By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- The Bert DeRose Theater was packed with a full house Thursday night as students took the stage for this year's Amsterdam High School Talent Show.
Sponsored by the AHS Chorus, the event showcased nearly 30 students at the high school from ninth through 12th grade.
AHS Choral Director Patricia Valiante, who ran the show, said the event has been going on for about four or five years.
"The students knew about this the whole month of December," Valiante said. "They needed to get prepared; they needed to get their acts together, so to speak.
Last Thursday, the students auditioned and within 24 hours they knew whether they were accepted into it.
This week they did one dress rehearsal.
And on Thursday, just a week after they knew they would be performing, they got up on stage -- some with nerves, others with confidence, and even more with both -- to sing, dance, drum, play in bands, accompany vocalists on instruments, beatbox, and more.
"It is really, really fast," Valiante said of the process. "All the grades are represented here and anybody can come."
Even some graduates have come back to perform in the bands.
Valiante said this year was particularly exciting because there were more than just vocalists in the show.
"It's different this year which is exciting," she said. "I'm so glad the kids tried something new and different."
At 7 p.m., the lights dimmed in the theater and Valiante approached the stage to welcome the audience to a fun-filled evening of talent.
She also introduced the three talent judges for the night: 3rd Ward Alderman Gina DeRossi, Amsterdam native and entertainer Louie Velez, and talent agent Lisa DiMezza.
The three judges sat at their judging table throughout the night and took notes about the performances.
As they noted, the audience roared with applause, clapped to tunes, and screamed for their friends as they entered the stage.
And the students fed off of the enthusiastic crowd.
Nineteen-year-old Miguel Rivera-Ortiz, a senior at AHS, was the first beatboxer to be in the talent show.
A self-taught beatboxer of two years, Rivera-Ortiz said he was excited to share his talent, his fifth or sixth time performing.
Also enthusiastically excited to share his talent was Darren Clavell, who played guitar twice during the show and rounded out the night with a comical dance performance with Rivera-Ortiz and Chris Gonzalez.
"For me there's nothing like being on stage and making people laugh and making other people affected by what I do," he said.
Soon-to-be 18-year-old Joslyn Sky Marquez, a senior at the high school, performed her own songs at the show, an opportunity to showcase all she's been working on.
"I like to perform my own music," she said. "And I like getting feedback from everybody."
Marquez never knew she had the ability to write her own songs until she tried and now she hopes to pursue music in the future.
By the end of the night, honorable mentions were announced and the judges announced their top five performances.
The winning act of the night was from 16-year-old Courtney Heinze, who sang her heart out in Act Two with the song "Everytime."
She also accompanied a friend in the Act One on guitar.
Velez said after the awards were announced that he has been a judge for the past five years, but this year was particularly difficult.
"I keep on saying it's going to get easier and easier and every year it gets harder because there's a lot, a lot of talent," he said. "These kids are just one bunch of talented people here in Amsterdam and Patty Valiante does a great job organizing this. I'm just glad I can come back every year."
All of the proceeds from the night went to benefit the night's sponsor, the AHS Chorus.
Amsterdam High School Principal David Ziskin stood outside the theater at the end of the night, proud of his students.
"Our kids excel in all different ways and there's students who came out tonight and have in years past to really surprise people," he said. "We've got hidden talents and hidden gems all around us in this school and it's really nice to see that tonight in a little showcase."