Chautauqua’s Got Talent Begins; Three Voted Off

The first round of the fourth annual Chautauqua’s Got Talent competition filled the seats and drew standing ovations.

The Spire Theater of Jamestown was packed with area residents on Monday evening as the fourth annual talent competition, presented by Big Time Productions and The Post-Journal, commenced. The evening featured performances by singers, dancers, instrumentalists and a hula hooper.

According to Angelo Giuffre, event organizer for Big Time Productions, this year has the highest number of contestants yet seen for the competition, and all of them have a ton to offer.

“I couldn’t be happier with the turnout tonight – both from the stage and the audience,” said Giuffre. “They are all so good, and it’s really sad to see any of them go home. I really was not unimpressed with a single contestant tonight. They really brought it, and it’s going to be a tight race when it gets down to the top five.”

But, the audience made their choice and three contestants were eliminated including: David Hanley, 34, of Jamestown, who performed “Outside” by Staind; Leah Comstock, 16, of Jamestown, who performed the “Soldier Doll Dance” from “The Nutcracker” ballet; and Marisa Skinner, 11, of Bemus Point, who sang “Get It Right” as performed by the cast of “Glee.” The remaining contestants are competing for a $500 cash prize, website, promotional press kit and a free dinner each month at Wing City Grille for a year.

The event started with a performance by Taylor Latour, 16, of Lakewood, who sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” as performed by Judy Garland. The show continued with Corey Osborne, 22, of Jamestown, who performed “Cough Syrup” by Young The Giant. He was followed by Halle Weston, 15, of Bemus Point, who played piano and sang “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat. Leisha Kolstee, 18, of Jamestown, then took the stage to perform “All I See Is Gold” by Bridgit Mendler.

The first duo act for the evening included Victoria McThian as a vocalist and Sean Gardner as a pianist, who are both from Jamestown. They performed “My Immortal” by Evanescence. The act continued with Corinne Edwards, 15, of Jamestown, who sang “On My Own” from Les Miserables.

Maia Davis, 11, of Jamestown, took the stage in a pink outfit and performed “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele. Davis was followed Samantha Elleman, 12, of Jamestown, who took on Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away.” And, Victoria Campbell, 22, of Little Valley, “Set Fire To The Rain” with Adele’s hit.

Cathy Covarrubias, 24, of Jamestown, surprised the audience with song and character acting from the “Princess and the Pea” musical. She was followed by Michael Earle, 16, of Jamestown, who performed the classic “Santa Fe” from the “Newsies” musical. Keeping with the classic vibe, Stephanie Bensen, 15, of Jamestown, sang and played guitar for “Let It Be” by the Beatles. Bensen was followed by Anna Paterniti, 13, of Jamestown, who performed a doll dance from “The Nutcracker” ballet.

The audience roared with cheers when Hayley Restivo and Ryan Hawkins, both 16 and both of Jamestown, performed “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King and “Time Of The Season” by The Zombies. The duo was followed by Ashley Paulus, 17, of Dewittville, who equally drew attention with her piano playing and vocals on “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles.

The stage was then taken by Austin Anderson, 13, of Jamestown, who sang and played guitar for “One Last Breath” by Creed. Then in a flash of light and sound Lindsey Hinger, 24, of Warren, wowed the audienced with a dance routine that featured a glowing hula hoop. Teal Weatherly, 30, of Jamestown, then belted out an a capella gospel song and the crowd went wild. But, it wasn’t over as Donovan Gomez, 8, of Jamestown, performed “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 in a fashion that Giuffre said reminded him of himself at a young age.

The evening included a lineup change because two acts dropped out. The acts who dropped out include Leanna Harp, a hula hooper, and a duo act called Angels with Voices. As a result K-la Fleurant, who submitted a video audition, was able to sing Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.”

“I think we got to see a fine sampling of what this area has to offer as far as talent,” said Ylsa Giuffre, judge and CEO of Big Time Productions. “I think the audience had a good time and I think the contestants really enjoyed themselves. There was a very special energy in the air tonight. I’m definitely looking forward to next week because I don’t feel like I’m judging, I feel like I’m being entertained just like everyone else and it’s great fun.”

Judges, who provide constructive criticism but do not vote, for the evening were: Jamie Lee, Higgs, Steve Davis and Paul Schermerhorn.

“Tonight I saw some amazing talent and some amazing potential for talent,” said Jamie Lee. “I am thankful that I don’t have to vote in this competition, but I am excited to give some feedback to people.”

“You should come out next week because we had a lot of fun tonight, and don’t you want to see the rest of the fun?” added Jilliane Dolce Higgs.

The second round of this year’s competition is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday at the Spire Theater, 317 E. Third St. in Jamestown. Tickets to each night are $6 pre-sale or $8 at the door, and a pass for all nights is available for $25. The tickets can be purchased at The Labyrinth Press Co., 12 E. Fourth St, Jamestown.

Sponsors of the event include Tim Hortons, Lutheran Social Services, Secret Garden Flower Shop, Odyssey Events and Wing City Grille. Each week an audience member is selected to receive a free dinner to Wing City Grille. Lighting for the show is provided by Prime Time DJ and sound is handled by Star-Sirch Productions.

For more information, call 450-7357, visit spiretheater.org or search for “Chautauqua’s Got Talent” on Facebook.