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Darien Arts Center Crowns Six Winners at Darien’s Got Talent

Darien's Got Talent winners, left to right: in the adult category, 1st prize, Zach Heyde, 2nd prize, Tom Giles, 3rd prize, Riley Thrush, and in the children's category, 1st prize, Taylor Felt, 2nd prize, Lauren Blake, and 3rd prize, Ella Bates.
Darien's Got Talent winners, left to right: in the adult category, 1st prize, Zach Heyde, 2nd prize, Tom Giles, 3rd prize, Riley Thrush, and in the children's category, 1st prize, Taylor Felt, 2nd prize, Lauren Blake, and 3rd prize, Ella Bates. Photo Credit: Contributed

DARIEN, Conn., -- In an unprecedented showcase of talent, twenty finalists from Darien and neighboring towns gave it their all onstage, in the Darien Arts Center’s June 25th fundraiser, Darien’s Got Talent. Competing acts from Darien, Westport, Norwalk, Stamford, New Canaan and Greenwich included singers, dancers, and musicians that awed both the audience of 500 at Darien High School and the panel of judges, making the selection of winners a difficult one.

Entertainment judges included Columbia Records/Sony Music Senior Vice President John Doelp; producer of Kinky Boots, Jane Bergere; Broadway writer and director Dan Goggin (Nunsense); former professional New York City Ballet dancer Ashlee Knapp Stewart; and renowned jazz musician Joel A. Martin.

Darien resident Zach Heyde was awarded the first place prize in the adult category for his flawless and delightfully entertaining piano rendition of “Inspector Gadget”. Tom Giles from Cos Cob, another pianist, took 2nd prize in the adult category for his original composition “Swan Song”, and Riley Thrush, from Westport, placed third for her soulful vocal performance of “New York State of Mind”.

Taylor Felt nailed the top prize in the children’s category, with a vocal and piano performance of her mashup of “Alive” and Middle”, while Irish step dancer, Lauren Blake took second prize with her dazzling performance to “Can’t Stop the Feeling”. The poignant vocal performance of “On My Own” by Ella Bates captured third place for the young singer. All winners in the children’s category are from Darien. Taylor Felt received a second award, the DAC’s People Choice Award, for receiving the most online votes and raising the most in the online portion of the fundraiser.

Seasoned director, Carole Claps orchestrated the evening’s performances seamlessly, with the skillful help of Chris Coogan as musical director and BT McNicholl as Master of Ceremonies. During the judges deliberations, a slideshow of entries from the DAC’s smartphone photo contest, Pic Darien was screened and Darien’s First Selectman, Jayme Stevenson engaged the audience with her own vocal talent, singing, “What A Wonderful World”. DAC Co-President Dana Fead and Executive Director Amy Allen thanked sponsors, producers and the crowd for their support, and invited all to enjoy the Darien Arts Center’s offerings.

150 guests, including sponsors, winners and judges attended the exclusive post show party, Darien’s Got Taste, enjoying outstanding cuisine, entertainment by pianist Bob Rissolo, and celebrating with winners.

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