By Sarah Smith
Viva Loudoun High School Intern
Ashburn (Jan. 9, 2013) – The show kicked off with puffs of smoke and neon lights pulsing in geometric patterns on the ceiling. This was “Thunderstruck.”
The Stone Bridge High School auditorium was packed Jan. 4 not only with SBHS students and parents, but students and parents from Broad Run and Briar Woods high schools as well as students representing the three Ashburn schools were competing for a chance to win $1000.
John Fletcher, Stone Bridge’s PTSO president came up with the idea of the unique talent show to fulfill the goals of Bulldog Principal James Person.
“At the beginning of the year, Mr. Person told me he wanted a community event that would bring students and parents together,” Fletcher said. “My original suggestion was a talent show, but I worried that a traditional talent show might seem ‘lame’ to high school talents. So I worked with some talented individuals and this idea of a talent show just sort of exploded into ‘Thunderstruck’.”
Feet tapped and heads bounced along to the catchy tune as a group of parents played “Thunderstruck,” the theme that was center stage at the talent show. All of the competitors lined the stage, their fists pumping along to the edgy AC/DC tune.
The competitors were divided into groups of finalists. In between the rounds of finalists, other performing groups took the stage to provide transitions into the main acts. The first of these was a trio of vocalists from Stone Bridge and Briar Woods, Julia Berg, Maddie Ettrich, and Emma Wright, singing Capital Cities’ song “Safe and Sound.”
This talent show was based off of a very competitive audition process aiming to bring the best local talents together. Early in December, students interested in performing in the talent show were asked to submit a video of them performing, and the best of these were then selected.
Traditional talent show acts like singing and dancing were combined with things like acoustic tapping, a way of blending together acoustic guitar and percussion.
“I performed an original song that I composed over the last couple of months,” Briar Woods student Donnie Bishop said. “I was really influenced by Mike Dawes and Jon Gomm. I love being on stage, and it’s great to share my love of music and acoustic tapping with people.”
The first group of finalists also featured a band titled Give Delirium, a hardcore/metal band composed of Broad Run students Scott Seigel, Jake Hitzges, Alex Horvath, Mike Green, and home school student Andrew Reale.
One of the first groups to truly leap across the stage was a trio of students from Broad Run and Stone Bridge, Lauren Hathaway, Hannah Jennens, and Paige Ensminger. These girls all met and currently dance together at the local dance center, Studio Bleu, where they perform in regional competitions. However, the trio’s routine to “Run the World,” was their first performance together at a school event.
“The best part about performing in Thunderstruck was receiving so much support from the audience,” Ensminger said. “It was really special having our friends and family come out to see us dance, because the three of us don’t get to perform at school together since we go to different high schools.”
Local singer/songwriter and Briar Woods student Sydni Alexander also took the stage, accompanied by her tour band. She performed an original song “Why Don’t You,” one of Alexander’s handful of songs on iTunes. She plans on releasing and a second EP by the spring and hopes to be on tour by summer.
“I thought this would be a really fun opportunity to perform,” Alexander said. “I’ve always been inspired by artists like Taylor Swift who kept trying no matter how many times they were rejected. Now they’re big stars.”
Another local celebrity, Brandon Diaz, took the stage twice, once with fellow Briar Woods student Jessica Howard, and once as a solo vocalist. Diaz has been on both The Voice and The X Factor. His solo performance, dubbed by judges as “one of the most awaited for of the evening,” was of the song “Say Something,” originally performed by Great Big World.
The Royal Thieves, an emerging acoustic band comprised of Stone Bridge students also took the stage, but with two twists: Sydni Alexander in place of their usual singer, Ian Peterson, and a new more acoustic sound in place of their alternative rock style. The band performed a rendition of “Counting Stars” a One Republic song.
“We all jumped at this chance to perform,” Stone Bridge student Sayak Das said. “It looked like a great opportunity that featured many other talented acts.”
Unlike other dance finalists, Stone Bridge student Caitlin Rogers brought to the stage a much more classical routine, a performance of the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” en pointe.
“I’ve been dancing since I was two and a half and am currently dancing with the Washington Ballet,” Rogers said. “I did this because I wanted to get even more experience with performing so that it might help me with other ballet performances.”
These acts were all critiqued by three judges: Victor Lopez, Gina McCort, and Jon Mitchell. These three individuals have all made many accomplishments in the performing arts field. Lopez is the owner of Lopez Studios, Inc. Performing Arts School, McCort is the director of the Virginia Performing Arts Academy, and Mitchell is a Grammy winner for Best Country Instrumental Performance.
Following each performance the judges would offer both compliments and critiques, analyzing each performer’s ability to control the stage.
After several hours filled with many performances, lots of loud music, and a multitude of flashing neon lights, the judges came to a decision. Brandon Diaz won the first place title and the $1000 for his performance of “Say Something.” He was followed by the Royal Thieves in second and the trio of dancers in third.
“Without a doubt the best part of this evening was giving these students a rock star environment to perform in,” head of house management and publicity Mark Consani said. “It was a great night.”
Sarah Smith is a junior at Stone Bridge High School