On Saturday evening, the Lee’s Summit High School Performing Arts Center was filled with musicians and dancers who awed the audience.
What onlookers also saw on that stage was the commitment, creative gifts, hopes and dreams of the 20 singers, dancers and musicians who performed during the ninth annual Lee’s Summit CARES Presents: Got Talent.
Performers shared their passion and energy with more than 600 audience members and three judges, as they competed for $6,000 in scholarship awards.
First-time participant Sam Aubuchon won this year’s $3,000 grand prize scholarship. A May graduate of Blue Springs High School, Aubuchon, 18, sang “What a Wonderful World,” arranged by Steve Vento, Kansas City area musician and composer.
Earlier this year, Aubuchon was one of more than 41 musicians, singers and dancers who auditioned for one of the spots in Saturday’s Got Talent finale.
“There were a lot of other people who could have won, so it was a really exciting win,” Aubuchon said. “I’ve learned to never expect to win, so it was a nice surprise.”
Though it was his first year to compete in the event, the stage has been his second home for nearly a decade. At 10, he made his musical theater debut as Oliver in the Blue Springs Community Theater production of “Oliver Twist.”
That play “got the ball rolling,” he said. “I’d never done anything like that before, but I fell in love with the music and it made everything in my life fall into place. Here I am, nine years later, still doing the same thing.”
Aubuchon wrapped up his senior year at Blue Springs High School with a performance as Terry Connor in “Side Show,” and this summer will play the role of Escapologist in Theater in the Park’s July production of “Matilda.” At the end of June, he heads to Broadway to compete in the Jimmy Awards, the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.
Though he has set his future sights on singing, Aubuchon also is an accomplished violinist. He has played the violin since he was 4 and was a member of the Kansas City Youth Symphony for nine years.
“My ultimate dream is to make a living as an artist,” he said.
During the event, the panel of judges evaluated performers on their abilities, execution, stage presence and the “wow” factor they generated on stage. At the end of the evening, audience members were also given an opportunity to vote by text for their favorite performers.
After the show ended, performers had the option to receive individual feedback on their performances from the judges.
“The last few years, we saw performers leave who were disappointed after not winning, and we decided this feedback could be really helpful for them,” said Rachel Segobia, executive director of Lee’s Summit CARES.
“Our performers had the opportunity to learn from professionals the skills they would need to develop to succeed in the performing arts world. Hearing that from a professional can really resonate and make an impression.
“Rejection is especially inherent in a career in this field. Performers really put themselves out there and take risks, so they need to develop resilience or the ability to ‘learn to fail,’ and realize that it’s part of the process.”
2019 Lee’s Summit CARES Presents: Got Talent winners
▪ $3,000 Grand Prize scholarship award winner: Sam Aubuchon, 18
▪ $2,000 Shining Star scholarship award winner: Jordan Haas, 17
▪ $1,000 Power Performer Scholarship award winner: Emma Hite, 12
This year’s Lee’s Summit CARES Got Talent performers included: Caleb Walters, Matthew Newkirk, Korbin Thaller, Alaina Garcia, Jordan Haas, Hayden Wood, Jaxie Smith, Keaton Bond, Simeon Prusia, Kyleigh Morgan Stitt, Mekhira Taylor, London Kearns, Mia Sparks, Emma Hite, Jacob Joseph Brown, Clara Hotze, Anna Johnson, Selah Menee Wheeler, Sam Aubuchon and Tristan Jenkins.