Talent Abounds At UHS

Everyone knows that Urbana has some of the brightest kids around, but after Thursday night’s talent show, it became apparent to me that Urbana is also home to some of the most talented kids as well. I feel bad for the judges having to choose just one winner for each category! We had six judges, each coming in with some sort of background in performing arts. The judges were grading acts divided into 6 different categories, each with four unique grading points. The categories were, Best Band, Best Vocals, Best Dancer(s), Best Musical Vocal, Best One Woman Band, and Most Unique.

The Best Band winner was a group known as “Rock Bottom,” composed of Sam Shapiro, JP Price, and Adam Abrams. The trio played their version of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. Despite missing a rhythm guitar player for the song, Rock Bottom blew the crowd away with a seemingly perfect rendition of Slash’s bone chilling guitar solo. Even the bassist stepped it up with his own solo. The whole song was great. 10/10, would head bang again. Also competing for best band was The Wilden Days with their original composition “Run from the Rain”. Max Eubinag, Bradly Henry, Rachel Kelly, and Johann Miller preformed an amazing opening act, with harmonizing vocals and beautiful violin pieces. Logan Abernathy and Nick Virnelson rocked out in their version of “Let it Be” by the Beatles, with Nick Sparacino captivating the audience with his piano skills and great mane of hair. Tim Neuland and Ragnar Bjornsson absolutely shredded in their original song “Spaghettio”.

The Best Vocals winner was, of course, Josh Ford, singing John Legend’s “All of Me”. Ford stole the audience’s hearts with his incredible range and emotion. He honestly sounded just like the original song. Megan Schlesinger also was a crowd favorite. She nailed the high notes in “Jesus Take the Wheel,” just like Carrie Underwood herself. It was fantastic.

Best Dance went to Ryan Jones, who showed us all that throwing spinning rifles 20 feet in the air to music is awesome. He did his routine to Sia’s “Chandelier”, and incorporated flags and mock rifles in a really cool performance that had the crowd cheering with every catch he made. UHS Colorguard members Katie Herring, Mia Kim, Esther Stauffer, and Rebecca Wiles also put on an awesome performance with flag throwing as well as some acrobatics. We got to see some great culture from Erin Jones’ Irish dance, as well as Ro Nambiar and Jhanavi Sivakumar “Birth of Indian Fusion”.

Best Musical Vocal deservedly went to Annie Cromwell. Her performance of “Think of Me” by Andrew Lloyd Webber was incredible. Annie amazed us all with her range and presence on the stage. Sarah Robinson also did really well with her lively performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Mis. Sydney Austin set the tone by being the first performance in the Musical Vocal category with “Alone in the Universe”.

All three of the girls who competed for Best One Woman Band were incredible, but Riley Fowler won the judge’s hearts with “People Help the People”. Fowler’s voice beautify accompanied her piano in a performance that won’t soon be forgotten.  Jenna Abrams played a lovely ballad, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis Presley, and Jennifer Bui nailed the haunting vocals from The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun”.

Personally, my favorite category was Most Unique. We had Troy Swift killing it with his song “Impenitent Mind”, as well as mind blowing magic tricks from Ryan Davis and his teleporting friends. There was even a karate kata rearranged to the beat of “Maserati Dreams” with Andrew Courtney demonstrating some awesome high kicks and nun chuck techniques. Points for creativity bud. The winner of most unique, was of course, Seth Rihn with his stand-up comedy routine. Rihn pulled off a great routine, ripping on his own struggles as an Urbana student including bad grades, slacking off, and gaining weight from eating babies.

Everyone did great at the talent show. I enjoyed every act thoroughly. Mr. Sclar even made an appearance with his banjo that made my inner West Virginian want to go shovel coal into a speeding train. It really showed me that when I walk through the halls every day at UHS, I’m surrounded by many gifted and amazing people, and I’m glad to call this place my home.