Left to Right:
Adult Winners: 1st Place, Zach Heyde, 2nd Place Tom Giles, 3rd Place, Riley Thrush
Child Winners: 1st Place, Taylor Felt, 2nd Place, Lauren Blake, 3rd Place, Ella Bates
What a night! Twenty finalists from Darien and neighboring towns gave it their all onstage, in our June 25th fundraiser, Darien’s Got Talent! Competing acts from Darien, Westport, Norwalk, Stamford, New Canaan and Greenwich included singers, dancers, and musicians that awed both the audience of 500 at Darien High School and the panel of judges.
Accomplished entertainment judges included Columbia Records/Sony Music Senior Vice President John Doelp, producer of Kinky Boots, Jane Bergere, Broadway writer and director Dan Goggin (Nunsense), former professional New York City Ballet dancer Ashlee Knapp Stewart, and renowned jazz musician Joel A. Martin.
Darien resident Zach Heyde was awarded the first place prize in the adult category for his flawless and delightfully entertaining piano rendition of “Inspector Gadget”. Tom Giles from Cos Cob, another pianist, took 2nd prize in the adult category for his original composition “Swan Song”, and Riley Thrush, from Westport, placed third for her soulful vocal performance of “New York State of Mind”.
Taylor Felt nailed the top prize in the children’s category, with a vocal and piano performance of her mashup of “Alive” and Middle”, while Irish step dancer, Lauren Blake took second prize with her dazzling performance to “Can’t Stop the Feeling”. The poignant vocal performance of “On My Own” by Ella Bates captured third place for the young singer. All winners in the children’s category are from Darien. Taylor Felt received a second award, the DAC’s People Choice Award, for receiving the most online votes and raising the most in the online portion of the fundraiser.
Seasoned director, Carole Claps orchestrated the evening’s performances seamlessly, with the skillful help of Chris Coogan as musical director and BT McNicholl as Master of Ceremonies. During the judges' deliberations, a slideshow of entries from the DAC’s smartphone photo contest, Pic Darien was screened and Darien’s First Selectman, Jayme Stevenson engaged the audience with her own vocal talent, singing, “What A Wonderful World”.
150 guests, including sponsors, winners and judges attended the exclusive post show party, Darien’s Got Taste, enjoying outstanding cuisine, entertainment by pianist Bob Rissolo, and celebrating with winners. Donors to Darien’s Got Taste included Cesco's Trattoria, Amanda Smith Caterers, Bodega Taco Bar Darien, Carolyn's Absolutely Fabulous Events,Chocolate Works of Darien, Darien Butcher Shop, Fjord Fish Market, Four Forks, Michael Josephs Catering, Palmer's Darien, Rowayton Pizza, Atria Darien, Whole Foods Market Fairfield County, Panera Bread, Trader Joe's-Darien,CT, andCRUNCH.
Baywater Properties, Dana Fead, Realtor, East Coast Irrigation, the Eenkema van Dijk family, Goodnow Investment Group, Darien Rowayton Bank and Andrew Stefanou Salon & Spa generously sponsored Darien's Got Talent.
Sincere THANKS to all of our contestants, sponsors, producers, volunteers, judges, Carole Claps, Chris Coogan, and B.T. McNicholl - we could not have done it without YOUR TALENT, and your kind and generous support!
Special thanks to our friends in the media for helping us get the word out: News 12 Connecticut Weather, The Darien Times - local news and sports of Darien, Connecticut,Darienite, The Daily Darien, and Darien, CT Patch.
Darien's Got Talent is not only an important fundraiser for the Darien Arts Center but also a showcase of artistic talent within our community that features accomplished entertainment professionals as judges for the auditions and finals.