COOS BAY - The first of this season's Got Talent Coos County and Reedsport drew the largest crowd the event has seen, according to Stephanie Kilmer, who with her daughter Krista organizes the event.
Got Talent Coos County entered its second season on Thursday after spinning off from Bay Area Teen Idol, which ran for 15 successful seasons. The focus of the program is on providing a unique opportunity for youth to compete through stage performance, give life and work skills through the arts, and to promote a healthy lifestyle by being drug, alcohol and tobacco-free.
"I am so pleased with how it went," Stephanie Kilmer said. "We have many new performers this year. And, a variety of talents. It was so pleasing to see all the people in the audience who came out to support the talent and the program which aims at providing a unique opportunity for local youth. It was our biggest crowd in several years with over 400 people in attendance."
The top six performers recognized Thursday night at the Egyptian Theatre were announced in no particular order. They included:
— The band SOWR (pronounced Sour). Band members are Roxy Day (13, Coos Bay), Sierra Bell (14, Coos Bay), Oscar Day (14, Coos Bay) and Wyatt Smith (13, North Bend). They performed the song "Basket Case."
— Aiden Slaska, 16, North Bend performing "You'll Be Back" from the musical "Hamilton."
— Hope Stephens, 16, North Bend singing "Make You Feel My Love."
— Haley Belcher, 16, of Coquille with an original and powerful poetry recitation titled "A War I Can Win."
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— Moira O’Bryan, 16, North Bend performing the musical theater number "Maybe This Time."
— Seth Grover, 18, North Bend on the piano with an original composition "Farewell."
Judges included some long-time members of the panel: Madeline Gonsalves, Vincent Cavarra and Michael Brumit. Two new judges added some additional experience to the panel, Kilmer said. They are Mel Campbell, who remains a member of the Screen Actors Guild and Equity. She has performed professionally on television and radio as well as the stage as part of the cast of "The Drunkards," one of the longest running stage shows in Hollywood. The second new judge is Jhana Brown, who has performed on stage for much of her life. She also worked in theater administration at many Portland theaters and as a fire dancer performing with 700 others at Burning Man. She returned to the Bay Area and has performed in seven local stage productions and is on the board of the On Broadway Thespians.
For Got Talent Coos County, judges score contestants in five different areas: stage presence, technical ability, difficulty of selection or act as well as material chosen, appearance/costume, and creativity. Contestants can score a total of 100 points per judge. Each week the judges may change but the criteria will remain the same. Scores are cumulative. Performers must perform a new piece for each show. There are no eliminations.
"It is exciting," said Krista Kilmer. "It is one of the largest groups we have had in many years, and super talented. It never ceases to amaze me the courage these young people have to step out on that stage and share their talents. You can tell this group takes it seriously, too, which hasn't always been the case. Their drive to give the audience their best was prevalent in the opening show. They are eager to learn from our experienced judges and our performance coach."
"By opening this program to multiple talents it provides a unique opportunity for our audience," she added. "Their support of the performers is equally as important to just having that opportunity to step on the stage. We have all levels of skills. One of our performers had never stood on stage before and another was so nervous they had to be calmed and coaxed on stage. They both nailed their performances. It reminds me that just having that moment to face their fear, conquer it, give their best and have the audience enthusiastically respond reminds me of why we do this."
The 2018 winner Makayla Wingert has consistently stepped up to do special performances at local events, provides mentoring to peers, Kilmer said. She performed twice at Thursday's event.
The next show is at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at the Egyptian Theatre. Admission is $3, underwritten by Banner Bank, South Coast Family Denistry and Fred Meyer. Other performance dates are Aug. 15 and Sept. 19.