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Darien Arts Center Crowns Six Winners at Darien’s Got Talent

posted Jun 27, 2016, 8:13 AM by Darien Arts Center   [ updated Jun 27, 2016, 8:14 AM ]

In an unprecedented showcase of talent, twenty finalists from Darien and neighboring towns gave it their all onstage, in the Darien Arts Center’s 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, making the selection of winners a difficult one.

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. After much deliberation, six winners were chosen from the adult and children’s categories and were given their awards by the DAC’s Co-President Pam Heckel.

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”. DAC Co-President Dana Fead and Executive Director Amy Allen thanked sponsors, producers and the crowd for their support, and invited all to enjoy the Darien Arts Center’s offerings.

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, Carolyn's Absolutely Fabulous Events, Chocolate Works, Darien Butcher Shop, Fjord Fisheries, Four Forks, Michael Joseph's Catering, Palmer’s, Rowayton Pizza, Atria, Whole Foods, Panera, Trader Joe's, and Crunch Fitness.

Baywater Properties, Dana Fead, Realtor, EastCoast Irrigation, the Eenkema van Dijk family, Goodnow Investment Group, Darien Rowayton Bank and Andrew Stefanou Salon and Spa generously sponsored the fundraiser, which supports the DAC’s efforts in providing unique opportunities for all ages in dance, visual arts, music and theatre. For more information about the Darien Arts Center, which is located at 2 Renshaw Road, behind Town Hall, visit darienarts.org or call (203) 655-8683.

Darien’s Got Taste Added to Darien’s Got Talent

posted Jun 16, 2016, 7:19 AM by Darien Arts Center   [ updated Jun 16, 2016, 11:06 AM ]

When it comes to community support, not only does Darien have talent, but Darien’s got taste, too. In a show of support for the Darien Arts Center’s primary fundraiser, Darien’s Got Talent, area businesses have contributed a stellar array of culinary delights to an exclusive after party, appropriately dubbed, Darien’s Got Taste. Entry to the party at the conclusion of Darien’s Got Talent, will be granted to VIP ticket holders and sponsors, who can enjoy the outstanding buffet of local cuisine, celebrate with the winners of the talent competition and listen to musical entertainment by pianist Bob Rissolo.

Donors to the Darien’s Got Taste celebration, which takes place in the Little Theatre at Darien High School, include Cesco’s Trattoria, Amanda Smith Caterers, Bodega Taco Bar, Carolyn's Absolutely Fabulous Events, Chocolate Works, Darien Butcher Shop, Fjord Fisheries, Four Forks, Michael Joseph's Catering, Palmer’s, Rowayton Pizza, Atria, Whole Foods, Panera, Trader Joe's, and Crunch Fitness.

Darien’s Got Talent takes place at Darien High School on June 25th at 7 p.m. Local support for the DAC’s fundraiser will enable the organization to continue to enrich the community with arts education and live theatre. In addition to general admission ticket sales and People’s Choice online voting (where the public can cast votes at darienarts.org for favorite contestants until June 24th), significant contributions can be made through VIP ticket sales and sponsorships. Premium ticket options include up-front seating to the finals show in addition to entry to the Darien’s Got Taste after party. All tickets are available at darienarts.org.

Finalists competing in Darien’s Got Talent are: Isabella Bardos, Ella Bates, Lauren Blake, Taylor Felt, Clare Noelle King, Rica Monaghan, Ben Roland, Sommer Schmidt, Quinn Taylor, Tom Giles, Katherine Gunya, Zach Heyde, Karen Joyce Miller, Riley Wells Thrush, a musical group of Laura Anglade and Grant Morro, a musical group of Paul Nelson and Jess Wilkes, a singing group of Grady Allen, Carson Stewart, and Jordan Kalonydes, a rock band consisting of Ben Teolis, Adeline Teolis, Rodrigo Galavis, and Diego Ferreira, and a dance group consisting of Donyae Carter-Smith, Christopher Thigpen, Toni Yarrell, Alexis Askew, Najheera Miller, Cedric Thigpen, Domonique Carter-Stanley, Morgan Henry, Le'Ashia Langley, David Daniel, Davante Thomas, and Elisha Yarrel.

The impressive panel of finals judges for the talent competition includes 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 native, and Broadway and Hollywood director, BT McNicholl will act as Master of Ceremonies. Baywater Properties, Dana Fead, Realtor, East Coast Irrigation, the Eenkema van Dijk family, Goodnow Investment Group, the Andrew Stefanou Salon and Spa, and the DAC’s corporate partner, Darien Rowayton Bank generously sponsor the event.

