On March 2, 2017 the first Coronado’s Got Talent, created by Alan Kinzel of Teles Properties, premiered with a line-up of twenty-six acts performing in front of an audience of 600 people. While it was indeed a thrill seeing just how talented the community is, the most impressive feat of the evening was the fact that all of the net proceeds went directly to the Coronado Schools Foundation, making all of Coronado’s students the big winners!
In early February auditions were held at the Coronado Training Center, and over seventy acts vied for spots in the live show. While Kinzel would have loved it if he could include everyone, time constraints for the live show, of course, made it necessary to pare down the list. Everyone who auditioned received a complimentary Coronado’s Got Talent T-shirt, a gesture that set the tone for the type of talent show Kinzel wanted – one that celebrated a spirit of inclusion and a true sense of community.
Some of the people who tried out were quite nervous, but Kinzel and his team of audition judges made applicants feel welcome, and put them at ease with their warm smiles and encouragement.
Prior to the live show on March 2nd, performers were invited to walk the red carpet, giving the evening a true Hollywood feel. Even though the show didn’t start until 7:00 pm, people were lined up outside the doors of the Coronado High School Theater well over an hour and half before the show even began! People who hadn’t purchased tickets online in advance added their names to a waiting list just in case there happened to be any last minute changes that would allow them the opportunity to watch the sold out event.
For those people who were unable to procure tickets as well as those who chose to watch it from the comfort of their homes, the live show was presented via live stream on the “Watch Live” link on the Coronado’s Got Talent website. This feature allowed participants’ families and friends the opportunity to watch the show too, which was especially nice since several of the performers have loved ones scattered across the country. Sisters Katie and Madie Collins, who both performed with the Village Elementary act, had relatives in Washington, Oregon, and Illinois watching and cheering as the girls were live on stage! Speaking about the talent show, the girls’ mom, Kris Collins, said, “It’s awesome that this talent show was put together because people who normally wouldn’t ever have a chance to showcase their talents finally have the opportunity to do it now.”
The charismatic Larry Delrose, described as “a well known real estate investor/financier who turned actor, film producer, writer, singer, and storyteller,” was the emcee of the live show. He did a phenomenal job engaging the performers and getting feedback on each act from the judges, the whole time injecting bits of humor to calm the nerves of those on stage.
Delrose kicked off the evening’s festivities by introducing Village Elementary’s third grader Grace Dabbieri, a remarkable student who is blind, to sing the National Anthem. Grace’s mom Julie Dabbieri was elated that her daughter had this opportunity, sharing, “Grace was super excited to be singing the National Anthem, and we were so proud of her! She did a great job!”
Both the live show audience as well as the live stream audience were able to vote for their favorite performances. For just $1.00 per vote, fans could text GIVE to a local number, and all 3,000 of those texted votes also directly went to the Coronado Schools Foundation. At the conclusion of the show, Gabby Slentz was awarded “Fan Favorite” after receiving the most texted votes. Gabby, a Coronado High School student whose military family recently moved here, wowed the crowd with her powerful voice as she sang.
A team of five judges, which included former mayor/AP History teacher at Coronado High School Casey Tanaka, the Food Network’s Melissa d’Arabian, choral and musical director Linda Kullman, Coronado Training Center’s Chief Instructor Dan Boyle, and Commander Michael Cornelius, an active duty military resident as well as Coronado Youth Softball coach, collectively were responsible for scoring performances as well as critiquing them. The three categories used to evaluate each act included stage presence, the quality of the act, and the X factor (audience reactions, entertainment factor, and overall gut feeling about each performance.)
Unlike reality TV talent shows, where judges sometimes offer abrasive commentary, all of Coronado’s Got Talent judges only offered words of inspiration, praise, and genuine respect for each act that graced the stage. It was evident that the judges were just as blown away by the talent as the crowd was. Melissa d’Arabian gushed over fourth grader Katie Moreno’s I Dreamed a Dream from Broadway’s Les Misérables, telling Katie her performance brought to mind Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speech The Man in the Arena because she was so impressed with Katie’s bravery.
Contestants ranged in age from young children to not-so-young-anymore grown ups, which many audience members found especially intriguing. Georgia Ferrell, who attended the event with her son and daughter, said, “It’s cool that it’s not just kids performing. It’s a true community event when it’s all ages.” She laughed as she added, “We’re so used to everything being just for kids.”
While the majority of the acts were vocal performances, there were also some rather surprising talents showcased including Ian Crozier’s yo-yo act, Meghan Grossman’s aerial dancing, and Alex Hurlburt’s jump roping. Several of the acts featured instrumental performances, including a band called The Voyagers, Patricia Fernandez, Keith Prentiss, Melanie Johnson, Kendall Gallo, Bella Grace, Michael Becker, and Lizzy Cameron. The H2A Dance Team Junior and the H2A Dance Team Teen impressed the crowd with their hip-hop moves, and the Silver Strand Dance Crew also showed off their fancy footwork.
The largest act of the evening belonged to the Village Explorers, who came together to form a “dance extravaganza” consisting of 61 Village Elementary students. It was incredible that within the three minutes of allotted time that all 61 students were able to perform to the song Better When I’m Dancing with gymnastics, soccer skills, jump roping, hula moves, and even some hip-hop! PTO President Nicole Ashmore, who was responsible for organizing this huge group of children said, “Working with the Village Explorers over the last five weeks has been inspiring! Four year-olds practiced side-by-side with ten year-olds to make for an unforgettable performance. The students displayed kindness and creativity every step of the way. I could not be prouder of them!”
