Sunday, May 04, 2014



The population sign shows just over 700 people live in the small town my family traveled to last night. We drove high into forest rimmed roads that twisted and twisted for miles with few homes or towns. It took over an hour to reach our destination.

Our group included 3 little kids, two parents and two grandparents. We embarked on this trip to watch seven year old Nik perform a musical number on his recorder (like a flute). Nik wore a pin-striped dress shirt and looked excellent. Little brother Pat was also styling like a gentleman, despite his energetic habits of looking for trouble. And 3 year old Bee charmed everyone with her purple-streaked blond hair, deceptively-innocent big blue eyes, velvety prom-styled dress and wicked-cute attitude.

I'm used to going to suburban kid activities like soccer, t-ball and gymnastics. But I hadn't been to a talent show--especially one so far out in the rural mountains, so I didn't know what to expect.

We parked off the main road and entered the Community Hall. I was glad I'd decided to dress up at the last minute as others shined in their best clothes. One model-thin young woman wore a tight business suit with her hair-pulled back elegantly, more like a New Yorker at a cocktail party--but later I found out why--she was in costume for one of the acts. A performance that had the audience laughing. But I'll get to that later....

Not only was this event a talent show, but there was a baked goods raffle and ice cream social. Count me happy! Who can resist ice cream? It was served between acts. And those raffled pies, cakes and cheese cake were raffled off for $50-$125.

Soon the lights dimmed...and the performances begin!!

The first few were what proud parents expect. A gorgeous blond girl (think Taylor Swift). If Simon from American Idol were judging he might have been harsh for some off-key notes but her confidence and grace wowed the audience. She belted out a song like a big star in a small sky.

Next came the little kids (including our own amazing Nik). Cute little kids with lots of relatives in the audience to enthusiastically applaud piano keys, ukulele strums and sweet recorder notes. Nik was a little shy but wonderfully composed for a seven year old. And when he bent over in a formal bow after his performance, the audience LOVED him even more.

The next performer shifted the night into a surprising realm of talent. Kellsey was a 20-something, flowing dark-haired beauty with curves...and when she stood on the stage to sing, I thought I was on Broadway or at an opera. Her voice was larger than the stage, the room, the town. She belted out a song from Phantom of the Opera that had the audience standing up for an ovation. So what's she doing hidden away in a mountain town? Get out to Broadway, Kellsey!

The next singer, a spunky country singer sang a bouncy song called "Dead Skunk." As someone who travels on country roads often, dead skunks are a familiar rural perfume.

The lights went out and movement rumbled from behind the stage--then four black-lit figures looking like shadows with only stick-figure shapes glowing from costumes that seemed made of glow sticks. And when they turned around to dance, their backsides glowed with circle butts, which they booty-shook to bursts of laughter. Very funny dance.

Lots of creativity and hometown support for little kids. I was impressed but figured that the opera singer was a fluke, that everything else would be the average talent show fair. But then the next singer stepped up to the piano and sung an original song she'd written herself which was bouncy and crafted with the skill of a pro; uplifting and sweet like an Elton John tribute to Disney.

We left a little early due to little kids falling asleep or crawling under the table, so the last act I watched was a definite "finale" in humor. A skit of "Jeopardy" in a small mountain town. Each "contestant" portrayed a stereotype of country residents. The elegant woman spouting off NPR, the New Age free-spirit, the savvy grandma and the good-old gal who loves to drink "cold ones." Very funny questions and crazy answers. I loved how everyone made fun of their own stereo-types, and how well rehearsed they were, too.

So in closing, all I can say is that all those America Talent Shows on tv, should look closer into the rural towns, even if it means driving for hours and miles, through wooded, curvy roads. The talent is amazing (including our Nik).

1 comment:

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

That sounds like a very sweet evening. Kids can be so charming when they perform for an audience.