Tickets for Darien’s Got Talent are $35 for adults and $20 for students at darienarts.org. VIP tickets are $125 and include up-front seating and entry to the post show party. Family sponsorships at $500 include 5 VIP tickets and entry to the post show party. Patron sponsorships of $1000 include 2 season tickets to DAC Stage productions in addition to family sponsorship benefits. Darien High School is located at 80 High School Lane. For more information, including how to vote for the Darien’s Got Talent People’s Choice Award, visit darienarts.org or call (203) 655-8683

Star Quality Support for Darien’s Got Talent

posted Jun 13, 2016, 10:28 AM by Darien Arts Center   [ updated Jun 13, 2016, 10:28 AM ]

The Darien Arts Center is gathering first-class support for Darien’s Got Talent, taking place on June 25th at 7 p.m. at Darien High School. Viewed as an exceptional showcase of talent in the community, and a friendly, yet serious competition, it provides a fun way to support a long-standing asset of Darien, The Darien Arts Center. The DAC is celebrating 40 years of enriching the community with visual and performing arts programs, and its major fundraiser elicits emotional commitments and passionate responses from those familiar with it.

Tony-winning Broadway producer, former Darien’s Got Talent judge and Darien resident, Ed Schloss, had this to say, “If you're looking for solid gold plated entertainment, as Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz, ‘There's no place like home!’ Even if it's only forty five minutes from Broadway, there's really no reason to leave your own backyard with all the talent that's on display." And Toni DeCarlo, three-time Darien's Got Talent audition judge, commented, "It was an honor to be asked to judge and (I feel like) we were the winners!! The talent is just superior."

Local business owner, David Genovese of Baywater Properties, a returning sponsor of Darien’s Got Talent, fondly remembers a previous year’s show;  “My wife, Julie, and I walked away from the last Darien’s Got Talent feeling totally blown away. This was one of the most memorable events we have ever experienced in Darien. It was truly incredible to see.”

Other returning sponsors, Andrew and Dee Stefanou, owners of Andrew Stefanou Salon and Spa, are sharing their passion for beauty both inside and out, and will once again, give contestants star-quality glamour for their finals performances. Staff at the salon and spa will expertly provide complimentary hair and makeup services, an invaluable contribution to the evening. Andrew commented, “We love being able to do this for the Arts Center. I can’t think of a better way to support this important organization in town.” Other sponsors providing financial support include Dana Fead, Realtor, EastCoast Irrigation, the Eenkema van Dijk family, Goodnow Investment Group, and the DAC’s corporate partner, Darien Rowayton Bank.

Entertainment professionals contributing their time and expertise as judges include Jane Bergere, producer of Kinky Boots; musician and composer Joel A. Martin; former professional and award-winning New York City Ballet dancer Ashlee Knapp Stewart; author of Nunsense, writer and director Danny Goggin; and John Doelp, Senior Vice President at Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment, a voting member of the Grammys and executive producer for Celine Dion.

Tickets for Darien’s Got Talent are $35 for adults and $20 for students at darienarts.org. VIP tickets are $125 and include front row seating and entry to the post show party. Family sponsorships at $500 include 5 VIP tickets and entry to the post show party. Patron sponsorships of $1000 include 2 season tickets to DAC Stage productions in addition to family sponsorship benefits. Darien High School is located at 80 High School Lane. For more information, including how to vote for the Darien’s Got Talent People’s Choice Award, visit darienarts.org or call (203) 655-8683

People’s Choice Vote Added to Darien’s Got Talent

posted Jun 9, 2016, 7:05 AM by Darien Arts Center   [ updated Jun 9, 2016, 7:06 AM ]

The Darien Arts Center has added a fun new way to be a winner in their talent show, Darien’s Got Talent. In addition to competing on stage for cash prizes, contestants can now compete to help raise money for the DAC. The public is encouraged to vote online at darienarts.org, as many times as they wish, for their favorite contestant(s) in order to elect the winner of the Darien’s Got Talent 2016 People’s Choice Award. The contestant with the most votes will be awarded the People’s Choice Award trophy at the conclusion of Darien’s Got Talent, which takes place at 7 p.m. on June 25th at Darien High School.