The vocal performances offered such an eclectic mix from Patricia Fernandez’s Celine Dion hit Power of Love to professor of finance Michael Ladd’s operatic performance. The crowd’s faces all lit up as Ladd began to sing because just from looking at him one would never be able to guess that such an impassioned and deep voice could loom! Signe Shinn brought Italian singer Andrea Bocelli’s music to the stage while military spouse Nicole Dowd brought country singer Loretta Lynn’s hit song You Ain’t Woman Enough to life. Amanda Fink sang Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good and Natalie Lusitana sang one of Disney’s most popular tunes ever, Let It Go, from the hit film Frozen. The variety of musical genres was further highlighted by Village Elementary student Luke Cantrell’s performance of Stitches, a popular hit by Shawn Mendes, contrasted with Keith Prentiss’s acoustic guitar take of the rock song Sweet Child of Mine by Guns and Roses.
The majority of the vocal performances, whether they were renditions of songs known and loved for decades or new favorites, were songs that were familiar, but a few of Coronado’s Got Talent performers showcased songs that they wrote themselves. Talk about a truly talented group! Don’t be surprised if you someday hear that Coronado singer-songwriters Kendall Gallo, Lizzy Cameron, Bella Grace, and Melanie Johnson are walking the red carpet at the Grammy Awards! Each of their songs, while different in its own way, touched the hearts of those in the audience.
JJ and the Juke Joints was the only one of the twenty-six acts listed in the program that did not perform. JJ, a 43 year old active duty sailor, was unfortunately unable to make it to the live show performance because his Navy schedule kept him away from Coronado the night of March 2nd, but, just like all of the other acts, a brief background video which included pictures as well as biographical information, was still shown. Emcee Larry Delrose acknowledged that JJ wasn’t able to attend, and encouraged the crowd to stand for a few seconds and give a round of applause for JJ as well as all other active duty service members. JJ’s absence, while disappointing, was certainly a powerful reminder that Coronado is indeed a military town.
As the judges tallied their scores, those in the audience had a hard time speculating who the winners might be because all of the acts were incredible. As the audience waited patiently for the results, Jennifer Shoemaker, a new resident who attended with her family, shared, “I’m sure glad I’m not a judge because I can’t even come up with my top three favorites! Amazing! It’s wonderful to see such diverse talent.” As she looked around the theater, packed with people of all ages, she noted, “It’s also just as wonderful to see the diversity of the audience. This (gesturing to encompass the whole theater) is Coronado, and this is the very reason why we wanted to move here.”
While the audience waited patiently for the results, a trio known as Girl Power (Carly Copeland-Gordon, Lily Evans, and Swaran Jouhal) entertained the anxious crowd with a final song.
At the end of the show, the top three performances were named. Molly Nilsen was awarded third prize for her stirring Broadway song about Tinkerbell. Judge Michael Cornelius complimented her saying, “You flew away to Neverland, and took us all with you!” Molly said, “It was so incredible tonight! I love performing, and have been doing it since I was eight years old, and it’s just such a great feeling getting on stage.” Fifth grader Meghan Grossman, who was awarded second place, also had a Peter Pan inspired performance with her Lost Boys themed aerial dancing. Of her second place win, Meghan said, “It feels really good! I didn’t expect to win; I expected to just have fun, and that’s what I did! Winning is just a bonus.” First prize went to Coronado Middle School’s Christine Umali, who dazzled everyone with her amazing vocal performance of Someone Like You from the musical Jekyll & Hyde. Christine shared, “I feel really blessed that I won, and it was a really fun experience. I’m so happy, and I had such a great time!”
As he closed the show for the evening, event producer Alan Kinzel declared, “Everyone’s a winner,” and those in the audience agreed wholeheartedly. The inaugural Coronado’t Got Talent brought the community together for a good cause as it celebrated the plethora of hidden talents in the Crown City.
Barbara Terry, who attended with her fourth grade daughter Regan, said, “The people of this community dedicate their hearts and time for their passions, and what a blessing to have a community event to celebrate these talents!”
Abby Lund, whose daughters participated in Village Elementary’s group performance, shared, “What a rich experience it’s been for the kids to participate, to work hard on something with a large group, and to have the chance to come on stage in front of everyone in such a positive setting! It’s been such a unique opportunity for them.” Her second grade daughter Emma agreed, declaring, “It was fun!”
Judge Dan Boyle reflected, “I thought it was a great community event! We had all ages represented. There was a lot of fun and energy here tonight, and I’m very proud of being part of the Coronado community and Coronado’s Got Talent.”
When asked how he felt the inaugural Coronado’s Got Talent went, Alan Kinzel expressed gratitude toward so many people for contributing to the evening’s success. He said, “It was such a magical night with the whole community coming together. Such a feel good night! We raised some money for an extremely important local difference maker, the Coronado Schools Foundation. It was exciting to see the vision become reality, and I am already working on making next year even more special. Thank you to all the judges, emcee Larry Delrose, and Patty Cowan (CEO) and Michelle Gilmore (Director of Development) from the Coronado Schools Foundation for their support. Also thank you to all the people who were there from the start, including Dan and Lori Boyle, my wife Lisa, Larry Delrose, and April Ishmael.”
While the final numbers still haven’t been totaled, Kinzel approximates that Coronado’s Got Talent has netted $10,000, all of which will be donated to the Coronado Schools Foundation. While on stage, CSF CEO Patty Cowan praised Kinzel’s hard work. She said that typically people come to CSF with great ideas about how CSF can and should go about raising money, whereas Kinzel came to CSF with an idea about he could create a talent show to raise money for them. Kudos to Kinzel and his team as well as the generous sponsors and prize contributors for uniting the Coronado community at a fun event that showed everyone just how many talented people call this “island” home!
Sponsors (in alphabetical order):
Prize Contributors (in alphabetical order):