2011-08-18 / News

Singers, musicians and storytellers audition for tonight’s talent show


Ava White, 15, of Providence and Jamestown, has been performing at the island’s talent show since she was “6 or 7 years old,” she said. 
PHOTO BY MARGO SULLIVAN Ava White, 15, of Providence and Jamestown, has been performing at the island’s talent show since she was “6 or 7 years old,” she said. PHOTO BY MARGO SULLIVAN Officially, it’s the Jamestown talent show, but if some out-oftowners give the locals a run for their money, it’s all part of the fun, according to Pat Perry, one of the show’s directors.

The program starts tonight at the Jamestown Recreation Center at 7:30 p.m., with the Men’s Chorus of Jamestown and the community band setting the stellar tone, Perry said. The community chorus organizes the event.

Tickets cost $7 for adults, and $5 for children and seniors. They can be purchased in advance at McQuade’s Marketplace.

“We usually have around 15 acts,” she said. The lineup was not settled yet because the judges - Perry, John McCauley and show emcee Frank Darigan - had yet to review the Tuesday night acts.

On Monday, the first of two audition nights, the panel of three judges heard from about a dozen singers, storytellers and musicians. The hopefuls included two 15-year-old sensations – Sam Hollister of Jamestown and Ava White of Providence and Jamestown - who grew up before the hometown audience’s eyes.

But in a night of friendly competition, the visitors also made their mark, including newcomer Manny Brando of Woonsocket who delivered a spirited rendition of “Delilah,” the Tom Jones favorite.

Brando said afterwards that he has played Jamestown before, singing at a past Holy Ghost Society Festival.

“I sing every day. The doctor slapped me, and I started singing,” he said. He added that he saw the sign at East Ferry and decided to audition. A friend happened to be auditioning, too, so he called her for the specifics. Brando started his act with a little stand-up comedy.

“I want to put everyone’s mind at rest,” he said. “I’m not a priest,” he quipped, referring to his allblack outfit, shirt and dress pants.

Before Brando had his chance, Woonsocket’s Chris Medina, a familiar face at the talent show, wowed the crowd with an Elvis song. And Kim Oakes of Warwick sang a Loretta Lynn standby.

“Oh, they’re wonderful,” Perry said. “Chris has been here before.” Perry then made a prediction for tonight’s show: “[Medina] will wear his Elvis suit.”

“And Kim is always dressing up,” Perry added, describing her past costumes, notably a black skirt with gold trim and a pair of gold lame boots.

According to Jessica Wilson, the talent show’s publicist, part of the fun comes in seeing neighbors reveal some hidden talents. “That’s part of it,” she said. “You walk by people all the time during the year, and it’s really fun to find out what they can do.”

Wilson, who has participated in past years, stressed the fact that the talent show audience welcomes everyone.

“Nobody’s going to boo,” she said. “If you’re a little bit shy about performing, this is a great place to start.”

Wilson said Darigan is a show by himself. He interviews all the talent in advance, she said, so he can give each one a personal introduction.

“He introduces them in a really nice way and puts everyone at ease,” she said.

Wilson said she sang two songs she had written herself but could never had found the courage without Darigan’s support.

“I couldn’t do that,” she said, “if I didn’t feel safe.”

Some of Monday night’s acts, in fact, were literally at home at the talent show.

Ava, 15, for example, has been singing in the talent show for “six or seven years,” she said.

“[Ava] was a child when she started,” Wilson said. But despite her years, she showed a “command” of performing and a stage presence.

Although she started out as a singer, she has switched to storytelling, Ava said. For the audition, she performed “The Monkey’s Paw,” a W.W. Jacobs horror story. The storytelling started as a fourth-grade school project, she said, when her class had to tell two-minute “Twisted Fairy Tales.”

Many of the children struggled to fill the two minutes, but Ava came up with a version of “Little red Riding Hood” and five or six minutes of material, according to her mother, Mary Farrell.

“We thought we might have something here,” she said. Ava said she has been studying storytelling as an art ever since.

Sam also started young. He was playing piano at age 5. Sam made his first talent show appearance at 7. Last year, he won the talent show’s music scholarship prize. At Monday’s audition, he played Claude Debussy’s “Toccata.”

“I’m just going to try to enjoy the performance as much as possible,” he said.

Other favorite acts also returned for the Monday night audition. Susan Kieronski of Newport with the group Summersong said that the party is, in fact, dominated by Jamestown residents. They will sing “Take 5.” Their repertoire, she said, includes “jazz standards, some classical and some pop.”

Kieronski’s personal favorite, though, is a cowboy song called “Cool Water,” and the group is closing with a piece by Brahms, which she said “means a lot to my heart.”

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