By Marilyn Burtnett
School Nurse, Talent Show Coordinator
Twenty years ago we decided to try producing a talent show at Spartanburg Day School. With sidekicks Fran Davis, who taught music and band classes at that time, and Middle School Latin teacher Chris Harrelson, who taught dance in a former life, I began “shaking the bushes” in Lower, Middle and Upper schools to see what performers may land in our laps to form our first-ever show of this nature. Now you have to consider that this was way before reality TV became the rage, and no one had ever heard of Ryan Seacrest.
The result was a wonderful conglomeration of acts, highlighting gifted singers, musicians and dancers. Mrs. Davis created a rock band out of my sixth grade homeroom students to make their debut in the show – and from that little group spawned an extremely talented drummer who went on to major in music in college and perform with his own successful group touring across the globe.
After that first show, we decided to make it a tradition to produce a similar production every other year – giving students a chance to think about their gifts and talents and look forward to participating in the next one. It also gave the production crew a rest.
Since that first show, we’ve seen just about everything. We’ve showcased verging magicians, closet dancers (as well as very well-trained ones), want-to-be Taylor Swifts and Mrs. Harb’s best warblers. We’ve had dog tricks and novelty acts (balancing a quarter on a stick which was stuck in one’s belly button comes to mind!), pianists and banjo pickers. The participants have ranged from 4 years old to… adults. We’ve had alums to come back to perform, and had students who went on to make performance their goal. So we see this as an opportunity to give children inspiration – to spark a new talent, to muster courage, to receive applause.
The one thing we can always promise our performers and their parents is that this is the most loving and forgiving audience you’ll ever have. From technical difficulties to “oops and start-overs,” our audiences have always been a most important participant in the production: laughing when appropriate, cheering when deserved, supporting when needed and encouraging when required.
So come be our audience. Enjoy our 4-year-old comedians and 3-year-old singer. Encourage our Chinese dancers and Middle School Elton Johns. Be amazed by every young student who steps up to a microphone or puts on tap shoes to walk into a spotlight, as that’s the joy of a school-wide talent show. Give yourself that gift.
We’ll begin our show at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, in the Seth Milliken Gymnasium. There will be a 30-minute intermission when dinner will be served. The second half should be finished by about 8:30 p.m.