MORRISTOWN, NJ - And the Morristown Onstage winners are....Treble Threat, Julianna Belles, Jay Phatak, and Shannon Melody Burns.
The 15 finalists selected to compete in this year’s Morristown on Stage took to the stage on March 1 in hopes of becoming this year’s winner. Organized by the Morris Educational Foundation, this local talent show has been the biggest fundraiser for the MEF for the past 10 years.
Hosted by Tara Bernie, the Emmy nominated Senior Field Producer for NBC’s Access Hollywood and Morristown resident, this year’s 10th Anniversary Show featured a diverse group of acts including singers, dancers, bands and even one comedian. Supporters of the show gathered before the show to be interviewed by Bernie on the show’s red carpet.
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One contestant who had a large group of fans gathering on the red carpet was 11 year old Shannon Melody Burns.
“We are here to see our friend Shannon who we are in school with. She sings a lot in chorus and will be performing in the play this weekend,” said her friend Elsie Humbert.
Although Burns started out nervous, she took home this year’s Rising Star Award. She was able to overcome her nerves and perform without a hitch.
Three other winners were also selected in the Under 18 category, 19 and over category and audience choice. Audience members were able to cast their vote through text message.
Treble Threats who closed out the show with their rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which they not only sang but signed as well, were the winners of this year’s Audience Choice Award. The trio, made up of Morristown High School juniors Nile Birch, Anna Skelton, and Victoria Fanning, are all members of the MHS drama club and have been friends for many years.
Taking home the $1000 award in the under 18 category was 17 year old Julianna Belles who sang “On My Own” from “Les Miserables.” Growing up in Morris Plains, Belles has been singing since she was seven years old. She currently attends Morris County School of Technology and hopes to continue singing in college.
The final award for the over 19 category was given to Morristown-based singer/songwriter Jay Phatak who performed Johnny Cash’s classic “Folsom Prison Blues” accompanied by childhood friend Myles Beck.
According to Kim Pistner, chair of the board of trustees of the MEF, this year’s show sold out in just two days.
“This event can only be described as evolutionary,” she said. “In 2008, five MEF board members sat around a kitchen table and launched this event. That year, our performers performed for 00 people and raised $16,000. Tonight our performers will be performing to a sold out crowd of 1319 and we hope to raise over $100,000. That is evolution.”
The Morris Educational Foundation enhances educational opportunities for more than 5,000 students in all 10 schools of the Morris School District. Morristown on Stage is their largest fundraiser of the year.