Near Sellout Crowd Wowed at Menifee's Got Talent Show


The 23-member Heritage High School dance team performs a modern dance during "Menifee's Got Talent.".
City Councilman John Denver looked on as people began filing into the Heritage High School theater Friday night, searching for an empty seat just minutes before show time.

“I’m looking for proof that Menifee has talent,” said Denver, who came back to judge Menifee Arts Council’s fourth talent show. “I want everyone to go home saying, ‘wow.’”           

Denver got what he asked for. The applause alone was loud enough to show that Menifee’s Got Talent blew the audience away.

His wife Linda didn’t get to see the show, but she heard it all from the lobby, where she worked the Arts Council Menifee table.

“The energy coming from the theater is just so exciting,” she said. “We’re so thrilled the community is supporting the talent we have.”

More than 20 performers sang, danced or played an instrument to an audience of almost 500 people. The acts ranged from amateur to professional, and were aged anywhere from 8 to over 70.

Arts Council Menifee board members participated, as well as Kat Sanders (above). Although the show wasn’t a competition, the “most outstanding” acts were recognized. One of the judges, Caren Hansen, knew exactly what impressed her.

“I’m looking for spot-on technique, good expression, stage presence and confidence,” said Hansen, who’s a pianist and performer.

Toward the end of the night, Hansen announced the judges’ favorites. A local hip-hop team won in the group dance category, and a couple of high school saxophone players won best musicians for their instrumental version of “Halo” by Beyonce. Best solo dancer was given to Bell Mountain Middle School student Autumn Jones.

Other performers included 13-year-old guitarist Cole Acosta (right).

Natasha Perry, 20, won in the vocalist category for her rendition of “Think of Me” from “Phantom of the Opera.”
During rehearsal the day before, Perry wasn’t even aware they were giving out awards. When they called her name last night, she could hardly believe it. 

“It was totally unexpected,” she said. “This is the second thing I’ve won in my life, so I’ll add it to my collection.”

Perry said performing and watching others on stage was a good experience she’ll use to help her in the future. 

One of her favorites was 22-year-old Stuart Young (left), who recently moved here from Maine.

“I love seeing all the different acts,” said Young, who played a song he wrote himself. “It’s things like this that make me want to perform.”

A notable performance by Voltage Control ended the show. The local father-son rock band is comprised of 15-year-old guitarist Junior Reed and his dad, Mike, on the drums.

Despite his young age, Junior was listed as a semi-professional guitar player in the program. But that wasn’t much of a surprise last night when he played with the charisma of a rock star.

“It just feels natural,” said Junior, who also served as one of the judges. “I love the interaction between the crowd and the performer, and it’s fun when there’s other people onstage because you feel a bond with them.”

Steve Sanders also shared the stage with a family member. He performed a duet with his wife, Kat, who hosted the show.

Steve spent most of the time working in the technology booth with light and sound volunteers. The Sanders run their own company, Unstoppable Entertainment, and helped direct the show.

From what Steve could hear, the feedback from audience members was overwhelmingly positive.

“On their way out, I heard everyone saying it was a great show and great fun,” he said. “It’s cool when people walk out happy.” 

The arts council hopes to hold next year’s Menifee’s Got Talent at the same venue. To learn more, visit www.artscouncilmenifee.org.

Natasha Perry, 20, took home the award for Most Outstanding Vocalist.

Event coordinator Peter Thorwarth presents awards to (from left) Autumn Jones, Natasha Perry, Uriel Gomez and Tyrell Jones, selected as the outstanding performers of the evening.




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