By Hannah Newman
R Factor, Rider’s singing competition, returned with intensity as contestants from the previous fall competition were up against first-time contestants on Jan. 29 in the Bart Luedeke Center.
The finalists included freshman film major Will Dusinberre and junior criminal justice major Christine Ruggieri who took the R Factor stage for their second time along with junior music education major Eddie Tamanini, senior popular music studies major Trevor Sullivan, senior biology major Daria Brockington-Gray, sophomore musical theater major Skylar Noyes and junior elementary education major Mo Mahmoud.
The judges were Dani Knights, a former “X Factor” finalist and returning judge for R Factor, Brad Fischetti, a former member of the band LFO, Karin Torchia, a legacy R Factor judge and Associate Dean of Campus Life Nick Barbati.
Tamanini was first to take the stage with his acoustic performance of “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. The judges commended him for exceeding their expectations in playing acoustic while singing.
“You didn’t skip a beat,” said Barbati in reaction to Tamanini’s performance.
The next to perform was Brockington-Gray who threw glow sticks into the audience as she sang “Slow Dancing in the Dark” by Joji.
The judges mentioned how touched they were with how Gray delivered this emotional piece.
“At one point I put my hand over my heart. I was really feeling it,” said Torchia.
Mahmoud received a standing ovation from both the judges and the audience with his performance of “Jealous” by Labrinth.
Torchia acknowledged how visible Mahmoud’s connection to the song by his execution of each lyric.
“I could feel the emotion coming out of every word you sang,” said Torchia.
Returning performer Ruggieri sang “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor and received a pleasing reaction from Fischetti.
“I would love to see what a producer could do with that beautiful tone of yours,” said Fischetti.
Sullivan also received a standing ovation from the audience with his performance of “Tonight” by John Legend and was complimented for his skilled vocals by Torchia.
“You definitely, most certainly, have a gift,” said Torchia. With a standing ovation from the judges and audience, returning performer Dusinberre satisfied the theater with his performance of “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton.
Torchia recognized Dusinberre’s ability to take the stage effortlessly. “You are natural performer, you make it look so easy,” said Torchia.
Noyes finished the first round of performances with a standing ovation to “People” by Barbra Streisand.
“I can definitely see you rocking a Broadway stage one day,” said Fischetti in response to the performance.
The audience voted via text while former winner of R Factor and junior musical theater major Shamiea Thompson took the stage for yet another performance that had the audience responding with a roaring applause.
Thompson also shared her thoughts on this semester’s theme of All-Stars vs. New Stars.
“Honestly the soundcheck was so good and I feel like in comparison to the R Factor last semester there’s a lot more stronger voices which is really exciting,” said Thompson.
Dusinberre, Mahmoud and Tamanini made it to the final three where they each had the opportunity to perform their second song of the night.
Mahmoud started the second round with “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé where the audience gave him his second standing ovation of the night.
“I wanted you to start all over again, that’s how good it was,” said Torchia.
With an original song titled “Livia,” Tamanini gained the respect of the judges.
“Showing us an original piece was risky but really showed your confidence as an artist,” said Knights.
Dusinberre got the judges on their feet yet again with his performance of “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)” by Don McLean.
“I think you are someone we will all be talking about in 20 years,” said Barbati after the performance.
After another round of voting, Mahmoud was crowned the R Factor All-Stars vs. New Stars champion.