This year’s Rotary Club of Carpinteria Talent Show found its feet on a real theatrical stage, not merely a middle school auditorium, and the Plaza Playhouse Theater in Carpinteria did wonders for the atmosphere of the event, which was as celebratory and all-encompassing as the performers — ages 9 to 93, to be exact!
Twenty-four acts comprising of 56 performers took the stage in the Rotary Club’s two shows last Saturday, and some must be singled out for their brilliance.
Carl Ray and the Coconuts performed the popular hit “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” revealing a more exotic and romantic side to the ukelele. The beautiful and mesmerizing pluck-tones that Ray so precisely strums have been part of his appeal in a professional career of more than 30 years, so it’s no wonder that this rendition was one of the highlights of the show.
Then came Xenia Flores, a 17-year-old Carpinteria High School student who brought an almost gothic flavor to Taylor Swift’s song “Back to December.” Flores has an agile voice and an edgy look that had the audience sitting upright in their seats. She accompanied herself on keyboard, and musically — in both departments — she performed without falter.
Comedian Ellis Wayne performed some rather crude comedy, which highly entertained the older and even the younger audience members of the sold-out 200-seat house. Then the “Strolling Magician of the Year,” Mark Collier, performed a hilarious multiple hat juggle on a member of the audience. He ended his act by juggling a knife, a bowling ball and a flaming torch at once, literally scaring one younger audience member out of her seat!
Drawing to a close of this three-hour talent show was the incomparable traditional Irish band, Shepherd’s Pie, performing “Queen of Argyll,” a multi-instrument version including tin whistle and vocals. If you haven’t seen or heard them before, you can find them at Dargan’s on East Ortega Street on some Saturday nights.
Closing the show was the Curtis Studio of Dance Competition Corps, a group of talented young dancers ages 12 to 16 who regularly compete (and win) in annual Los Angeles dance competitions. This year they performed a slick Bob Fosse-style dance to “Fever,” each one of them confidently strutting their stuff and flashing all-alluring eyes and smiles to the audience like the best of young professionals do.
Judging by the audience’s final reaction, the show in itself was a hit, and the buzz outside the theater afterward was exactly the right kind — full of anticipation and planning for more entertainment of this variety and style.