2017-08-17 / Front Page

Talent on tap tonight at rec center

Performance is chorus’ annual fundraising event
BY RYAN GIBBS


The Critters, an all-female a cappella ensemble featuring singers from SummerSong, audition Monday for tonight’s talent show. 
PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN The Critters, an all-female a cappella ensemble featuring singers from SummerSong, audition Monday for tonight’s talent show. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN A Swedish version of Nat King Cole, two sibling duets and a self-taught banjo player will highlight tonight’s 28th annual talent show.

The show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the recreation center, 41 Conanicus Ave., has been a tradition since 1989 as the largest money-maker for the Jamestown Community Chorus. B.J. Whitehouse, the chorus’ director, said the fundraiser has endured because the community’s eclectic plethora of talent and, just as important, the townspeople’s interest in watching one another.

“Jamestown is a very special place in many ways,” he said. “We like to see our neighbors having fun. Sometimes we are surprised how talented they are. It’s pretty fascinating.”

Not about winners


Mairead Lapierre, 7, performs her gymnastics routine at auditions Monday night at the recreation center. She will return to the stage tonight during the talent show. 
PHOTO BY ANDREAVON HOHENLEITEN Mairead Lapierre, 7, performs her gymnastics routine at auditions Monday night at the recreation center. She will return to the stage tonight during the talent show. PHOTO BY ANDREAVON HOHENLEITEN The show’s format is time-tested. Since its founding, the emphasis has been on participation, not competition. There are no winners or losers, no prizes and no set limit on the number of acts that perform. Hopefuls who audition typically are not rejected unless there are extraordinary circumstances. Among the reasons, Whitehouse doesn’t want a glut of any specific type of act. Still, he encourages everybody to try out.

“We try to have a balance,” he said.

As with every summer, the auditions welcome a mix of new faces and usual suspects, including several performers who will make multiple appearances on tonight’s bill. Christina Gravdahl auditioned four separate times Monday night. First, she sang as a member of SummerSong, a vocal ensemble that performs annually at the show. Then she performed as a member of The Critters, an all-female spinoff of Summer- Song. The a cappella group was created specifically for tomorrow’s show.

“We have so much fun singing,” she said. “We started out too high, but I think we’ll do better next time.”

For her third act, she sang as a soloist with Whitehouse’s “everybody choir,” which welcomes members of all of ages and experience. Compared to the community chorus, this group sings simpler songs with more laid-back rehearsals. It was unveiled at the 2016 talent show.

Finally, Gravdahl took the stage by herself. For her solo act, Gravdahl will perform “Sakta vi ga genom stan,” a Swedish adaptation of the American jazz standard “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home.” In the North Germanic language, the song translates to “slowly we walk through the city.”

Since Monday’s audition, Gravdahl has heard positive feedback about her rendition of the tune, which is music to her ears because she had a touch of stage fright.

“I was kind of nervous,” she said.

Foreign, kids acts abound

Tonight will be the first time Gravdahl performs in her native language in front of a hometown audience. Born in Sweden, she has lived in the United States since the mid-1970s. She was president of the Swedish Museum Singers in Philadelphia before moving to Jamestown.

Another international act is London-native Isabelle Mattera, who sings and plays the guitar. After two years of covering songs at the talent show, the summer resident will showcase an original composition. She previewed the song, “Turning Around,” Monday, which also was her 15th birthday.

“The crowd is so accepting of everyone,” she said. “It’s a great place to play and it’s a great audience to be around. You go out there and you feel good, no matter how you feel you did.”

Like Gravdahl, Mattera had more than one audition. She also performed with her 10-year-old brother, Antonio, in a duet version of the Bruno Mars song “Count on Me.”

“It was just a fun song,” she said. “As brother and sister, I thought it was a sweet kind of duet because the words relate to us.”

Another sibling duet at tomorrow’s show will be courtesy of Catherine and Josephine Carwill- Ridnour. The sisters auditioned with a song literally titled “Audition,” which was performed by actress Emma Stone during a pivotal scene in the Oscar-winning film “La La Land.”

“We thought it would be a great song to do,” Josephine, 16, said. “It was originally a solo, but we were able to partition it out to make it a duet, which was a lot of fun.”

Mattera and the Carwill-Ridnour sisters will be joined on the bill by another teenager who has become a regular.

Jamestowner Philip Reilly, 17, has performed on the guitar during his four previous trips to the stage. This year, however, he’s bringing along a new instrument. He got the idea from watching “The Muppet Movie.”

“I got the idea of playing the banjo because I liked the sound of it,” he said. “I decided to see how it would look in my hands.”

Reilly began playing the banjo after unwrapping the instrument on his birthday last summer. With his sights set on performing at this year’s talent show on his new stringed friend, he’s spent the last 11 months practicing “The Rainbow Connection,” the signature song from “The Muppet Movie.”

Also on the bill are the Conwell sisters, Juno, 9, and Eden, 7. They traveled from Middletown with their family to audition their three-pronged act, which includes singing, dancing and piano.

“We wanted to show off our talents and have fun,” Juno said.

Admission is $7, but students and senior citizens will receive a $2 discount. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Baker’s Pharmacy, The Secret Garden and Jamestown Hardware. They also will be available at the door.

Return to top