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Western Mass Performs
6th Annual Talent Show

Talent Show Thrives Despite Mother Nature

Talent Show Winners

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All Winners

Amy Benedatto

Ashley Bousquet

Christina Colon

Callie Damouras

Gracie Aiudi

Nayomi Valle

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For the second year in a row, the Monson Arts Council talent show "Western Mass Performs", was forced by snow to reschedule, this time to its announced snow date on Sunday, February 16 at 2 pm. Thankfully, all the scheduled acts were able to perform, and It was a great show! Though the crowd was smaller than it might have been, they were enthusiastic and entertained.

Though no acts were lost, one of the original judges, Kim Starsiak, was unable to be there. In the final hour before the show went on, a wonderful substitute was found, the Emmy-winning composer and musician Bruce Zimmerman of Sound Productions Music in Windsor, CT. He was on his way to attend the show with his wife when he was recruited by Brent Northrup, the show's MC.

The first prize of $1000 went to a performer who perfectly blended evocative guitar playing with a soulful voice. Christina Colon of Wilbraham, a 15 year old who seemed much more mature as she sang and played, performed a haunting "Aint no Sunshine" by Ray Charles.

Second prize of $500 went to another singer with a voice mature beyond her years. Nayomi Valle of Springfield filled the auditorium with her powerful voice, showing amazing range and color as she strode across the stage, and dominated her music, the song "And I'm Telling You" by Jennifer Holliday.

The third prize winner of $250 was Ashley Bousquet of Palmer, who stood out among many fine dancers in the show. What Ashley presented to the audience was much more ambitious than just a dance; it was a powerful plea to see the beauty and nobility of age through the many afflictions which can come at the end of life. Entitled "Seeing without Eyes, Seeing without a Mind", it was a performance which juxtaposed the beauty and freedom of dance against the anguished motions of afflicted elders.

In addition to the three cash awards, the judges awarded three honorable mention prizes to some very deserving performers. Eight year of Gracie Auidi of South Hadley, who clearly was born to the stage and needed no allowances made for her, was totally captivating with her rendition of "Naughty" from Matilde. Amy Benedetto of Amherst, one of two very good tap dance acts in the show, was really impressive with her interpretation of "I've got Rhythm". Lastly, Callie Damouras of Belchertown showed a beautiful voice in her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables.

Those who managed to get to the show as it dodged the snowstorm were certainly rewarded with a memorable afternoon.

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