There were times when it wasn’t certain if the 38th annual Spotlight on Talent would take place at all, but the producers of the annual showcase pushed ahead, to make it happen — despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, as a news release puts it: “Expecting maybe half of the usual number of applicants, Heritage Arts Center Association was astounded to find that 150 talented young people weren’t going to let a virus stop them from polishing and sharing their impressive talents with professional judges.”
The performers did that, “even though their parents had to watch via a zoom setup, and the usual audiences of hundreds of community friends were not allowed this year,” the release adds.
As a result, the arts organization gave the performers a way to show off their talents, and awarded nearly $6,000 in cash prizes, trophies and ribbons.
This all happened after the Pasco County School Board canceled all performances in its facilities, including the 900-seat Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel High, where the event is normally held. The center has all of the top-of-the-line technology necessary for this scale of production, according to the news release.
Instead, performers showed off their talents at the fellowship hall of Dade City’s Methodist Church.
The organization followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols, to keep everyone safe, the release says.
“That meant: No audience; no personal microphones; taking hundreds of temperatures; the necessity of 150 waivers signed,” the release notes. It also required moving in a grand piano; wiping down chairs between contestant categories; registering and lining up 150 contestants outside; trying to find covered outdoor space because of the rain, and so on, the release adds.
All of the hurdles were cleared, the release continues: “Nothing could stop the Spotlight team.”
“This team of superheroes were all volunteers – the 15-member board of directors and five producers,” the release says.
Some of those going the extra mile included Barbara Friedman, Laurel Weightman, Michelle Twitmyer, Michael Roberts, Ava Larkin and Lauretta Brown.
Additional support came from about 40 corporate and community sponsors, who donated toward the awards and production costs.
For more information about the annual talent showcase, visit HeritageArts.org.
Spotlight on Talent 2021 winners
Solo Category 1
First place: Amber Luu, Piano
Second place: Annabelle DePolis, musical theater
Third place: Chloe Adams, acrobatic dance
Fourth place: Kennedy Kring, acrobatic dance
Solo Category 2
First place: Linley Bishop, lyrical dance
Second place: Tavin Groomes, dramatic monologue
Third place: Kendall Hill, musical theater
Fourth place: Nikki Lang, piano
Solo Category 3
First place: Abigail Wallace, contemporary dance
Second place: Sofia Acosta, musical theater
Third place: Maelee Scaglione, contemporary dance
Fourth place: Salvador Hernandez, classical guitar
Solo Category 4
First place: Kasey Lang, piano
Second place: Samuel Wu, piano
Third place: Larkin Mainwaring, musical theater
Fourth place: Dylan Pham, piano
Solo Category 5
First place: Katherine Hines, pop vocal
Second place: Ezekiel Richards, jazz dance
Third place: Harley White, musical theater
Fourth place: Kennedy Engasser, spoken word
Solo Category 6
First place: Agnes Hernandez, piano
Second place: Faith Phaller, ballet dance
Third place: Julianna Cova, pop vocal
Fourth place: Rhett Ricardo, musical theater
Group Category 1
First place: Showstoppers, musical theater
Second place: Star Company Apprentices, jazz dance
Third place: Little Stars, Broadway dance
Group Category 2
First place: Star Company, ballet dance
Second place: Showbros and Showstoppers, musical theater
Third place: Broadway Players
Pasco Heritage Scholarship Winner
Agnes Hernandez, piano
Published April 7, 2021