Voting for the recipient of the People’s Choice Award is open to all and will remain open until June 24th at darienarts.org. Cost per vote is $1, with a 5-vote minimum, and all proceeds from voting will support ongoing programs at the DAC. All finalists in the competition are eligible for the People’s Choice Award.

Finalists for Darien’s Got Talent and contenders for the 2016 People’s Choice Award are: Tom Giles, Katherine Gunya, Zach Heyde, Karen Joyce Miller, Riley Wells Thrush, a dance group consisting of Donyae Carter-Smith, Christopher Thigpen, Toni Yarrell, Alexis Askew, Najheera Miller, Cedric Thigpen, Domonique Carter-Stanley, Morgan Henry, Le'Ashia Langley, David Daniel, Davante Thomas, and Elisha Yarrel, a musical group of Laura Anglade and Grant Morro, a musical group of Paul Nelson and Jess Wilkes, a singing group of Grady Allen, Carson Stewart, and Jordan Kalonydes, Isabella Bardos, Ella Bates, Lauren Blake, Taylor Felt, Clare Noelle King, Rica Monaghan, Ben Roland, Sommer Schmidt, Quinn Taylor, and a rock band consisting of Ben Teolis, Adeline Teolis, Rodrigo Galavis, and Diego Ferreira.

Baywater Properties, Dana Fead, Realtor, EastCoast Irrigation, the Eenkema van Dijk family, Goodnow Investment Group, Darien Rowayton Bank and Andrew Stefanou Salon and Spa are generously sponsoring the DAC fundraiser.

Tickets for Darien’s Got Talent are $35 for adults and $20 for students at darienarts.org. VIP tickets are $125 and include front row seating and entry to the post show party. Family sponsorships are $500 and include 5 or more VIP tickets and entry to the post show party. Patron sponsorships of $1000 include 2 season tickets to DAC Stage productions in addition to family sponsorship benefits. Darien High School is located at 80 High School Lane. For more information, call (203) 655-8683

The DAC is a nonprofit organization, which offers educational programming in dance, visual arts, theatre and music, as well as special events and live theatre productions by DAC Stage.  The Darien Arts Center is located at 2 Renshaw Road in Darien, behind the Town Hall.

Finalists Announced for Darien’s Got Talent

posted May 25, 2016, 11:57 AM by Amy Allen   [ updated Jun 1, 2016, 7:25 AM by Darien Arts Center ]

The Darien Arts Center has named the 20 finalists from Darien and neighboring towns who will compete in Darien’s Got Talent on June 25th at 7 p.m. at Darien High School. Auditions for the fundraiser took place on May 21 and 22 in the DAC Weatherstone Studio, with almost 60 contestants, ages 10 and older, auditioning for the preliminary judges. Auditioning acts included singers, dancers, musicians, bands, comics and theatrical performers. The chosen finalists will move on to compete for cash prizes in front of a live audience and a panel of accomplished entertainment professionals in the finals show.

The finalists for Darien’s Got Talent in the adult category are: Tom Giles, Katherine Gunya, Zach Heyde, Karen Joyce Miller, Riley Wells Thrush, a dance group consisting of Donyae Carter-Smith, Christopher Thigpen, Toni Yarrell, Alexis Askew, Najheera Miller, Cedric Thigpen, Domonique Carter-Stanley, Morgan Henry, Le'Ashia Langley, David Daniel, Davante Thomas, and Elisha Yarrel, a musical group of Laura Anglade and Grant Morro, a musical group of Paul Nelson and Jess Wilkes, and a singing group of Grady Allen, Carson Stewart, and Jordan Kalonydes. Finalists in the children’s category are: Isabella Bardos, Ella Bates, Lauren Blake, Taylor Felt, Clare Noelle King, Rica Monaghan, Ben Roland, Sommer Schmidt, Quinn Taylor, and a rock band consisting of Ben Teolis, Adeline Teolis, Rodrigo Galavis, and Diego Ferreira.

Judging the finals are renowned jazz musician Joel A. Martin, Broadway writer and director Dan Goggin, former professional ballet dancer Ashlee Knapp Stewart, music industry producer John Doelp and producer of Kinky Boots, Jane Bergere. Broadway and Hollywood director, producer and writer, BT McNicholl will act as Master of Ceremonies for Darien’s Got Talent, and accomplished musician and composer Chris Coogan is musical director. Director Carole Claps returns to lead the production. Baywater Properties, Dana Fead, Realtor, East Coast Irrigation, the Eenkema van Dijk family, Goodnow Investment Group, Darien Rowayton Bank and Andrew Stefanou Salon and Spa generously sponsor the DAC fundraiser.

