Fifty contestants sign up for ‘So You Think Kent Has Talent’ competition

Fifty contestants signed up to compete in the first "So You Think Kent Has Talent" competition. Those contestants will participate in a preliminary competition in front of judges May 7 to determine the 15 finalists for the show at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21 at the Kent-Meridian High School Performing Arts Center.

Fifteen contestants

Fifteen contestants

Fifty contestants signed up to compete in the first “So You Think Kent Has Talent” competition.

Those contestants will participate in a preliminary competition in front of judges May 7 to determine the 15 finalists for the show at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21 at the Kent-Meridian High School Performing Arts Center.

“I was thrilled,” said Tonya Goodwillie, event organizer, about the number of entries. “They came in kind of slow but then the last two weeks they poured in and we had 15 more in the final two days.”

The talent contest has three age categories:

Youth (12 and younger), Teen (13-19) and Adult (20 and older). The preliminary qualifications will narrow the contestants down to five acts per age division.

“We’ve got at least 10 in youth, 10 in adult and the rest are teens,” said Goodwillie, who operates the Allegro Performing Arts Academy and came up with the idea to run a Kent talent contest.

The acts include a few dancers and rappers but most are singers.

“There is a wide variety of talent,” Goodwillie said. “It’s not anything you see anywhere else with all of the ages and all the types of talent. And with Kent businesses sponsoring it and benefits going to Kent Youth and Family Services, it’s truly a Kent event.”

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.

The preliminaries will be in front of four judges at the Allegro Performing Arts Academy. Judging criteria will be a point system based on quality of content, presentation and overall entertainment value.

The judges for the preliminaries are 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.

Each act has a time limit of four minutes with one minute of set up time allowed.

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

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.

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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