2007-08-16 / Front Page

Talent tryouts weather the storm

By Sam Bari

Not booming thunder, pelting rain, or driving winds kept the talented from strutting their stuff at the 18th Annual Talent Show, "350 Years: Then and Now," tryouts at the Jamestown Community Center on Monday and Tuesday nights.

They danced till their feet hurt, they sang their hearts out, they told stories and jokes, and played the piano. The promise of "something for everyone" was evident in the enthusiastic performances of the participants and from the supportive audience cheering for their favorites. Both new and repeat performers were passionate in their efforts to impress the judges, outperform the competition, and entertain all who would watch, listen, and applaud.

During the tryouts, Victoria Griffis, 19, a ballet dancer visiting her grandparents who summer in Jamestown, wowed the audience and judges with a spectacular dance performance that had to impress the judges. Griffis is a sophomore at Fordham University in New York where she is majoring in business. She has been dancing since she was three years old.

Pianist Janet Grant's "Summer Song," an ensemble of male and female jazz singers, entertained the audience with complex harmonies and swinging melodies that drew oohs and ahhhs from all who attended.

John Biddle, 82, did a comedic dance with daughter Sophie that brought smiles, laughter, and warm applause from the audience and judges alike. Biddle was one of the original producers of the annual talent extravaganza and has been as- sociated with or performed in all 17 shows.

Marcia D'Orsi brought her three talented grandchildren, who are visiting her for the summer, to try out for the first time. Drew, 7, impressed the audience with his Tae Kwon Do moves, his sister Tess, 9, sang "Big Girls Don't Cry, and older sister Hope, 12, sang the pop tune, "Don't Worry About It."

B. J. Whitehouse, director of the Jamestown Community Chorus, encouraged the audience to sing along and helped Jessica Wilson of Narragansett perform her original composition of "Bouncer the Mini Poodle." The audience joined in and sang, "The fluffy wuffy poodle doodle day" under Whitehouse's able direction.

Whitehouse was on hand to give performance tips to the participants as needed and help them to relax and give their very best. He even showed a smiling young pianist how to curtsy when the audience applauded.

One of the highlights of the Monday night tryouts was a stirring rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" by Emma Joy, 11, a Jamestown summer resident. The audience stood while she sang the national anthem and applauded wildly, impressed by the strength of her voice, and her dynamic performance.

Ava White, 11, a second year participant, played Sonatina Opus 36 by Clementi on the piano. White, a Jamestown summer resident is a published poet and author.

Michael Bowen, a stand-up comedian from Newport, got the last laugh as he had the audience in stitches with stories about his youth and family.

Don't miss out. Come to the 18th Annual Talent Show, "350 Years: Then and Now." Several surprises and at least two world premieres of new songs are promised.

Signed acts for tonight's performance include John Biddle, Emily Anthony, Ava White, the Kathy Brownell follies, Janet Grant on piano, the Barbershop group, "Just 4 Fun," and the Providence Ballroom and Jazz Project, a competing dance troupe of five women and five men from Barrington.

Frank Darigan will once again serve as Master of Ceremonies tonight, at 7:30 p.m., at the Jamestown Community Center, 41 Conanicus Ave.

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