Tickets for Darien’s Got Talent are $35 for adults and $20 for students at darienarts.org. VIP tickets are $125 and include front row seating and entry to the post show party. Family sponsorships start at $500 and include 5 or more VIP tickets and entry to the post show party. Darien High School is located at 80 High School Lane. For more information, call (203) 655-8683. The DAC is a nonprofit organization, which offers educational programming in dance, visual arts, theatre and music, as well as special events and live theatre productions by DAC Stage. The Darien Arts Center is located at 2 Renshaw Road in Darien, behind the Town Hall.

Broadway and Hollywood Producer BT McNicholl Announced as M.C. for Darien’s Got Talent

posted May 2, 2016, 9:05 AM by Darien Arts Center   [ updated May 2, 2016, 9:06 AM ]

Darien native and DHS graduate BT McNicholl has been announced as Master of Ceremonies for Darien’s Got Talent, the Darien Arts Center’s talent competition taking place on June 25. 

A Broadway and Hollywood director, producer and writer,  BT McNicholl was acting in his early days at Middlesex Middle School and continued on to pursue his love for the stage in Theatre 308 at Darien High. He is celebrating his 25th year in an entertainment career that spans Broadway and Hollywood as well as international productions, regional theatres, and family-themed shows as a director, producer and writer. Member of the creative team for a dozen Broadway shows, including the Tony-winning hits Cabaret, Spamalot, and Billy Elliot, McNicholl has been the Associate Director for master mentors including Mike Nichols, Sam Mendes, Rob Marshall, James Lapine and Jerry Zaks. He has worked as an acting coach on Oscar-nominated films and staged record-breaking runs of American musicals in Paris, Madrid, Seoul and Sydney. A published playwright and BMI-award winning lyricist, his musicals have been seen at Madison Square Garden and all across the country. He won the Australian "Tony" award (the Helpmann) as "Best Director" and staged celebrated productions for The Goodspeed Opera House and Walnut St. Theatre, among others. A former Development Consultant for MGM's theatrical division, McNicholl spent three years at the Shubert Organization and two summers at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center. In addition to creating family-themed shows for Disney and Busch Gardens, he is the former Producing Artistic Director for the Stamford's Palace Theatre. 

BT shared his excitement about his upcoming role in his hometown, "Darien has always been supportive of its talent... and there is plenty of it! We can't wait to bring these talented artists together for an unforgettable evening."

Masterful Composer and Pianist Returns as Musical Director for Darien’s Got Talent

posted May 2, 2016, 8:55 AM by Darien Arts Center   [ updated May 2, 2016, 8:57 AM ]

Accomplished composer, pianist and choir director, Chris Coogan returns as musical director for Darien’s Got Talent, the Darien Arts Center’s talent competition taking place on June 25. The popular fundraising event features cash prizes for adults and children, and accomplished entertainment industry professionals as judges for auditions and finals. 20 finalists will compete for top prizes in front of a live audience at Darien High School.
Coogan, a multi-talented entertainer whose career reflects his passion for jazz and gospel music, brings his own indisputable musical talent to the DGT finals show. He has lead the Chris Coogan Quartet for 10 years and has performed as a jazz musician with the late Sal Salvador, Bette Midler, Donna Summer, Paul Newman, Whoopie Goldberg, Jo Ann Woodward, Alec Baldwin, Gene Wilder, Larry Coryell, Dave Liebman, Harold Danko, Ronnie Spector, James Naughton and Phoebe Snow. He has also arranged for Teo Maceo, producer for the late Miles Davis. He has appeared on television’s Celebrity Jeopardy and the Arsenio Hall Show, and has performed at Manhattan’s Blue Note and the Montreaux Jazz Festival. Coogan is also a successful choral director, writer and arranger of gospel music. He founded the good News Gospel Choir in 1993, a 50-voice, multi-denominational singing group that performs on weekends at churches, festivals, fundraisers and community events.
2016 marks the third year that Coogan will be lending his support and talent to contestants of all ages at Darien’s Got Talent. 

Our Next Darien's Got Talent!

posted Feb 11, 2014, 9:25 AM by Darien Arts Center   [ updated Nov 12, 2015, 7:31 PM ]

Polish up your acts this fall and stay tuned for details about Darien’s Got Talent 3 slated for spring 2016!

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