bernie prepared to announce the winners:

Backstage slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin. Click/ hover on images for captions:

Finalists Breyton Croom and Kiley Baxter in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
LIGHTEN UP, GIRLS: Orion's Belt, from left, Charlotte Cama, Anna Grace Yurek and Julia Cama, in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The AHNA Band in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Finalists Diana McNiff and Helena Lindner in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Emcee Tara Bernie announces winners onstage at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morris Educational Foundation Director Debbie Sontupe, left, and MOS committee volunteer Hallie Beyer in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Finalists Jillian Cain and Natalie Rosenthal warm up in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
John Hone and Todd Dennison of Purple Hayes warm up in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Stylist Tabitha Moreira, left, with finalist Munah Hayes of Purple Hayes in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Suzi's Salon stylists Tabitha Moreira, Erika Velasquez and Shasling Audenried in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
MOS Chairperson Molly Servais, left, and Committee member Melanie Smith in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
MOS Chairperson Molly Servais gets a hand from finalists in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Susmitha Kantheti of the Morristown Onstage Committee in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
TALENTED TEACHER: English teacher Alexandria “Lexy” Lefkovits also is a formidable singer; here is the finalist in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Finalist Diana McNiff in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Jag Sace, winner of the Rossoff Rising Star Award at the 2019 Morristown Onstage. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Finalist Breyton Croom chills in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Green correspondent Louise Witt interviews finalist Alexandria “Lexy” Lefkovits, in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Anna Grace Yurek of Orion's Belt in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Orion's Belt poses for Munah Hayes in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Finalists await their turn onstage in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Finalist Frank Saia, right, with fellow finalist in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kelly Miller, winner of the adult division at 2019 Morristown Onstage. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Finalists Diana McNiff and Kelly Miller in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kelly Miller, right, greets fans after winning Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Green photographer Jeff Sovelove in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Green contributors Chris Nuccio and Katelyn Nagy in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Munah Hayes of Purple Hayes chats with Douglas Vorolieff of the AHNA Band in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Purple Hayes in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Stylist Shasling Audenried helps Todd Dennison put on his game face for Purple Hayes, in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Finalists watch acts on TV screen in the Green Room at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Finalist Breyton Croom, center, gets congrats from Orion's Belt finalists after returning to the Green Room following his saxophone performance, at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
SELFIE WITH A STAR: Finalist Kevin Coughlin of Purple Hayes with the ever-glamorous emcee and TV personality, Tara Bernie, onstage at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Emcee Tara Bernie prepares to announce winners onstage at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Actually, the lights are so bright you cannot see many faces in the crowd. That’s good. Keeps stage fright at bay.

Before you perform, it also helps if you DON’T think about the icons who have preceded you on that stage. Ringo…Tony Bennett…Ray Charles…Joan Baez… Kristin Chenoweth…that crowd.

Morristown Onstage is possible thanks to many unseen faces, from the Morris Educational Foundation, theater staff AND show sponsors to parents, teachers, partners, and pals of the performers.

Your correspondent is grateful to friends who graciously provided rehearsal spaces and audio gear and advice and critiques and chicken soup and herbal potions and, above all, encouragement and support.

Thank you to Munah, Mimi, Todd and John for taking time from your busy lives to take on this challenge, with gusto. Thank you to Purple Hayes fans who bought tickets to see us.

PURPLE HAYES IS IN THE HOUSE. The Green Room, specifically, at Morristown Onstage 2019. From left: Todd Dennison, KC, Munah Hayes, John Hone and Mimi Hayes. Photo by Irene Avlonitis
PURPLE HAYES IS IN THE HOUSE. The Green Room, specifically, at Morristown Onstage 2019. From left: Todd Dennison, KC, Munah Hayes, John Hone and Mimi Hayes. Photo by Irene Avlonitis.

Special thanks to my Morristown Green team, who enabled me to savor these magic moments by shouldering show coverage for me.

Correspondent Marion Filler was a dynamo, churning out sparkling performer profiles in record time. Photographer Jeff Sovelove superbly documented every leg of this race. Correspondents Louise Witt, Chris Nuccio and Katelyn Nagy pitched in on show night.

Emcee Tara Bernie prepares to announce winners onstage at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Emcee Tara Bernie prepares to announce winners onstage at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

And thank goodness the band decided to go for it.

Back in December, Purple Hayes almost backed out of tryouts. We were rusty, and coming off assorted ailments.

Someone expressed faith in us. And hey, you only go around once…

We talked ourselves into applying at the 11th hour.

Our rehearsal time amounted to 10 minutes. On the day of the audition. Our first session with John, our drummer!

When word came that we made the cut, yours truly rocketed halfway to the moon, propelled by a potent mix of shock and joy.

And then we went to work.

There were lots of laughs, along with the inevitable stresses that come with hectic schedules, violent stomach bugs, fragile costumes, last-minute DIY dental repairs, and 10,000 repetitions (give or take) of the same song.

You can find a million reasons to talk yourself out of this sort of thing. But few thrills compare with singing and playing to the packed balcony of a beautiful theater, in a group pulsating like a mighty engine.

If you ever fantasized about show biz, and you live, work or study in Greater Morristown, give Morristown Onstage a try.

Lady Gaga said it best in her Oscar speech:

“It’s not about winning. But what it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion. And it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.”

So stand up. Surprise yourself. Break a tooth!

Emcee Tara Bernie announces winners onstage at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Emcee Tara Bernie announces winners onstage at Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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