Local performers showcased in talent contest

Of the 13 acts at the annual Talent Show, these three performers came out on top. From left are Isaac Sweet, 16, of Guttenberg, Autumn Kivi, 14, of Prairie du Chein, Wis., and Claire Friday, 16, of Guttenberg. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

G&G Living Centers and GD&T hosted their annual talent show on Sunday in the high school gymnasium. Thirteen acts of singing, dancing, and gymnastics kept audience members entertained for the afternoon. Behind the scenes, performers scurried to make last-minute substitutions and react to technical difficulties. 

“We started practicing around 10:41 a.m.,” said ten-year-olds Kayla Kelly and Emma Kulper, just moments before the show began. After a week of practicing a gymnastic dance routine, Kayla’s partner called in sick on the morning of the talent show. Emma stepped up to the plate, and the girls, who study together at the Moser School of Dance, pulled together a routine that had the crowd cheering. “We expect to bring home $100 today!” the two giggled before heading backstage.

Kelly Rutledge and Ben Howard, of White Chili Sauce with a Dash of Panther, opened the show with the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit “Same Love.” With Howard on keyboard, Rutledge voiced the song’s hard-hitting lyrics tackling the issue of gay rights. 

Isaac Sweet followed on piano and vocals, singing “House of the Rising Sun.” The 16-year-old has been taking piano lessons for a decade, and now travels to Luther for those lessons. He took home first place for his talented keying and soulful storytelling. “I chose the song because it kind of relates to my life, and it’s good for my vocal range, too,” said Sweet after receiving his award.

Next up was Crystal Ball, age 14, and Madison Freeland, 14, singing “Terrible Things,” a solemn love story told in clear, young voices. Kayla and Emma tumbled and flipped in pink shirts and braids, and then Crystal Ball returned to the stage for a low and powerful solo. 

Sister Cassie Ball, age 11, and 11-year-old Grace Meier sang the upbeat tune “Grenade.” Heather Crary and Mackenzie Marovets, both 13, performed a lyrical, hip-hop inspired dance to Katy Perry’s “Roar,” a girl power favorite. 

The annual Talent Show is becoming a place for budding entertainers to debut and gain courage, as shown by six-year-old singer Josie Hartwig, who braved the stage for the second year as a contestant. Savannah Meyer and Brooke Crary, both 10, gave each other encouraging smiles during their duet, and Diamond Iverson sang a wistful version of Taylor Swift’s “Back to December.” Dakota Naylor and Harrison Marshall, under the name Fall Risk, rocked electric guitar and vocals on the song “Never Come Back.”

Claire Friday, who earned first prize last year with her vocal performance of “Stay,” returned to the contest as the crowd whooped. With supreme vocal control, Friday sang “Skinny Love,” hitting high notes with power yet lightness. A panel of three judges awarded the sixteen-year-old third place.

Prairie Du Chein’s Autumn Kivi, 14, followed with a confident, charismatic rendition of “At Last,” the 1960s hit made popular by Etta James. Autumn’s passionate singing and audience engagement earned her second place in the competition. “I’ve been singing at the Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon every year since I was four,” Kivi told The Press. “My grandma helped me pick the song.”

G & G provided numerous door prizes, and a bake sale fed those with a sweet tooth. GD&T board president Tom Augustyn commended G & G for their hard work in organizing the contest, and congratulated the performers following the contest. "It was a nice afternoon to spend looking at some local talent," said Augustyn.

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