Enthusiastic attendees voted singer Marissa Veldman to stardom tonight at the 2012 Orcas Has Talent competition. As expected, the competition was sizzling, with tons of local talent making the voting painfully difficult for the audience.
AllMost Canadian band drummer Kellen Comrie accompanied Veldman on piano for her first two songs, and she came in a cappella on the third with “Amazing Grace” to beat out final round contestants Carl Burger and AllMost Canadian.
Conductor Pamela Wright and her young strings group The Ceolinas, named after the cello, viola and violin, impressed the judges with their harmony on a number from the Pirates of the Caribbean. Veldman sang Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home,” followed by Burger on a 1960’s Bill Steele number, the environmental plea “Garbage.” Former Buffalo, NY bread co-op manager Maura Pellettieri accompanied herself on piano on a soulful original composition, causing a hush to fall over the audience and leading judges to anticipate more songs from her during the evening.
Talent Junior winner Matthew Laslo-White apparated out of nowhere with his cheeky grin and mysterious illusions, earning a “You’ve got magic!” from judge Bob Shipstad.
Saxophonist Al Bentley and tuba player Matthew “Wally” Wallrath appeared as “The Bicycle Horse Brigade,” starting their musical act with a skit complete with furry-hatted sidekick Michaud Sauvage as the “compost genie.” Rhiannon Lawson graced the stage with a number from the Burlesque Bombshells; KT Lazlo turned heads in a slinky outfit as she rocked KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree,” and AllMost Canadian members Dylan Thompson, twin sisters Emy and Lisa Carter, brother-sister Julia and Christian Bailey, and Kellen Comrie rolled out the high energy “If I Ruled the World” by Big Time Rush.
In round two The Ceolinas rocked Coldplay’s Viva la Vida as only a strings group can; judges noted the group’s “chamber music” quality of perfect timing without the help of a director.
Judge Joe Babcock praised Veldman for the “enormous voice you’ve got packed in there” and Burger showed off his fabulous musical dexterity and perfect pitch with a difficult and hilarious song by folksinger William Day, “The Key of ‘R’,” jesting, “Some folk think I’m sharp or flat, but the key of R just sounds like that.”
Laslo-White delighted the audience by smoothly pulling an impressively composed young Arla Sutton from the audience and appearing to balance her in midair with the help of a single helium balloon tied to her ankle, turning a flame into a sliced strawberry, exchanging a vial of colorful scarves for a tube of live goldfish and more cheeky tricks.
KT Lazlo took on Adele’s “Didn’t I” in a dazzling white draped gown she designed and created herself, prompting judge Anita Orne’s compliment, “You sing fabulously – you got soul, girl!”
AllMost Canadian upped the ante on fun with “Walkin’ on Sunshine” to finish out the round.
Organizer Donna Laslo shared her 2012 “Special Talents” video during the vote counting.
Martin Lund on saxe instigated his “blues-singing canine,” Winston, to a sorry howl; Robert Hall gave a fearsome impression of speaking Japanese; Al Bently behind the counter at Darvill’s Bookstore showed off his book-DJ skills and ability to levitate credit card receipt rolls; blacksmith Jorgen Harle flipped a molten poker into the air with his foot and caught the desirable end of it; Norway exchange student Erlend Munkerud showed off his double-jointed “alien” fingers; and many more islanders displayed surprising and funny abilities.
And then there were three: Veldman and Burger both singing to beat the band (AllMost Canadian).
Veldman belted out simple “Amazing Grace,” and Burger had the audience in stitches with more quirky lyrics on Pat Donahue’s “Would You Like to Play the Guitar?”
AllMost Canadian took the stage for the competition’s last number, bringing even more energy and verve with “Old Time Rock and Roll,” earning the comment from judge Sue Babcock, “You’re on fire tonight.”
In the end, Veldman covered her face with emotion as she was announced the 2012 winner, and Bailey swept across the stage to whirl her friend around in a big, excited hug.