A new category for bands and ever younger performers will be featured at the fourth annual Valley’s Got Talent competition at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, set for Aug. 30-31.
“The large majority of this group is between the ages of 12 and 19,” said Sarah Ortega, the competition’s coordinator. “You’re going to be blown away.”
This year’s competition features 27 acts vying for a $1,500 grand prize and $750 prizes in the categories of vocal, band, dance, instrumental and specialty. Also up for grabs is the $500 Paul M. Tischer Classical Music Scholarship.
Once again, Emmy Award-winning casting agent and Modesto native Robert Ulrich (“Glee”) and his wife, actress and Ripon native Kim Johnston Ulrich (“Passions”), will be among the judges.
Ulrich’s participation means a good performance at the contest can lead to greater things. The first Valley’s Got Talent winner – Lindsay Pearce – ended up on the Oxygen TV reality competition “The Glee Project,” on which Ulrich mentors and judges, and ultimately landed a guest role on Fox’s “Glee,” which Ulrich casts. Pearce soon will have a guest role on Lifetime’s “Drop-Dead Diva,” which Ulrich’s company also casts.
Ortega said it’s always easy to find performers for the contest. “There is so much talent here that I have barely tapped it,” she said. “After auditions, I found another 10 to15 performing acts that could have easily been in Valley’s Got Talent. It just seems that we’re very rich culturally in this county.”
Ortega received 127 submissions of DVDs or recordings from performers, and invited the best to live auditions. That group was whittled down to the final 27.
The winner will be chosen by the panel of eight judges, with the audience that attends on Aug. 30 serving as the ninth vote. The other judges are Gallo Center board President Marie Gallo, Gallo Center board Chairwoman Britta Foster, Gallo Center Arts Education Director Jim Johnson, Modesto Bee publisher Eric Johnston, KHOP’s MoJo Roberts and Sierra Repertory Theatre Artistic Director Scott Viets.
As a special treat, all the past Valley’s Got Talent winners but Pearce will return for a joint performance. 2011 winner singer and pianist Francesca Bavaro and 2012 co-winners Stop Motion Poetry and the Sensations will perform a medley of songs.
Ortega said the show should appeal to people ages 3 to 80. “I think people will be genuinely shocked at the level of professionalism that they’ve got in an amateur talent market here,” she said, adding that there are many fine music and performing arts instructors in the area.
People should attend the show to check out the state of Modesto talent, Ortega said. “The No. 1 thing is come out to see your best friends, your neighbors, your grocery clerks and your students and celebrate their artistry,” she said. “It’s an evening of pure family fun for everybody.”
Contestants are:• VOCAL: Shelly Bort, Carmen Fausto, the Johansen High School Viking Singers, Desiree Juanes, Kodi Mattox, Jessica Neuffer, Liliana Peau, Megan Robertson, Teneisha Runner, Joseph Rykert
• DANCE: The Calcium Kids, Chez Paris, The Juline Regional Youth Ballet, Mirage, Naina & Manpreet, The Blair Pope Savage Crew
• INSTRUMENTAL: Branden Lee Cravalho, The Dazzling Duo, Khalil Williams
• SPECIALTY: The Cuptastic Quartet featuring Eliana Roberts, Drew Monson & An Elderly Woman He Is Related To, Dale Mulhern
• BAND: Alida & The Geronimos, High Voltage Band, Melydian, Josh Rosenblum Band, Steelin’ The Beat