Freshman Kate Wilburn claimed the top prize as winner of Rowan’s Got Talent 2017.
The annual talent contest hosted by the Rowan Television Network and Rowan After Hours was held in the Chamberlain Student Center Pit on Friday Nov. 17 at 9:30 p.m. Students got a chance to escape the cold night and be entertained by eight performers and enjoy some pork served after the show.
Kate Wilburn placed first, while Charles Gilbert and Kaitlee Franciso placed second and third respectively. Wilburn performed an original dance that was choreographed for the contest with music from Wilburn’s friend Kylie Westerbeck, an original song named “Take Me Back Again.” Gilbert and Francisco competed as singers. Gilbert performed a cover of “Stay” by Rihanna, while Francisco covered Pink’s hit single “What About Us.”
Wilburn was the only dancer in the competition. Along with Nate Jones who performed original comedy, both Wilburn and Jones were the only competitors who weren’t vocalists.
Wilburn has been a dancer since childhood, but trained professionally for about a year. That training was condensed into one day to choreograph the dance that won Wilburn Rowan’s Got Talent and $200 in Rowan Bucks.
“I like performing and this was a great opportunity to showcase what my talent is so I thought, ‘Why not? Let’s try it,’” Wilburn said.
“I thought it was a mistake. In all honest I was like, ‘there’s no way that’s right there must be a mistake,’” Wilburn added regarding winning.
Wilburn said the dance was inspired by leaving and going away to college, coinciding with Wilburn’s perceived meaning behind Westerbeck’s song.
“It’s mostly about people saying they’ve gone to this new place and they want to go back home, but this place might not be so bad,” Wilburn said.
The six vocal performers varied their performances around original songs and covers. Ashley Lennic, a 19-year-old musical theater major, covered “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” which was performed by Barbara Streisand in the musical “Funny Girl.” Lennick said the song is one of her favorite songs and that she performed it for a talent contest in high school.
“Tonight, was really fun, they kept busy in the Green Room and it was very organized,” Lennick said regarding her experience competing in Rowan’s Got Talent.
This year’s Rowan’s Got Talent was produced by student producers sophomore radio, television and film majors Sean Kelly and Gina Donovan, both members of Rowan Television Network. This was Kelly’s first time producing the show and Donovan’s second.
Both spent multiple nights cramped inside the Rowan Television Network office in Bozorth Hall for about two months, working to develop concepts to make this year’s production as professional as possible. One new addition was the use of a Green Room as a place to hold interviews with contestants before and after their performances.
“It was a good night,” Kelly said. “Obviously we had hiccups. We’re not a super big production studio in the West Coast. We’re here doing it as a student-run club. I walked away from it proud that I got the opportunity to lead such a great team of people, such a great group of talent.”
“I think the Green Room went over so well, it honestly went over better than I thought it would, which was really exciting to me,” Donovan said. “Obviously there’s room for improvement. The show wasn’t perfect. When you’re working with live TV, you just kind of have to roll with the punches. I’m really happy with how the show came out and I’m proud of the crew.”
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