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Behind the scenes of Orcas Has Talent | Reporter's notebook
The lights come up, the crowd is silent, the air still. We sing, exposing truths we usually hide. We play the sax, letting the notes hang like fog. We make people laugh from the depths of their bellies. We dance with joy. We let our fingers glide across the ebony and ivory keys. We dazzle with magic and its mysteries and we infuse life onto the stage through voices, drums, violin and guitar. We smile and wait to see who makes it to the next round and when we succeed we feel lightness, and when we are left behind we feel some darkness.
But it’s not really about who wins.
As a reporter for this paper, I hesitated before becoming a contestant in last weekend’s Orcas Has Talent. I was already writing the preview story and assigned to cover the audition and final competition. But after an interview with Donna Laslo and Judges Gene Nery, Susan Osborn and Bob Shipstad, I felt compelled to jump on board, switching from writer to performer.
“It’s about inspiring others and it’s for such a good cause – all proceeds go to Orcas Island Prevention Coalition to support drug-free youth. Think what you could do for the community,” they said.
Who could say no?
After taking a full break from music for three years, I was hesitant, no terrified, to get back on stage. But after spending an afternoon watching the Orcas Has Talent Junior performance, I was inspired by the courageous island youth who took to the stage with not only musical talent, but some seriously adorable and well-choreographed dance moves. I felt infused with a new kind of fearlessness. And I am so glad I have been a part of this island show and community.
I have only lived on the island for a year, but watching the auditions and then the finals show I saw in great numbers what it means to be a part of this community, a place where people are moved not only by beautiful sounds, but by the familiar faces of neighbors and friends who are willing to share their gifts. It’s a seamless relationship between performers and audience, an inter-changing ebb and flow that only happens in a small town on an island when at times we change places from watching to being watched. It’s a closeness that creates a peace and comfort and ultimately an appreciation for the arts that is hard to match.
There was only one finalist at Orcas Has Talent and Kellen Comrie won that honor with magical and heart-felt original piano compositions.
But everyone came home showered with appreciation and a sense of doing something grand – a few moments in the limelight that made us all feel that we had done something special together.