Cellos and puppets: Performers let talents shine during inaugural ‘Cedar City Star Search’

CEDAR CITY — The inaugural “Cedar City Star Search” competition took place at the Heritage Center Theater Friday night, with a dozen contestants sharing their talents onstage.

L-R: Judges Lisa Cretsinger. Michael Bahr and Maile Wilson-Edwards, Cedar City Star Search talent competition, Cedar City, Utah, March 19, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

The evening’s performers included a young dancer, a magician, a group of cellists and a variety of other musical acts. 

Each contestant was evaluated by a panel of three judges, who also provided feedback and constructive criticism. The top winners in the four categories (child, teen, adult and group) each took home a prize of $250.

Winning the children’s category was Kate Sowards, who sang “The Girl in 14G.”

Singer-guitarist Tiana Green won the teenage category for her original composition titled, “Sticky Note Galaxy.”

Taking top honors in the adult category was ventriloquist Talise Mosley, who performed a tricky vocal duet of “Anything You Can Do,” rapidly and seamlessly switching back and forth from her own voice to the one she projected through her puppet, Astrid.

Mosley actually had finished in a tie for first place with Stockton Palmer, who had performed a stirring rendition of his own song called, “The Garden.” Both performers had received two 9s and one 10 score from the judges, who later conferred to break the tie and declare Mosley the winner.

However, at the end of the night after Palmer received the most applause of all the contestants, the judges proclaimed him the winner of the Audience Choice award, for which he received a trophy and a gift certificate to Crumbl Cookies.

Winning top group honors was the five-man band Apollo’s Army, who performed “Making Sound.” They’ve been playing together in Southern Utah for 13 years now, one of the band members told show host Brandon Burk during the program. 

Hadley Persons performs a song called “Hook” during the Cedar City Star Search talent competition, Cedar City, Utah, March 19, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Apollo’s Army achieved the highest score of the night, receiving 29 points of a possible 30 from the panel of judges consisting of Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards, Utah Shakespeare Festival Education Director Michael Bahr and Groovacious Records owner Lisa Cretsinger.

Other competing performers included dancer Kinsley Nakken, magician Hayden Kelsey, singer Madilyn Mann, singer Hadley Persons, pianist Harry Taylor, a group of cellists known as Cellomania USA and a trio of young rockers calling themselves Foxy Grandpa.

Two non-competition performers were also featured. Teenage violinist Russell Nielson provided the warm-up act, starting off the evening with a dubstep dancing rendition of Lindsey Sterling’s “The Arena,” while poet Geneva Williams recited a piece called “African Crown” as an intermediate act.

Brad Abrams, the city’s events director, thanked all those who helped make the event possible, including the performers themselves and their families, along with the event committee, judges, theater staff and sponsors. 

Although audience capacity restrictions were in place due to COVID-19, Abrams said between 400 and 500 people were able to attend the free event in person. The two-hour event was also streamed live on the Cedar City Events Facebook page, where much of it remains available for viewing.

Abrams told Cedar City News the city is planning to make the Star Search talent competition an annual event. 

“The committee is on board for another year and Cedar City Events is planning to do another one next spring,” Abrams said.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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