By Emily Klingman and Alyssa Naimoli
The Yvonne Theater was filled with a variety of dancing, comedy and magic, as the curtains opened for the annual Rider’s Got Talent auditions on Sept. 21.
The student competition will present its finale on Oct. 5. Held in the fall, it showcases any type of talent, with the exception of singing, which is reserved for The R-Factor in the spring semester. Andrew LoBrace, coordinator of student programs, is impressed with this year’s auditions.
“This year’s acts were very dynamic,” LoBrace said. “From musicians to magicians, we have very talented students.”
The audition began with a display of the judges’ talents. This year’s judges included Vinnie Brand, who often performs at the Stress Factory Comedy Club in New Brunswick; Purdie Baumann, a dancer for NBC’s show Smash and a former Radio City Rockette; and Jamiyl Mosley, Rider administrator and staff member in Residence Life.
“This was the first year that we have had celebrity judges, and we thought that the students really connected well with them,” LoBrace said. “Purdie was the nice judge, which a lot of students loved. Vinnie was seen as the Simon Cowell of the judging panel and was more harsh on the acts, so we feel that it added a great dynamic.”
The auditions consisted of 14 contestants who had a variety of talents: junior global supply chain management major Michael “Magic Mike” Dziubas, magic show; junior elementary education major Carrie Lettiere, dancing; freshman secondary education major Tyshelle Phillips, spoken word; sophomore math major Cowain Reid, rapping; freshman theater performance major Justin Giachetti, monologue, and comedic duo with freshman theater performance major, Patrick Barnsley, who also did a solo comedic act; freshman undeclared major Sriram Srinivasan, violin; freshman political science major Ruth DelPino, spoken word; freshman theater performance majors Rosie Sanabria and Alyssa Marte, comedy; senior public relations major Isa Wisse, comedy; junior secondary education major Lawrence Rothweiler, saxophone; sophomore criminal justice major Ryan Henson, spoken word; and freshman elementary education major Jenna Moschella, monologue.
Dziubas performed a spunky musical magic show to B.O.B.’s “Magic” that kept the audience members on their toes. As Dziubas performed a few of his favorite tricks, he added his own flair and personality as he moved about the stage. His performance was well-received by the audience and the judges advanced him to the next round.
Phillips performed a free verse poem entitled “That Girl,” by Alysia Harris. She brought a strong and dramatic performance to the stage that exuded empowerment as she made the written word come to life. The judges found Phillips’ performance to be riveting. The audience encouraged her by ending most of her lines with cheering and thunderous applause.
Srinivasan performed an Indian violin composition that kept the audience highly entertained as he made the difficult task of playing violin look natural. The judges all chimed in on how talented Srinivasan was, but critiqued his stage presence, and suggested he use a dancer for his next performance.
“It was a great experience for me,” Srinivasan said. “I like to show my type of music to people who have never heard of it, and I plan to use that in the finals.”
DelPino brought emotions to the stage –— happiness, sadness, pain and hope — as she progressed through her spoken word performance. The audience praised DelPino for her talent and admired her originality. The judges appreciated how well she brought real feelings to the stage, and DelPino seems like a front-runner for the finale after the positive feedback she received from the judges.
Giachetti performed an expressive and heartbreaking monologue entitled “My Mother’s Turtlenecks,” by Wallace Kirkman. His monologue brought a somber mood to the crowd as he spoke, but Giachetti kept it subtle and moving. He received one X from the judges, but the other two found it well-executed.
“I loved my experience,” Giachetti said. “It is like the real world: Some people praise you, others tear you down. But you must be confident in yourself, push yourself forward, and give it your all. That’s what I intend to do at the finals.”
Rothweiler took the stage with his saxophone and performed a medley of pop songs, including Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” The audience was clapping and dancing as he progressed through each song. The judges thought his performance was very entertaining, but recommended he move around the stage for his next appearance.
On Oct. 5, Dziubas, Phillips, Srinivasan, DelPino, Rothweiler, and Giachetti, the final six, will perform and the judges will allow three or four acts to continue to the last round. Baumann and Mosley will return to the judges’ panel along with Nick Barbati, assistant director of Campus Life and judge from The R-Factor. Each contestant is going to try to enhance the performance by adding new tricks and new talent to keep the audience interested.
The audience will ultimately decide the winner by voting via text message. They also can expect to see special guest performances by last year’s The R-Factor winners, as well as the Rider Vibes and the dance team. The winner will receive a $250 cash prize.
Additional reporting by Nicole Cortese
Printed in the 10/2/13 edition.