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As a Morristown's Got Talent! veteran and performer in two acts in this year's talent show, pianist Charlie Savage had a double shot at taking home a prize. He was a member of the band Timeless Jazz, which won first place in the 2008 show, and he accompanied percussionist Oliver Cervantes, who performed Tambourin Chinois on the xylophone. Savage and Cervantes, both 17 and students at Morristown High School, took home the big prize - first place and $1,000 - at the fifth annual Morristown's Got Talent! show.
Over 90 acts auditioned in December for the 16 places in this year's show at the Mayo Performing Arts Center on February 29. "The competition was stiffer than ever," said Debbie Sontupe, Chair of the Morris Educational Foundation and member of the talent show steering committee. "These were hard decisions to make."
Second place and the $500 prize went to Sam Barnes and Adam Honeycutt who had the audience clapping and tapping their feet along to the fiddle and guitar act. The musicians performed an original composition that blended Irish, bluegrass, and Celtic styles.
The rock band Captain Lung, whose members have been playing together since elementary school, wowed the judges with their original piece, Lonely Days. The trio, Johannes Burger, Travis Fielding, and Andy McNally are all students at Morristown High, and now third place winners of Morristown's Got Talent!
"This year's show was our best yet. So much talent and such a celebration of our community!" said Fran Rossoff, Chair of the show's steering committee. The theater's 1,300 seats sold out early this year and helped raise $52,000 for the Morris Educational Foundation. Proceeds will go towards funding grants that enhance the educational experience of students across the Morris School District. "As soon as the curtain closes on this year's show, we'll start planning for next year," said Rossoff.
Some of this year's performers appear regularly at local venues. For others, this was their debut. Emma Farinacci, 13, a student at the Peck School, auditioned because of a friend's encouragement. She earned a spot in the show and sang Rolling in the Deep by Adele.
Lady Mama, known to family and friends as Cristina Cappy, auditioned as an example to her triplets of the importance of following your dreams. Cappy, who claimed to be terrified of performing, belted out Lady Gaga's song, You and I to cheers and applause from the audience.
Nerves didn't appear to affect second grader, Michael Pyo, who says he loves to sing in front of a crowd and bring smiles to people with his music. Pyo sang Tomorrow from the Broadway show Annie and dressed the part in knickers and a cap. He comes from a talented family. His mother accompanied him on piano, as she did for his older brother Chris, a fiddler, who won Morristown's Got Talent! in 2010.
James Cutler, the perpetually positive singing fish monger at Kings, was a crowd favorite. He had his own fan section, faithful customers there to cheer him on. Cutler sang You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine by Lou Rawls.
The fast-paced, well organized show was emceed by comedian John Mruz, a father of four sons, all students in the Morris School District. The difficult decision of picking winners was the job of judges Bruce Moran, president of music company Live Nation's Latin American division; Ben Elliott, a music producer and engineer; David Hess, who has appeared on Broadway in Sweeney Todd and Annie Get Your Gun; and
Ed Kirchdoerffer, Mayo Center general manager.
Morristown's Got Talent! 2012 Finalists:
- Timeless Jazz
- Jasmin Serrano and Laura Rondinella
- Danielle Becht
- Carolina Alvarez
- Sam Barnes and Adam Honeycutt
- Cristina Cappy-Lady Mama
- Top Hat (Joey Gatto, Kiana Davis, Danny Dones, Sean Horan, and Aidan Keefer)
- James Cutler
- Captain Lung (Johannes Burger, Andrew McNally, and Travis Fielding)
- Josh Klein & The Legends (Lucas Kadar, Eric "Swinny" Swiontkowski, and Greg "Torch" Sgrulloni)
- Hanna Neil
- Michael Pyo
- Oliver Cervantes and Charlie Savage
- Emma Farinacci
- Matthew Onigman
- Art of Play (Ricky Webber, Domenico Randazzo, Tyler Volk, and TJ Coon)
Headline sponsor: Atlantic Health System's Morristown Medical Center
- Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
- Provident Bank
- Hedinger & Lawless
- Hackensack University Medical Center
- Morristown Animal Hospital
- Neighborhood Medical Care