Variety act wins top prize among dazzling array of performers at Luzerne County’s Got Talent
WILKES-BARRE — The programs said it, the emcee repeated it, and 25 awe-inspiring musical acts nailed it: Luzerne County definitely has talent.
A months-long search to find the best and brightest artists in Luzerne County culminated Sunday on the big stage at FM Kirby Center with the finale of Luzerne County’s first-ever Got Talent event.
The Judges’ top prize of $1,000 went to Justin Prenga, who dazzled the audience with a variety number featuring piano, flute and impressions of former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, the lead singer Josh Groban and best-known voice actor Bill Fagerbakke. like the voice of Patrick Star on Spongebob Squarepants.
It may seem like an odd collection of talent, but Prenga had a method behind his award-winning performance.
“I thought I’d do a little NBC tribute,” Prenga said, and referenced PA Live host and Lucerne County Got Talent committee member Chris Bohinski, who had Prenga on the show. the show to make his impressions beforehand. “Patrick Star’s voice actor was interviewed on PA Live last summer…I just wanted to see what worked, and the result was there.”
The judging panel consisted of Caila Klaiss, Joanne Monfiletto, Steve Reiss, Julie Sidoni and Chelsea Strub, with Strub congratulating Prenga on accepting his $1,000 check.
“We chose Justin because he showed an array of talents,” Strub said. “It wasn’t just one or two, but many talents that he put into his act.”
Alfalfa County’s Got Talent was an idea created by the Northeast Pennsylvania Music Teacher’s Association, and association members Andrew Bogusko and Michele Millington served as co-chairs for this year’s event.
The event committee was made up of several prominent members of the community, including Kerry Miscavage, publisher of the Times Leader Media Group, who also served as the vote counter on Sunday.
“Hats off to the Luzerne County Got Talent Committee and the Northeastern PA Music Teachers Association for coming up with this great show idea and executing it so well. I thank both groups for including The Times Leader Media Group as a media sponsor,” said Miscavage.
“The talent we saw today was just amazing, especially those under the age of eighteen! Music, art and dance are so important to keep in school curricula and you can see by crowd today that parents, teachers and the community are dedicated to supporting these programs.
In addition to the judges’ prize of $1,000, the Kirby Center audience also got to vote for their favorite acts, with prizes of $750, $500, and $250 for the top three fan-voted acts.
Ashlyn Catina and the Michael Jackson Experience, a number made up of Joan Harris Center dance students whose ages took the stage to pay tribute to the King of Pop with a dance number, came in first and won the award of $750. over a medley of Jackson songs.
“The first time I heard Michael Jackson, it inspired me,” said Anthony Troell, one of the band members. “The way he talks and he sings, he really sends a message.”
The $500 prize went to Lauren Roberts for her rendition of “She Used to be Mine” and the $250 prize went to Camryn Mallarkey, who sang and played guitar on one song, “First Hello.” which she wrote herself.
“It was early quarantine,” Mallarkey said when she wrote the song. “It took about two weeks to put the words in writing, and after that it was all about perfecting it.”
The rest of the group of finalists brought several dazzling talents to the Kirby stage. There were violinists, trumpeters, pianists, dancers of all styles and shapes and even a foursome rock band.
While the acts all varied in many ways, each of the finalists had in common the incredible talent that brought them to the Kirby Center in the first place.
The event was hosted by State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski, who is no stranger to performing as a member of Eddie Day and the Starfires.
Pashinski was even persuaded to do a number for the crowd after all 25 finalists performed and the votes had to be tallied, performing “Land of 1,000 Dances” to the delight of the audience.
Proceeds from Sunday’s show will go towards establishing a scholarship fund for aspiring local musicians.
Among the onlookers cheering and cheering during the show was Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown, who shared a few words of encouragement with the performers at the start of the show before settling down to enjoy the music .
“I’m sitting here and I can’t believe how talented these kids are,” Brown said. “These kids are going places.”