By DELLA HETHCOX
University of Mary Washington students cheered on as friends danced, sang and performed tricks at the first ever “Mary Wash’s Got Talent” competition hosted by the University Programming Council.
Dodd Auditorium filled with anticipation as friends and family gathered to cheer on their favorite acts Friday, March 27. A total of 15 student acts contended for the cash prizes.
The audience was able to interact with the show by voting via texts, winning multiple raffle drawings and participating in a dance off during breaks between contestants.
The hosts, Alex Privitt, junior history major, and Mustakil Ali, sophomore business administration major, played off the audience’s energy, providing yet another form of entertainment during the show with their witty banter and strong chemistry.
During the breaks between contestants, Ali and Privitt gave away various prizes, including t-shirts, chocolate, movies and a karaoke machine.
Lauren Preaskorn, a sophomore historical preservation major, attended the competition to support one of her residents who is one half of the comedy duo The Understudies.
“I thought everyone was really impressive,” said Preaskorn. “It took a lot of guts to get up and perform in front of that big of an audience. They have my kudos.”
Although Preaskorn was impressed with all the contestants, one act stood out.
“I liked The Understudies because [their act] was cute and well done, and most importantly, they sang about a cubicle of love,” said Preaskorn, referencing the act’s rendition of “The Temp and the Receptionist.”
Mingled between traditional talents, such as singing and dancing, were more unexpected talents, such as magic tricks performed by Michael DiZio, a junior Spanish major, and elaborate yo-yo tricks performed by freshman Daley Pagano.
Freshman English major Rachel Finston, the sole stand-up comedy act of the night, told the audience, “I like to make people feel uncomfortable.”
Finston made the audience laugh with jokes about religion, family life and her experience as an English major.
Arlee Pearlswig, a sophomore French major and a member of the technical staff at Dodd Auditorium, found the performance entertaining even though she worked the event.
“It made me happy to see that there were acts other than just singing and dancing,” said Pearlswig. “The gentleman with the yo-yo’s showed a unique special talent that had myself and my co-workers absolutely mesmerized.”
Several students dedicated their songs in memory of Scott Houk, a fellow performer and student who passed away suddenly last week. Gwen Levey, a sophomore theatre and music double major, originally planned to sing a different song but later decided to sing one of Houk’s favorite songs, which proved to be an emotional tribute to the late student.
Only five of the contestants were awarded the cash prizes. Senior theatre major Judi Jackson won the creativity award, along with $50. Two third place prizes, $100 each, were awarded to Ford and Pagano. The Understudies scored second place and a prize of $200. In first place, with an award of $500, was sophomore Frank Kear.
The audience found a clear favorite in the break dancing skills of Kear, who said he has not performed recently.
“I haven’t danced in a year, so it’s good to be back on stage,” said Kear.
After winning his award, Kear’s large group of fans and friends congratulated him.
“I don’t really know what to say,” said Kear. “I was shocked that I won. I didn’t expect it at all.”
As for his prize, he said it will probably go toward Chipotle and new clothes.
“I think the event was fantastic, there were great acts, and the hosts were actually funny,” said Preaskorn.