Fifteen contestants earn spots in ‘So You Think Kent Has Talent’ finals

Ten singers, a drummer, a pianist, a dancer and a dance group are among the 15 finalists for the first "So You Think Kent Has Talent" competition.

Nathaniel Zaborac performs with 'Insanity Machine' at the 'So You Think Kent Has Talent' preliminary round Saturday at the Allegro Performing Arts Academy.

Nathaniel Zaborac performs with 'Insanity Machine' at the 'So You Think Kent Has Talent' preliminary round Saturday at the Allegro Performing Arts Academy.

Ten singers, a drummer, a pianist, a dancer and a dance group are among the 15 finalists for the first “So You Think Kent Has Talent” competition.

The individuals and groups were among 50 contestants who competed in front of judges Saturday at the Allegro Performing Arts Academy to earn a spot in the finals at 6:30 p.m. May 21 at the Kent-Meridian High School Performing Arts Center.

“I loved the variety and types of talent,” said Tonya Goodwillie, event organizer. “Even the singers included a variety from acapella and country to Broadway. Everyone was wonderful.”

The finalists are:

Youth Division (12 and younger)

Jacob Bernhard (drums)

Choley Chae (piano)

Joelle Egbert (vocal)

Maria-Viktoria Kovalsy (vocal)

Alvina Ngo (vocal)

Teen Division (ages 13-19)

Brenna Benson (dance)

Brenna Kay O’Farrell (vocal)

“Endless Rhapsody” – Jason Garcia & Shaun Fisher (vocal & guitar)

Kailyn Montieth (vocal)

Mackenzie Visser (vocal)

Adult Division (ages 20 and older)

James Bacher (vocal)

Jeannette Benson (vocal)

Theresa Raleigh (vocal)

Mirei Zaborac (Japanese instrument)

“5,6,7,8 Dance” – Meghna Kapadia, Vinay Kapadia, Juhi Jain, Amit Bhardwaj, Kamal Kalra, Chetan Bhardwaj, Rahul Khyastha, Aditya Saurabh (East Indian folk dancing)

The 15 finalists will perform at the May 21 showcase and compete for the Grand Prize of $1,000. Other cash prizes include $500 for second place overall and $250 for third place overall. Each category winner gets $100. Local businesses are paying the case prizes.

The contest also includes an audience favorite award. Fans can pay $1 per ticket to vote for their favorite. The audience pick will win $50, a McLendon Hardware $25 gift card, Papa John’s Pizza for a year and a $100 Portrait Innovations gift certificate.

All proceeds from the show benefit Kent Youth and Family Services.

Winners at the talent show also will perform June 18 at the Kent International Festival, at the city’s Fourth of July Splash at Lake Meridian and July 8 at Kent Cornucopia Days.

All contestants were required to be Kent residents, students in the Kent School District or employees within the city limits.

The preliminaries were in front of judges Patrick Briggs, executive assistant to the Kent mayor; Mychal Boiser, owner of the Kona Kai Coffee Co.; Dana Ralph, chairwoman of the Kent Arts Commission; and Dave Hobbs, city of Kent youth and teen program coordinator.

Judging criteria included a point system based on quality of content, presentation and overall entertainment value.

“A lot the scores were really close together,” Goodwillie said.

The preliminary judges were glad they had the qualifying round rather than the finals because of the high talent level of the contestants.

“The judges were concerned about how the judges for the finals will even choose a winner,” Goodwillie said.

The judges for the finals will be Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke; Debbie Theisen, campus manager at Kent-Meridian High; Ronda Billerbeck, city of Kent cultural programs manager; Bill Boyce, Kent School Board president; Polly Shepherd, Kent Reporter publisher; and Debbie Ranniger, a Kent City Councilwoman.

Steve Strachan, former Kent Police chief and now the chief deputy of the King County Sheriff’s Office, will serve as master of ceremonies at the finals.

Goodwillie said she came away from the preliminaries impressed by the high level of talent.

“There is a wide variety of talent of all ages,” she said. “I think people who come to the show will be surprised.”

If you go

What: “So You Think Kent Has Talent”

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21

Where: Kent-Meridian High School Performing Arts Center, 10020 S.E. 256th St.

Tickets: $10 at the door; or call 253-813-9630 to reserve

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