Powerful performers take the “Rider’s Got Talent” stage

By Sarah Siock

Several show-stopping performances took the stage at Rider’s first-ever virtual student talent show.

The competition, titled “Rider’s Got Talent,” took place on Nov. 6 with eight hopefuls vying to be crowned the winner. Since 2016, “Rider’s Got Talent” was hosted during the university’s welcome week events for the freshman class. This year, the Student Entertainment Council (SEC) opened the competition to the entire campus.

“We decided to bring ‘Rider’s Got Talent’ back because we thought it would be a great way to bring the Rider community together and give students the chance to showcase their talent,” said sophomore arts and entertainment industries management major Madeleine Caccavale, who organized the event as SEC’s live music chair.

The competition kicked off at 7:30 p.m. with celebrity host John “Johnny Bananas” Devenanzio, who is known for his many appearances on the MTV reality competition show “The Challenge.” Devenanzio was joined by three SEC members who served as the student judges of the talent show. Audience members watched the show through a Facebook live-stream where they could interact with the performers using a chat box.

Each competitor was given a chance to impress the judges and then receive feedback on their performance. After the performances were complete, the judges picked three contestants to move into the finals where students voted for the winner. The contestants consisted of popular music singers, slam poets and improv performers.

“I am most looking forward to seeing all the talent that the contestants will bring to the virtual stage. We have really talented students at Rider. This event is a great way to have a fun night despite the restrictions COVID-19 has produced for us this year,” said Caccavale before the competition began.

A standout performer of the evening was junior sports media major James Green, who performed a poetry piece titled “My Rider Sweetheart.”

His poem revolved around developing a crush and not knowing how to properly display his feelings.

“I am very open about my work. I hope that when people see my performance they feel more confident to show their talents. I am performing simply to have fun and entertain people,” said Green.

All of the judges responded positively to Green’s performance and appreciated the humoristic aspects the poem brought.

“There were so many great lines. I laughed at the lines that I could feel coming and then your delivery put it all together,” said “Rider’s Got Talent” judge and senior business management major Goanio Chavarria.

After a short deliberation period, the judges chose the acts that advanced to fight for the audience’s votes. The contestants that moved onto the final round were: Green, freshman business administration major Ragan Yates and sophomore musical theater major Shamiea Thompson.

Audience members were given a link to vote for one of three contestants who they felt deserved to be crowned the “Rider’s Got Talent” champion.

Ultimately, Thompson took home the win with her performance of “I Got Love” from the Broadway musical “Purlie.” Thompson took a unique approach to her performance by reciting a monologue before she sang to give the audience context for the song. Her monologue followed a young woman becoming deeply invested in a relationship after just three days.

“Singing is something that I always do but I wanted to freshen it up with improvisation before the song,” said Thompson. “I saw that majority of the people were singing and I wanted to do something that would stand out.”

As the winner, Thompson will receive a smart TV, which she said will be put to good use.

“This was a very tough competition. Everyone really brought it with each performance being better than the next,” said Devenanzio to wrap up the show.

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