Once again, the talented youth of Lanark County came out to audition for this year’s show. “We had over 50 performers – dancers, singers, duets, trios, poets and musicians – audition”, said Artistic Director Christy Bindhardt, “and it was really tough to choose the 15 semi-finalists. We were blown away by the talent this year – the variety and the depth was amazing. Truly, it is the best yet!”.
What started off as a dream of Notre Dame High School student Jeff Gourgon, has turned into an annual event, with the show now in its third year. Auditions were held last week in Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place, Smiths Falls, and Perth at local High Schools – Almonte District, Notre Dame Catholic, Smiths Falls & District and Perth & District. “We really appreciate the support of the schools, and both the UCDSB and CDSBEO for letting us use their facilities – it makes it so much easier for the youth to access the auditions”, noted the show’s Producer, Fraser Scantlebury, of the United Way Lanark County. “Our finale will be at the Mason Theatre at Perth & District Collegiate Institute on October 26th – admission is by donation at the front door, and we are looking forward to a great show, with our fantastic youth talent!”
“At the Finale, the semi-finalists will perform for the audience and our panel of celebrity judges from Lanark County, who will select the five finalists,” according to Bindhardt, “and these acts will then perform once again, with the audience selecting the final winner. Each year the voting for the top five has been close, and we expect the same this year, with such a talented group of performers.” Bindhardt went on to explain a new addition to the selection process of the finalists this year. “We are allowing the fans to help choose the final five, by allowing them to vote for their favorite act, by donating $5 on-line to the United Way Lanark County, at www.mtgt.org. There will be video there from the auditions, and more video to come later in the month. These votes will be combined with the celebrity judges’ choices to select the final five.” Like last year, the final five will return to the stage for one more performance. “Then, it’s up to the audience to select the winner of MTGT for 2012”, said Bindhardt, “as each member of the audience receives one ballot to vote for their choice, to see who will take home the title of Best in Lanark County, back to their hometown!”
The 15 semi-finalists are (listed in random order!): duet Amanda Reside & Phillippa MacDonald, Zach Dods AKA Dj FrOsT, dancer Lauren Mendham, singer Alexander Cox, a trio – Sara Milligan, Max Berkowitz, & Liam Mansfield, singer Seo-Yeon Park, dancer Joshua Ivens, singer and pianist Ray Billiald, singer Monica Guerin, guitarist and singer Danny Bower, singer Keala Traversy, slam poet Satinka Schilling, singer Miranda Wilson, acoustic guitarist Isaiah Kafrissen, and a trio, Jovian Sound – Elizabeth Pierman, Tom Coyne, & Jono Townsend. “These performers will provide the audience with a tough choice,” according to Bindhardt, “any one of these acts could be number one!”
“We are very fortunate this year to have a special guest join us during the time it takes to count the ballots,” commented Scantlebury, “as Perth singer Kasha Lehovich, who came 3rd last year, will be back to entertain the audience. It will all add-up to a great show that we are planning – and I know that Artistic Director Bindhardt is planning a special evening for everyone at the Mason Theatre. Along with Kasha, we will have other special guests, and the whole evening will be hosted by Lanark’s own Brian Perkin of Lake 88. He will be joined on-stage by Donna Stratton from YAK, the Perth Youth Centre, and a guest appearance by last year’s Producer/Host, and the originator of MTGT, Jeff Gourgon.”
Once again, this year’s event is in support of the United Way Lanark County. All donations at the door for the Finale will go towards the United Way’s Youth Initiatives in Lanark County, supporting the five youth centre member agencies. “This is an excellent opportunity for the County to see what our Youth Member Agencies do in each town for the young people in their communities”, notes Sarah Bridson, Executive Director of the United Way. “All five – Carleton Place Youth Centre, Lanark Highlands Youth Centre, YAK Youth Centre in Perth, Smiths Falls and District Youth Centre, and Take Young People Seriously (TYPS) Youth Centre from Mississippi Mills – will be helping out at the auditions and at the final show, and will have information available at the Finale for audience members to see what the Youth Centres are doing in their community”.
An event such as My Town’s Got Talent takes the generous support of sponsors – business and individuals from the community that step forward to help out. “Without our sponsors, we would not be able put on an event such as MTGT. This year, the EMC and Metroland Community papers are returning as Presenting Sponsors, with Lake 88.1, who came on board last year” said Scantlebury. “In addition, the Valley Players of Almonte, who were the originators of the event, are once again a major sponsor, along with the Royal Canadian Legions of Lanark County – Almonte Branch 240, Perth-Upon-Tay Branch 255, Lanark Branch 395, and Smiths Falls Branch 95. We really appreciate the Legions’ support of the County’s youth – Lanark and Smith Falls Branches are joining last year’s supporters, Almonte and Perth Branches, for 2012.” Any organization that wants to join in sponsoring the Finale just has to contact Scantlebury at United Way Lanark County office – 613-253-9074.
“Now it’s up to the people of Lanark County to support their youth – vote on-line at www.mtgt.org to help select the 5 semi-finalists”, says Bindhardt. “then join us on October 26th for the Finale at the Mason Theatre. Remember – remember admission is by donation, and full details are at www.mtgt.org, or contact the United Way at 613-253-9074 – see you at the show!”