Nine hopeful performers sang, told jokes, performed magic, played music and danced their way across the Orcas Stage on Saturday night for Orcas Has Talent.
But there could be only one winner.
Sixteen-year-old Kellen Comrie wowed the audience with his own compositions on the piano and went home with first place and the prize of $500. Comrie has been playing the piano since he was little. He is also a drummer in the band Allmost Canadian.
“You speak music and that language will you take you around the world,” said judge Susan Osborn. “We hope it will eventually take you back to us on Orcas.”
According to organizers, winning is only a small part of the Orcas Has Talent experience.
“It’s all about supporting artists who are brave enough to make their way to the stage,” said Judge Gene Nery.
Nery joined Osborn and Bob Shipstad as judges for this year’s competition. It’s a job they take very seriously. They all spent time mentoring each contestant before the final show.
And all net proceeds from the show go to Orcas Island Prevention Coalition, which makes it even more meaningful to performers, judges and organizers.
“This is our community show, it belongs to our community,” said Donna Laslo, event producer. “OIPC’s over-arching goal is prevention. The show represents kids and adults in a fun, healthy family show for a great cause.”
Other competitors were Allmost Canadian, comedian Conrad Wrobel, singing and dancing group the M&Ms (Cameryn Thompson, Sabrina Bailey and Paris Wilson, who won the junior competition), classical music singer Cali Bagby, saxophone player Gregory Books, singer Yuko Horikawa, magician Matthew Laslo-White and singer Jake Perrine.
During intermission Stormy Hildreth impressed islanders with her rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Next up was the screening of the flash mob dance video at Island Market.
Allmost Canadian, the M&Ms, Bagby, Laslo-White, Perrine and Comrie all made it to the second round. After more performances, it was then narrowed down to Bagby, Laslo-White and Comrie.
Before the winner was announced, Nery and Osborn performed a heart-warming version of “That’s What Friends Are For” with cameos from some of the competitors.
Island youth also get the opportunity to work behind the scenes each year. Jessica Gudgell shadowed Laslo as an event producer for her second year. There were also 22 OIPC students as well as other kids who helped with tech, lights, sound, audio visual and projection.
Julie Pinardi, of OPIC, said there are many comparisons between what the coalition is teaching youth and what Orcas Has Talent is providing for island youth.
“There are parallels between support from parents and the community, goal setting and reaching those goals and finding strength within yourself,” Pinardi said.