MORRISTOWN, NJ - Morristown's got talent! And on January 4th, such talent from all walks of life came to the auditorium of Morristown High School for the Morristown Onstage Media Day.
Back in December, auditions for Morristown Onstage occurred for the annual talent show, amounting to 15 entertaining acts, singing, instrument playing, dancing or all the above.
“I’m playing an original song today and I’m just excited to be here and perform on this stage for all of you,” said singer/pianist Jonathan Freschl, from Morristown.“Morristown Onstage is going to be a fun event with a good cause. That’s always a plus in this town.”
The talent show acts as the premier fundraiser for the Morris Educational Foundation (MEF); a 501(c)(3) corporation that strive to enhance educational opportunities for over 5,200 students in all 10 schools of the Morris School District, from preschool through high school.
“We’re so excited to be part of this opportunity and look forward to the show,” said Morristown resident Laura Ava Blanche, who will be singing a duet of “The Prayer” by David Foster and Carol Bayer Sager, with her good friend Zachary Wheeler. “My daughter’s in the Morris School District and this is my way to give back to the Morris Educational Foundation that does great things for all children.”
Morristown Onstage has been held for about 13 years and has since raised over $845,000 to support projects and initiatives at local Morris schools. About $175,00 was collected for MEF from last year alone and all performers and event organizers have a goal to set a record amount next month.
“Morristown Onstage is one of the most fun nights in town,” said Melanie Smith, MEF board member and chair of the Morristown Onstage Steering Committee. “It showcases local talent and benefits the Morris School District. For those reasons, it is an awesome event and the talent this year is fantastic! I can’t wait for February.”
The main show of Morristown Onstage intends to take place at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, located on 100 South Street, on February 26th. Tickets for this show can be purchased through the Arts Center’s website at https://www.mayoarts.org/.
Four distinguished arts and entertainment professionals will be judging the show. This year, there will be prizes for the best performers, including a $1,000 for first place for contestants ages 19 and over, a $1,000 for first place for contestants ages 18 and under, a $500 award for the “Audience Choice” Winner, which is a “text-to-vote” at the end of the show, and a $250 Rossoff Rising Star Award for talent training chosen by the Morristown Onstage Steering Committee.
“I haven’t auditioned for something like this in eight years and it’s a great experience,” said Morristown singer Olivia Restivo, who sang a cappella version of “Nothing But the Water” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. “I just glad I was accepted into this show and I love getting involved in the community with all its festivals and live music around town. To give back to the schools is awesome to me.”
Morristown Medical Center Atlantic Health System shall be a headline sponsor for Morristown Onstage. Not only that, Tara Bernie, Emmy Award-winning senor correspondent on DailyMail TV and five time Emmy nominee as a senior producer at Access Hollywood, will again be serving as the Master of Ceremonies.
This year’s performers in the 18 and under category include Bobbi Baitey (singer), Bobby Becht (singer), Dylan Sarah Klug (singer), Zion Pearson (singer), the Shining Starz Dance Academy, Maggie Waldron (singer) and Cooper Weil (singer). And this year’s performers in the 19 and over include Laura Ana Blanche & Zachary Wheeler (duet), Neillea Dee (guitar/singer), David Gallagher & Ross Chu (musical performance), Jonathan Freschl (piano/singer), LUCA (guitar/duet), Olivia Restivo (singer) and Jennifer Wydra (piano). And during Media Day, every single one of them were already showing how hungry they are to win the competition.
Zion Pearson sings below
“When we were told that we were auditioning, I said ‘No way,’” said Elena Morales, a 16-year-old junior from Morristown High School, who will be dancing with her classmates of the Shining Starz Dance Academy (see video below). “I really didn’t think we would be a finalist, but when they announced that we were in, I was like ‘Oh my gosh!’ I am a little nervous, but excited, and to see our names on the posters is awesome.”
“It feels amazing to perform here today,” said 15-year-old Maggie Waldron, from Morristown.“I’ve been auditioning for Morristown Onstage since I was eight, and now I finally got in. It’s also great to contribute to the community in the best way possible through our talents.”
Waldron performed the Broadway song “Dead Mom” from the musical Beetlejuice. (see video below)
To learn more about the Morris Educational Foundation, visit their website at https://www.morrisedfoundation.org/.
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