By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — If Friday night’s preliminary tryouts for the upcoming “The Valley’s Got Talent” contest proved anything, it is that there are extraordinary singers and musicians waiting to be discovered in the Valley.
The final competition will spotlight 16 of the best acts in the Valley, but narrowing the 45 hopefuls who auditioned to 16 was the troubling task tackled by the show’s judges at the Sunbury Elks Club.
“People think of talent contests as just singing,” said Janet Yonkoskie, a preliminary-round judge. “But we think of it as more like the “America’s Got Talent” TV show. Talent can be singing, dancing or anything else.”
As proof of that, one of the acts trying out on Friday night was a group of 10 dancers billed as the GSV Gymnasts of Sunbury, who performed a wonderfully choreographed dance and gymnastic routine.
“What we’re looking for,” judge Bill Mackey said, “is not just talent, but stage presence. After all, when it comes down to the final grouping, it’s a big show with a large audience. When someone performs a song, we look for some animation, movement and selling of that song, as well, of course, as the voice.”
Friday’s preliminary elimination round, the second of two nights, featured amazing performances by Abby Bell, of Watsontown, a country music star in the making Aubrey Potash, of Mifflinburg, who was definitely not “Shy” singing the Broadway tune with that name Dominique Raup, of Millmont, and the acoustic duo of Ginger Mathews of Sunburg with Jim Oakum.
The night began with two renditions of the popular “Cup Song,” as performed first by Jamie Dreese, 10, of Sunbury, and Anna Wiest, 11, of Sunbury.
During a break between acts, Mackey noted how quickly the talent contest has grown.
“In our first year, we had 18 auditions, and almost everyone made the finals,” he said with a laugh. “In our second year, 20 acts tried out, and last year, 34. I think that all of us who live in the Valley have been blown away by the number of talented people we have here.”
“The Valley’s Got Talent,” part of the Sunbury River Festival, will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Shikellamy High School auditorium.