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Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2009 11 years ago

Sarasota proves it's got talent

by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

Johna Desrosiers clasps her hands firmly around the microphone and holds it steady, the picture of poise.

She has just scored the leading role in Sarasota High School’s performance of “Cinderella” — the only freshman to be cast in the play.

As the 14-year-old opens her mouth to sing “Part of Your World,” from “The Little Mermaid,” she roams around the stage — barefoot. She’s clearly content with her song choice. But before Desrosiers can exit, the six judges, Roberta MacDonald and Bob Turoff, of the Golden Apple Dinner Theater; Jeffrey Kin, of The Players of Sarasota; Cory Boyas, of SRQ Dance Inc.; Tyson Nales, Mr. UCF from University of Central Florida; and Matt McHugh, of The Center for Musical Theatre; have a few comments and questions for her.

Turoff: “You’re barefoot.”

Desrosiers: “I feel more comfortable barefoot.”

Turoff: “I don’t want to be looking at your feet … ”

Kin: “You tended to wander and it’s fine if that’s what your song is about. On the difficult notes, plant your feet so you get support.”

MacDonald: “You have a terrific voice.”

Turoff: “You handled the microphone well.”

Kin: “This whole conversation has been about shoes and feet.”

Desrosiers was just one of 44 acts (70 people) who auditioned for the first “Sarasota’s Got Talent” competition Saturday, Sept. 12, at Plymouth Harbor.

Compared to the television series “America’s Got Talent,” MacDonald says she and the other five judges are pussycats.

“We haven’t buzzed anybody,” said Kin. “We’ve all been on the other side of the audition experience when people are judging you — we give pointers.”

Julie Rohr McHugh, who is coordinating the event, called the talent during the preliminary auditions Saturday “amazing.”

“These are tough economic times and I feel like the theater people need to pull together,” McHugh said.

“We’ve had Michael Jackson dancers, Broadway and opera singers, Spotlight Kids and Jordan Boezem, who was just cast in the national tour of ‘Annie.’”

The “Sarasota’s Got Talent” finals will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, at the Sarasota Military Academy. The winner in each of the three age categories (juveniles, teenagers and adults) will receive a $200 prize.

Early Saturday morning, the competition’s oldest contestant and the 2008 second-place winner in “Sarasota Senior Idol,” June Bowers, auditioned for the competition.

Even at 93, Bowers is as feisty as they come with a quirkiness all her own. She recited three original poems, two of which have won national recognition. The judges called her a “lovely, left-handed redhead.”

“Roberta MacDonald thought the music stand should have been lower because she couldn’t see my face very well,” Bowers said. “I thought there was air blowing my papers because I had to hold them.”

One poem entitled, “Reflection,” describes Bowers’ feelings when she looks into a mirror.

“What I see in the mirror, I do not know, the hair does not shine, the cheeks do not glow,” recited Bowers.

“Lips, once luscious and ripe for a kiss, now crepe-paper ribbons, no one will miss. And the creepy skin runs right down the neck to the drooping breasts, once perky, now drek ... ”

That afternoon, The Sarasota Young Voices Community Choir performed “Stand Together” by Jim
Papoulis. The choir will travel to Scotland next summer and hopes to put $200 in winnings toward the trip.

“The kids love this song,” said Genevieve Beauchamp, director of the choir. “He writes a lot of music for children to have a voice. It’s a nice message for kids to stand together and how kids need to take over the future.”

The judges agreed the choir’s voices were beautiful, but suggested that the girls focus on something in front of them instead of staring in various directions.

Kin: “When she is playing the piano, imagine Genevieve is standing here helping you enjoy yourselves and smile. If you all did that through the whole piece, you would all relax and your shoulders would go down.”
MacDonald: “You have to figure out what to do with your arms. You’re holding those thighs like they’re going to run away from you.”

Turoff: “Will you tell me why there are two different shoelaces on that girl?”

At another audition, the competition’s youngest contestant, Breanna O’Keefe, 8, serenaded the judges with “There’s Magic in the Music.”

“It’s going to be a really tough choice between all these people,” McHugh whispered during O’Keefe’s audition.

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