By ARIHANT SETH, senior
Although it was cold outside, JP Stevens was warm and welcoming as students gathered in the auditorium for JPS Got Talent. This event, one of the most anticipated functions of the school year, was an exciting and memorable experience for participants and audience members alike. As Ms. Pawlikowski said, “When you’re a part of the band, orchestra, or choir, people may not see that little bit of who you are, but here in the talent show individuality is showcased, which is the best part of the competition.”
Seniors Grace Zhao, Austin Chen, Omkar Joshi, and Jamie Kwan began the show with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. Shortly after, the audience watched a video introducing the two hosts, seniors Jason Krasnits and Zachary Elghazl. It was a comedic sketch of the hosts’ fictitious journey to JP for the show. The hosts followed this bit with a series of jokes before introducing the judges’ panel, which included Ms. Biloholowski, Mr. Alfonzo, Mr. Cantalupo, and Mr. Mayes.
The first performance was an improvised instrumental duet by seniors Richard Kazandzhidi on the piano and Justin Jones on the saxophone. The two musicians played with virtuoso-level skill, complementing each other well. It was one of the many musical performances of the night.
Richard and Justin were followed by seniors Dennis Zhang and Kevin Dai, who performed a piano duet of “Gerudo Valley” from the video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The pair displayed a high level of technical skill, raising the bar for the competition.
Building off of the upbeat mood, sophomore Matthew Flores sang an acoustic version of “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green, accompanied by Kevin Zheng on the ukulele. Matthew set the stage on fire with his electrifying presence, busting out dance moves that perfectly fit the melody.
Next on stage was junior Tanya Banerjee, who sang a warm and ethereal rendition of “Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift. Tanya’s musicianship and vocal ability captivated the audience.
Following this performance, freshman Natalie Franco took the stage to dance ballet. Her routine included classical dance paired with contemporary music.
The next act was a cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You” performed by sophomore Shawki Perry. Shawki’s interpretation was at times restrained, at times passtionate.
Next, seniors Kristen Tse and Kunal Srivastava melted everyone’s hearts with their duet mashup of “Say Something” by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera and “Clarity” by Zedd. Senior Alick Jiang accompanied the singers on the piano and added to the display of skill and artistry.
Following the seniors were siblings senior Emmanuel and junior Veronica Beltran, breakdancing and krumping to “Million Dollar Bill” by Whitney Houston, “Right Here” by Justin Bieber, and “Upgrade U” by Beyoncé. The performance was exciting, modern, and fresh.
Senior Daniel Paul sang “Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles while sophomore Paul Rose played the guitar. Their cover was a faithful performance of a tried-and-true classic.
The stage darkened after the song ended, and seniors Emily Cai and Eurie Kim emerged from the aisles of the auditorium. The duo performed a mesmerizing in-the-dark dance to Cascada’s “Everytime We Touch,” complete with twirling and spinning glow sticks. It was unlike any other act of the night.
Shortly after the lights turned back on, sophomores Priya Mukherjee and Melody Otzan performed a cover of Ariana Grande’s “The Way.” While sophomore Melody Oztan strummed the guitar, Priya mesmerized with her rich voice.
The last act of the first round was a dance routine by freshmen Divya Khanna and Suvina Sinha. They pulled off impressive moves to “Unbroken” by Demi Lovato and ended the first round on a strong note.
Jason and Zachary announced that the judges were backstage deciding which three acts would move on to the next round. To keep the audience entertained, the two hosted a musical freeze dance game; at the end, senior Raymond Malia-Nunez emerged victorious.
For the second round, the three acts that earned the top scores performed again. Matthew and Kevin were asked to return. This time, Matthew sang “Love On Top” by Beyoncé, once more dancing along to his vocal performance. The duo left their opponents with a truly tough act to follow.
Emmanuel and Veronica also qualified for round two and danced to “Hold On We’re Going Home” by Drake. Though Veronica missed her landing during a flip and was injured, she has since recovered.
The third and final act of the second round was the holiday classic “Santa Baby,” performed by Priya and Melody. Their second round performance was as good as, if not better than, their first and ended the night magnificently.
After much anticipation, the hosts announced Matthew Flores and Kevin Zheng as the winners of JPS Got Talent. The show culminated with their acceptance speeches. Matthew later said, “JPS Got Talent was truly a glorifying experience. We just wanted to have fun, do our best, and not stress over winning. Seeing all of the amazing talent made us blessed to have won. It was a night neither one of us will ever forget.”