SHU Community Theatre Hosts Connecticut’s Got Talent

“It’s a really great thing to watch people’s dreams come true,” said Billy Blanks Jr., Talent Recap’s creative director, now partnering with Sacred Heart University’s Community Theatre for Connecticut’s Got Talent.

According to Talent Recap’s website, “Talent Recap seeks to cultivate a platform for fans of similar talent shows across the globe to read, watch, discuss, engage and share their passion with fellow fans.” Partnered with American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and The X-Factor, the platform has nine million subscribers on YouTube.

Three audition shows lead up to the finale on Dec. 18.

“Each audition is its very own talent show,” said Blanks. “You’re seeing 8-20 people with different talents get up and perform.”

Only six contestants from each audition move on to the finale after the judges and viewers cast their votes.

According to Blanks, the judges are industry veterans. Talent Recap strives to make it community-based by finding qualified people to serve as judges. Connecticut politicians have been involved, along with individuals in the music industry. Tom Salta, the composer of the Halo Games, was a judge for one season.

“When we first started the show, it was originally just Connecticut, and then all of a sudden we had people driving up from Mississippi, from Florida, from all these different places, because people were hearing about it,” said Blanks.

On Nov. 20, they had a contestant who came from Georgia to sing.

“He stopped the show. Everybody went crazy. It was phenomenal,” said Blanks. “Georgia is blowing up because they found out he got the golden buzzer.”

The golden buzzer, also known as the “my choice buzzer,” sends the contestant right to the finale.

On Dec. 10, a viral TikToker from Lebanon will be auditioning.

“We’re excited to have him and it’s gonna be great,” said Blanks.

The talent show is on its fourth season.

“Riki Stevens won the first season. I remember thinking: ‘I can’t believe we’re getting the opportunity to showcase this talent,’” said Blanks.

Since her win, she has recorded her first album and is continuing to make music.

That same season, Michael Carbonaro offered the second-place winning magician to open up for his tour.

“It gives them the opportunity and the platform to perform and make their dreams come true,” said Blanks.

“A lot of people like myself grew up going to this theater,” said Matthew Oestreicher, director of the SHU Community Theatre. “I saw some of my first movies there.”

Movie-goers can still enjoy films at the theatre, but with the start of its most recent innovation in 2019, the theatre is offering a variety of media for all types of audiences.

“It’s now a beautiful performing arts center with 400 seats,” said Oestreicher. “The idea is that Sacred Heart wants to make it this leading performing arts and educational venue.”

“A really important part of our program is doing partnerships with artists in the area who embody what we want to create like Billy Blanks Jr.,” said Oestreicher. “It is such a great opportunity for young talent, for aspiring talent, to be nurtured and showcased.”

Along with Talent Recap, Webster Private Bank is one of the theatre’s sponsors.

According to Blanks, the talent show allows contestants to grow and fulfill their passions, regardless of whether or not they win. At one of the auditions this season, a group of teenage boys auditioned to have fun rather than fulfill a dream.

“As they performed, and watched the other performances, they realized there were some people who were really devoted to showcasing their talent,” said Blanks.

The boys made it to the next round through the online vote but gave up their position to a girl who did not make it through.

“I really feel like this theater is going to do something special for the Fairfield community,” said Blanks.

“Each show is picking up more and more momentum so we’re planning to do this a couple times a year,” said Oestreicher. “There are a lot of opportunities for students to be engaged with the theater.”

Oestreicher hopes for students to work at the theater, whether behind the scenes or even auditioning for the show.

The talent show welcomes all ages, ethnicities, and talents, according to Blanks. The last audition is Dec. 10. The winner receives a $1,000 cash prize along with becoming the headline performer of their Winner Showcase Show.

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