The Fabulous Fox Theater, St. Louis


Seventh Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition Finalists

Presented by The Fox Theatre Performing Arts Charitable Foundation

At The Fabulous Fox Theatre on April 8, 2017

Reviewed by Joan Leyden

An enthusiastic and culturally diverse audience packed the house at the historic Fox Theatre Saturday night to celebrate the talent of 29 finalists in 17 separate acts, competing for more than $30,000 in college scholarships and a variety of special prizes. Judged by a distinguished panel of performance professionals, including the artistic directors of the Repertory Theatre and the Muny, as well as individual performers from the St. Louis Symphony and the Union Avenue Opera (to name just a few), the standards were high. Interpretation, stage presence, technique and originality were the criteria employed and these gifts were present in abundance amongst the contestants.

Drawing the talent from 67 regional high schools and supported by what the events program lists as FOUR PAGES of donors (universities, colleges, arts centers and professional theatres), this annual event is the creation of the Fox’s Board President, the indefatigable Mary Strauss and is an especially welcome gift at this time to a racially troubled city.

First place in the contest went to the glamorous, 17-year-old Christina Jones, whose emotionally charged and sophisticated rendition of “I Have Nothing” would have been a showstopper in many venues. In second place was a spirited rendition of “Feeling Good” by three artists: Kianna Bowser (a singer with a warm personality and tone to match): David McCall (a lively, interpretative dancer); and Branden Lewis at the piano. Third place was captured by the petite 14-year-old Samanvita Kasthuri for her exquisite interpretation of “Rise” in a classical Indian dance form.

Special mention should be given to Tomas Larsen, a classical pianist whose subtlety and technique seemed unusual for someone not yet 18-years-old; to Jerome Eulentrop and Rose Haselhorst for their witty enactment of an encounter between two violins; to Cianna Vo, a modern dancer celebrating the enchantments of water; to Evan Adams for her touching interpretation of a young black mother in “Your Daddy’s Son”; and to the charming dancer Kristin Meyer, whose seemingly effortless tapping to “I’m An Errand Girl for Rhythm” made me want to see her starred in a movie.

This engaging production was written and directed by Tony Parisi, choreographed by Yvonne Meyer Hare, and imaginatively lit by Ryan Lilly. Special thanks should also go to the personable Emcee Ben Nordstrom; to the Fabulous Fox Tellerettes, whose musical numbers added greatly to the pleasures of the evening; and to last year’s first place winner, pianist Royce Martin, whose Scott Joplin-inspired rendition of “Rags to Riches” left us all foot-tapping.

Be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s 8th Annual Competition to be held Saturday, April 28th at The Fabulous Fox on Grand Avenue. ADMISSION IS FREE and it is always one of the best shows in town.

And if you missed this year’s production, you still have a chance to see it on Channel Nine, the PBS Channel, on Monday, May 22 at 7:00 P.M or on May 29 at 3:00 A.M.

Our thanks once again to Mary Strauss and the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation.

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