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Rock band Vinyl Rush wins Hamburg’s Got Talent

Local rock band Vinyl Rush won Hamburg’s Got Talent, an old Hollywood-themed variety show to benefit the historic Hamburg Strand Theater.

Two days of sold-out shows on Sept. 24 and 25 featured singing, dancing, rock ‘n’ roll, magic and more as local singers, bands and performers competed live for a cash prize.

“There was a sense of community with the sidewalks filled with excitement, and the reaction to the acts was overwhelming,” Hamburg Strand Theater coordinator Stephanie Adam said.  “The event exceeded our expectations with a sense of community and support.”

The Saturday show was assessed by a panel of judges, and at Sunday’s show audience members voting for their favorites.

Judges were Melanie Geiger, former owner of Necessities New & Used Furniture in Hamburg; John Cusatis, owner and operator of Aquatic Research Laboratory in Shartlesville; and Francesca Taveras, community ambassador and theater projectionist at the GoggleWorks Center of the Arts in Reading in 2019 and a staff member at Cosmic Art Studios in Pottstown.

Named the winning contestant by the judges on the first day and voted People’s Choice the second day, Vinyl Rush won both days of competition and the $600 prize.

The band performed three original songs, “Wake Me Up,” “Rooftops” and “Drafted.” Members Cody Toplak, 14, on lead vocals and guitar; Nick Alvine, 15, on drums; and Dante Fioravanti, 15, on bass guitar and backup vocals, have been creating songs and mastering other artists’ material for the past year and a half.

Hamburg Strand Theater built its own Walk of Fame by painting stars on the sidewalk outside the theater, offering a great photo moment for spectators and contestants. Stars were sponsored by contestants, individuals and local businesses. (Submitted photo - Hamburg Strand)
The Hamburg Strand painted its own Walk of Fame on the sidewalk outside the theater, offering a great photo moment for spectators and contestants. Stars were sponsored by contestants, individuals and local businesses. (Submitted photo – Hamburg Strand)

A Night to Remember

Hil Eldridge was the organizer and director of Hamburg’s Got Talent. When Adam approached her with the idea, Eldridge quickly set to work. Previously, Eldridge created a percussion workshop for Hamburg teens at the Strand. A theater kid in her youth who studied film at the University of Southern California, she manages creative events, retreats and festivals in the area.

“Event planner Hil Eldridge had a vision for the event and exceeded our expectations with a lot of support from the community and businesses in the Hamburg area,” Adam said.

The theater created its own Walk of Fame by painting stars on the sidewalk outside the theater, offering a great photo moment for spectators and contestants. Stars were sponsored by contestants, individuals and local businesses.

“We wanted to give Hamburg a fun, inclusive, memorable night for the whole community to enjoy,” Eldridge wrote in her Director’s Notes.

Auditions were held at the theater for 22 acts in August, followed by callbacks and rehearsals.

“Some people had never been on any stage before,” Eldridge wrote. “We had to work on loosening up and taking up space with confidence. At every turn, the cast and crew were focused and committed, practiced and ready to show off their wonderful talents.”

She was inspired by the can-do attitude of all involved in the show.

“Hamburg is full of untapped creativity, and I hope to facilitate more opportunities for artists of all stripes,” Eldridge wrote.

She thanked the Our Town Foundation, Hamburg Strand and the community “for their tireless support in making Hamburg’s Got Talent a heck of a good time.”

Staff dressed for the Old Hollywood theme, including ushers, candy girls, jazz musicians, and paparazzi. (Submitted photo)
Staff dressed for the Old Hollywood theme, including ushers, candy girls, jazz musicians, and paparazzi. (Submitted photo)

The audience was encouraged to dress to impress for the event’s Old Hollywood Costume Contest and participate in preshow fun.

Staff wore costumes for the classic Hollywood theme, dressing as ushers, candy girls, jazz musicians, and paparazzi.

