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.
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:
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.
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.
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!