By Kerry Breen
The Morris Education Foundation (MEF) held its 11th annual talent show, Morristown ONSTAGE, on Feb. 28, showcasing amateur talent from Morristown, Morris Plains and Morris Township.
Liv Zito, who sang Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” won in the 19 and Over category, winning a $1,000 cash prize. In the 18 and Under category, dance group We Need Love with Ally Are and Dance Innovations of Chatham performed a dance to Are’s inspirational poem “We Need Love,” taking home another $1,000 cash prize. Are had previously won as a solo poet in 2015.
C.J. Ryan, from the 18 and Under bracket, won a $500 Audience Award which was chosen via text voting in the theater. The seventh grader performed a sung version of Demi Lovato’s “Tell Me You Love Me.” The Rossoff Rising Star Award, a $250 scholarship to be used to further artistic education, was awarded to June Soriano, who performed Adele’s “All I Ask.”
All four winners also took home a Seiko watch. One lucky audience member, unnamed, also won a $1,000 shopping spree at Century 21 stores.
Other competitors in the 18 and Under bracket included an acrobatic and dance act by Allison Chong, piano duet by the the Mau Brothers, a band performance by Zap the Moles, a singing performance by Juliette Trumbull, and a singing performance with a piano accompaniment by Jackie Rhoades and Peter Fabiola.
Other competitors in the 19 and Over bracket included a band performance by Nina & the Boyz, a band performance by SideSlam, a band performance by Spare Tire Band, a singing duet by Playful Banter, a singing performance by Gabrielle Trumbull, and a singing performance with a piano accompaniment by Shayna Atkinson.
The event was judged by four arts and entertainment professionals, including producer Eileen Bernstein, singer/songwriter Brendan Fletcher, producer and creator Bill Franzblau, and playwright, composer, and lyricist Ali Skylar. Tara Bernie served as show host and Master of Ceremonies for the fifth year in a row.
More than 60 acts auditioned for the show.
“The Morris Educational Foundation is looking to break another record this year with Morristown ONSTAGE,” Debbie Sontupe, executive director of the Morris Educational Foundation had said. “We are grateful to all our sponsors, event guests, playbill advertisers, talent, and judges for helping us create another magical evening. A huge thank you as well to our partners at the Mayo Performing Arts Center; being able to host the event at such a terrific venue is such a thrill.”
The event also featured a preview performance of the Morristown High School Theater Department’s spring musical “Anything Goes.”
“The real winners of the evening are the students and teachers of the Morris School District, who are the true beneficiaries of the community’s generous support,” Sontupe continued.
The theme of the evening was “Strong Schools = Strong Community,” and the sold-out event was held at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. The headline sponsor for the event was Morristown Medical Center.
“We are proud to again partner with the Morris Education Foundation on this wonderful event celebrating our community’s talent,” said Dr. Trish O’Keefe, president of Morristown Medical Center, in a press release prior to the event. “The same way that this year’s theme of Morristown ONSTAGE is ‘strong schools equal a strong community,’ Atlantic Health System believes that healthy schools equal a healthy community.”