Hamburg's Got Talent contestant Becka Youpa poses for a photo outside the Hamburg Strand Theater. A Hamburg singer, she performed a cover of "At Last" for the talent show. (Submitted photo)
Hamburg’s Got Talent contestant Becka Youpa outside the Hamburg Strand Theater. A Hamburg singer, she performed “At Last” for the talent show. (Submitted photo)

Talent Show

Contestants entertained the sold-out crowd both days. The 11 contestants, hailing from Hamburg and beyond, displayed a range of talents from lyrical dancer to a ventriloquism.

Sophia Garretson, 12, sang “Rise Up.” Yesenia Munoz, 15, of Lenhartsville, danced to “Singing in the Rain.” Nadia D’Agostino, 13, from Feasterville, sang “Don’t Rain on my Parade.”

Ventriloquist Olivia Brenner, 10, of Hamburg, performed with her ventriloquist friend Lilly. Her inspiration is Darci Lynne, a former American’s Got Talent winner.

“I enjoyed watching her so much that my dad surprised me with my own doll,” wrote Brenner in the program.

Justin Luigard, 38, of Reading, considers himself the “singing UPS” man as he sings most days he drives his delivery truck. He sang “Forever Now.”

“I enjoy doing karaoke, and I’m grateful my wife introduced me to the opportunity of Hamburg’s Got Talent. I can’t wait to give it my all for this show!” he wrote.

Darryl Dietrich, 61, from the Hamburg, Shartlesville area, sang “Woman Woman.”

“I have been singing as long as I can remember. If you get a good feeling, while I’m singing or it brings you back a time and a place, then that gives me joy. I may not be the best of sing the latest songs, but I hold my own,” wrote Dietrich.

Becka Youpa, 35, of Hamburg, sang “At Last.” She has auditioned for “American Idol” three times and even sang in front of Clay Aiken. She sang the national anthem for the Reading Royals and at an NRAA Farm Show event.

“I joined the adult choir in my church when I was 9, and I’ve been annoying my brothers with my singing ever since,” wrote the mother of an 11-year-old son.

Magician Nate Heater, 26, from Pottsville, has been performing magic for the past nine years and was the youngest winner of the Mr. Millersville competition at Millersville University. At age 17, Heater was bedridden with a knee injury.

“I saw a magician on TV during that time and fell in love with magic ever since,” Heater wrote.

Amanda Nastasi, 29, of Hamburg, sang “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman.” She said singing has always been a part of her life.

“Growing up around musicians within my family, it inspired me to find my own song inside myself,” Nastasi wrote.

Marian Hoffman, 69, performed ballet, and her sister Joanne Eagle, 72, sang “Over the Rainbow.” Hoffman always wanted to be a dancer but her parents could not afford dance lessons. At age 62, she made a bucket list and dance lessons were at the top. She has been dancing for the past seven years with teacher Michelle Wasik.

“We believe it is never too late to follow your dream,” Hoffman wrote in the program. “If you got a chance, take it while you got a chance. If you got a dream, chase it. Cause a dream won’t chase you back.”

Our Town Foundation Executive Director Deena Kershner said this was a great venue for performers who are just starting out and trying to get recognized.

“The theater offers a smaller entertainment venue creating a better atmosphere for the performers,” Kershner said. “Since it was a sold-out crowd both days, the event brought a lot of people into the town, many of whom were not local, so it brought awareness of the downtown and the nostalgic Strand Theater to many.”

This was the theater’s first attempt at hosting Hamburg’s Got Talent.

“We were very impressed with the turnout of performers, attendees and financial supporters of the event,” Kershner said. “We are hoping this will become an annual event.”

All profits from the event will support the Strand Theater, located in a 1799 building that was one of the first properties to be built in the town. The property was converted into a theater in 1920.

Our Town Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Hamburg, purchased the theater in 2013 in an effort to preserve and protect it as a major asset and attraction within the Hamburg community.

For more information about OTF, visit https://www.hamburgpa.org/business/our-town-foundation/.


Source: Berkshire mont

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