Fun For All At Talent Night


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Gianna Cordasco and Alonna, Brielle and Jenna Nesto dance up a storm.
Gianna Cordasco and Alonna, Brielle and Jenna Nesto dance up a storm.

Saturday night was the annual Talent Night sponsored by the Spotlight Players Parents Association. It brought out performers young and old, and we imagine that some of them will be names you’ll hear a lot of in the future.

Sydney Larkey kicked off the night with a rendition of the national anthem that should have her in demand at many sporting events in town; Brooke Cooney also impressed with her unaccompanied singing of “Teardrops On My Guitar.” There were elementary school performers, like dancers Maya Altman and Julianne French, and Jake McConnachie did a mean karaoke-fueled cover. They rolled a grand piano onto stage and Olivia Schechter played “Don’t Stop Believing”.

Most of the night was devoted to singing and dancing–but not all. Sandy Guerrero, Serena Warner, Jordan Warner showed off what they had learned at the Verona martial arts studio Guerrero Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. (Don’t mess with these young ladies!) And Billy Gault displayed magic skills he reportedly learned from a Forest Avenue crossing guard. He even called some of the kids in the audience up to assist in his act, something that’s a feat for even a professional magician.

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Kelly Arney, Nicole Cameli, Deja Lighty, Jenna O’Connell and Ivy Vega danced in unison, and some of the girls, plus Jane Szybist and Kenneth Vega came back later for a tap dance. Sisters Dominique and Nicolette Marino–performing as Peace and Love–showed serious vocal power with “Single Ladies”. And we suspect there was more than a bit of cheerleader training behind the performances of Liana Calandra, Talia Calandra and Marissa Ruhno, and a later group comprised of Alonna, Brielle and Jenna Nesto and pal Gianna Cordasco. Kevin Ohlweiler, who was one of the night’s stage hosts (with Fil Babalievsky), did Hairspray‘s “Welcome To The 60s” with Cara McGinley, Patrick O’Brien and Shannon Garner, and you can guess who played which roles.

The kids did let a few grownups share the stage. Willy Burgos sang “Stand By Me” and “Tonight I Fell In Love”, while Marsha Schreier, who’s going to be the musical director of the next SPPA production, shared one of her own compositions and “At Last”.

But the show closed with a bang–more precisely the VHS band Feedback. Performers Adam Casner, Joe Cordasco, Giancarlo Cordasco and Kyle Thomas did two numbers, one they wrote and another from JET, to a rousing reception from the crowd.

Verona Township Manager Joe Martin indicated recently that he intends to have a kids concert at the Verona Pool this summer. He might want to check out the clips on our YouTube page for some talent.

And mark your calendars for March 4, 5, and 6. The SPPA will be back at VHS with “Back To The 80s”. Fil Babalievsky promises that Michael Jackson will make an appearance.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]



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