Thought I should update you on my foray into the world of being a judge for a talent contest. If you remember my post last week (and if you can’t, it’s HERE) I had the unenviable task of judging a group of very talented youngsters from a local performing arts group here in Spalding. I escaped unscathed from the heats and prepared myself for the semi-finals and final this weekend.
This is the third year of Polka Dot Has Talent and the stakes are high as the prize for the winner is £1000. Yes, you read that correctly. One winner (a solo act or a group) walks away with a cool grand. No pressure, then, to get the right result.
The semi-final on Friday night was quite tough. How do you whittle down 18 acts, ranging from group dance acts through to three little children with the cute-factor doing a rendition of I Just Can’t Wait to be King from The Lion King? We came up with a final 12 eventually, though I went to bed that night wishing we could just have put them all through.
The final yesterday afternoon was held at the South Holland Centre in Spalding. It’s a lovely theatre, seats about 350, and the finalists would get to perform on a proper stage with a sparkly backdrop, atmospheric lighting and excellent sound system. I was nervous and I wasn’t even performing. They, on the other hand, seemed to grow in confidence and were all very excited backstage.
We stood waiting for our cue music, the X-factor tune thundered out as we took our seats in one of the upstairs boxes. I tried to channel Cheryl Cole/Amanda Holden but as I sat in the box I felt more like The Queen or Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets.
The 12 finalists performed in the first half, to huge applause from their supportive families and the usual comments, praise and constructive criticism from us. Two of the highlights: the powerful voice of the beautiful Beth Newman, whose performance of I Dreamed a Dream made me cry and a very funny pair of teenage lads doing a Robbie Williams/Jonathan Wilkes version of Me and My Shadow plus a Robbie/Jane Horrocks version of Things, complete with blonde wig and soprano voice.
In the interval the four judges escaped to deliberate. We each had our favourites, to the extent that all four of us had made totally different choices. Scores had to be added up, including those from the audience who were allowed one vote each and became a fifth judge.
In the second half the audience were treated to the semi-finalists who hadn’t reached the final but got the chance to perform; and perform they did, brilliantly. Last year’s winner, George, repeated his winning song, Sunset Boulevard, and a group from Polka Dot who had been in New York the week before, hoping to perform in Central Park, only for the concert to be cancelled due to Hurricane Irene, treated the audience to a fabulous medley of musical theatre songs.
So, who won? After much checking, the result was a dead heat between two acts who each took home £500. First place was shared between Emily Murray, a 17 year old with a stunning voice who had sung Defying Gravity from Wicked and Double Threat, a very young brother and sister pairing whose perfectly choreographed hip-hop routine to Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO was breathtaking.
Does Polka Dot have Talent? A resounding YES!
I’ve managed to find a video of Emily’s winning performance from Saturday. Hopefully you will see why she was joint winner with a voice I couldn’t match in a million years. Turn your volume up and enjoy – but beware there’s a big screech from her family right at the end.