Auditions show that Whidbey has talent

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Organizers of Whidbey Island’s first island-wide talent competition for youth are singing the praises of the caliber and number of those who auditioned.

“The kids did a fantastic job and I was impressed with the quality and professionalism of the 18 judges recruited to select the final contestants,” Sarah Russell, Whidbey Has Talent show coordinator, said in a press release.

More than 50 youth turned out to audition for the first Whidbey Has Talent program, which will be held April 24 at the Oak Harbor High School student union building.

“There was kind of an awe factor for the kids when they came up the stairs and saw the stage,” said JR Russell, creator of the competition, which is being produced by the Whidbey Playhouse in Oak Harbor. “And the judges offered each of the kids a critique, almost like what you’d see on [the television show]“America’s Got Talent.” There was specific advice for each of the contestants.”

“It brought people to Whidbey Playhouse who had never been there before,” said Selene Muldowney, one of the volunteer coordinators of the event. “You don’t know how something will be received for the first time. People went bonkers for it; we had a lot of contestants.”

“Now that we have made our talent selections, the next step will be to produce and rehearse the show,” said Sarah. “Everyone is very excited for this soon-to-be annual event that will allow the youth on the island to showcase their performing arts talents.”

“We want to make the event unique and special for the contestants and the community,” said Muldowney.
The field has now been narrowed to 28 acts in three divisions. Presentation division is children in kindergarten through fifth grade; junior division is grades six through eight; and youth in grades nine through 12 will compete in the senior division.

While the competition will take place on one day, each division gets its own show time: presentation at 2 p.m., junior division at 4 p.m. and senior division at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are $5 and are good for all shows.
Awards, including a “People’s Choice,” will be presented in each division. People’s Choice award winners, who will be selected by their respective audiences, will share an encore performance during the senior division show.

The only thing JR Russell said he wished could have changed was participation from the south end of Whidbey Island. There was one applicant from Langley who did not show up for the auditions.
“There were other events going on off island that were just a ferry ride away,” JR said. “But I’m not giving up. The wave has started, next year we’ll get more.”

More information and the list of finalists is available online at www.whidbeyhastalent.com or on the Whidbey Has Talent Facebook page.

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