Despite missed cues and technical troubles, amateur performers took command of the stage during Friday evening’s annual “A Night at the Apollo” talent competition.
Ashland’s version of the legendary “amateur night” at Harlem’s Apollo Theater began with a touch of sophistication from Louisa pianist Thaddeus Henson, who performed a complex classical piece while wearing a traditional tail-coat tuxedo, finishing with a flourish and a deep bow to the audience at Ashland Community and Technical College’s J.B. Sowards Theatre. The piano remained at center stage for vocalist Ashby Foutch of Ashland, who accompanied herself on a powerful ballad. A young Mattox Hale of Catlettsburg also stole the hearts of many in the audience with a combination of shyness and confidence as she sang Taylor Swift’s “Mean.”
The ACTC Children’s Theatre Singers filled the stage with roughly 30 performers as they performed a song from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” just before Emma Latherow found her place on the stage and delivered a rendition of “Castle on a Cloud,” from Les Miserables. Delany McDaniel recovered from a silent microphone for her version of Rhianna’s “Take a Bow.” South Shore Dancer Seth McAllister caused multiple spontaneous bursts of applause as he performed a sort of pop-and-lock dance routine, often adding a touch of robot as he worked the stage, and vocalist Desmond Snyder of Ashland finished the first half of the evening’s talent competition.
Husband and wife Anne and Tom Stephens of Greenup entertained during the break with versions of Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of My Tears” and “My Guy.” Robinson, who is scheduled to perform in Huntington this evening, was recently the subject of an Internet hoax claiming he had passed away.
The second half of the competition began with a gospel performance by Pam Hall of Ashland, followed by Julianna Parlin of Portsmouth, who earned the respect of the audience with a spot-on rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Eric Tipton of Ashland armed himself with a solid body guitar, bringing smiles to many faces as he worked through crunchy riffs and lead licks alike. Heather Miller of Ashland smiled as she learned of technical problems with her backing tracks, taking the situation in stride and giving the crowd an acappella version of “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.” As the evening drew to a close, allowing the panel of judges time to add their scores and announce a winner, Aaron Stephens of Greenup stepped behind a conga drum and let loose with an energized rendition of the Jackson Five’s “ABC,” and Susan Taylor of Ironton brought the evening to a close.
Once the scores were tabulated, Julianna Parlin won first place in the youth category, followed by Seth Allister and Heather Miller. In the adult division, the ACTC Children’s Theater Singers, cast members from throughout the region in Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat walked away with top honors, followed by Susan Taylor in second place and Heather Miller in third place.
“A Night at the Apollo” is an annual event celebrating Black History Month in Ashland and Boyd County.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.