Milford students star in Palace Theater's virtual talent showcase

When the Palace Theater in Waterbury announced that it was launching a virtual talent showcase for students, it didn’t take long before some amazing videos started coming into the Palace. The COVID-EO Student Talent Challenge was open to CT students ages 7 to 19 who reside in Connecticut. Students had to record themselves: singing, dancing, playing an instrument, acting and performing comedy.

The competition was stiff with more than 80 entries from all over the state and over 1,600 voters who played a part in the decision-making through Facebook and Instagram. The winners are in three different categories.

The Instagram Engagement winners were a group of sophomores, juniors and seniors from both Jonathan Law High School and Joseph A. Foran High School in Milford. Their winning submission was a parody of the “Cell Block Tango” number from the musical “Chicago.” The members included Jenna King, Hannah Pogemiller, Aiden Day, Sarah McNemar, Isabel Blanco and Kat Parker. King, a student at Joseph A. Foran High School credited Pogemiller and Day with coming up with their group’s idea.

“I believe what gave us the edge to win was how committed we all were in the video to play the parts and turning the classic song into a relatable and funny version,” King said. “It took each of us a day to film each of our parts, but it took Hannah a long time to do all the editing and we are very thankful for her putting so much work into the video.”

The Survey Winner was Niona Lynn Francillette, a student at the Academic Academy within Wallace Middle School in Waterbury. She did a ballet selection to Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” Having studied ballet for 10 years, the 13-year-old said that she thinks she had an edge because “I’m very passionate about dance and I’m very competitive.” In addition to this, she said it took her quite a while to do the piece. “I did it over and over again until I got it just right.”

She also pointed out that her mom and dad helped with creating the lighting. She performed in her home’s game room in the basement where there was plenty of room. Her dream is to someday have her own dance studio where all kinds of dance will be taught.

The Palace Pick was Mireya Trelles, a freshman at the Waterbury Arts Magnet School in Waterbury, won with her COVID-19 themed remix parody of the “Friends” theme song. What was so creative about this entry was that the vocalist had a frame of herself accompanying and harmonizing with her center image. It was quite clever. That she also wrote new words to the “Friends” theme featuring the topic of the coronavirus made it especially timely and entertaining.

The 15-year old Waterbury Arts Magnet School student said she used an app called “a capella.” Watching her sing with herself in various harmonies is quite amazing. Still, she was quite surprised to have found herself among the winners. “I was completely surprised. I knew about the competition but wasn’t really thinking of doing anything until one of my friends urged me to do so. It took me a half day to make it,” said Trellis who hopes to become a music therapist.

“There is so much power in music,” said the articulate and enthusiastic student. “We can’t touch or hug now, but we can all hear,” she said adding that music frees a joyful spirit. That’s something we all could use right about now.

Congratulations to all the winners. Bravo!