Chemistry helps earn couples victory at Langley talent show

Young love was blossoming on the stage of Langley Has Talent this weekend.

The chemistry was apparent, with a few kisses exchanged, hands held, and even some romance and song served up on a park bench during the talent competition’s semifinals held Saturday night.

Of the 25 acts that stepped onto the stage in the Christian Life Assembly (CLA) auditorium on March 29, at least five of them included young couples.

And if the emcee, Education Minister Peter Fassbender, still has any influence locally, there might be a potential sixth. The former Langley City mayor jokingly suggested a two young dance competitors get together, proposing that 10-year-old Dante Arias and 12-year-old Paige McLachlan would make one heck of a cute couple.

“It appears there were several adolescents here tonight who were seeking out each other to make beautiful music together,” Peter Luongo said with a chuckle. He’s one of the host Rotarians, an entertainer, and the founding organizer of the annual Langley Has Talent contest that is now in its fourth year.

“This year, we couldn’t believe how many couples there are… Isn’t that funny,” Luongo added, noting that, having chatted with the participants, he’s learned that many of the young couples got together through their love of music.

Among this year’s contenders, there were numerous singers (individuals, duos, and trios) as well as bands, dancers, a unicyclist, a circus-style acrobatic, a rapper, and even a finger-style acoustic guitarist.

(Check out a photo gallery of Saturday’s performances.)

“I was just so proud of all of the performers tonight,” said Luongo, who told the Langley Advance immediately after the event that the show put on by all four Langley Rotary Clubs was a first-class performance that rivaled professional shows.

“I’m delighted I don’t have to make the decision, because the level of talent across the board was first class,” he added.

“I think the typical audience members would have been hard pressed to hear or see any mistakes,” Luongo said, noting each of the acts listened to suggestions offered during the auditions and implemented those ideas to enhance their semifinal performances.

A crowd of about 600 people watched each of the acts perform Saturday, and while judges Joilenne Moore, Natasha Zimbaro, and John Donnelly did the heavy lifting when it came to picking the top 12 of those 25 acts, the audience had work to do, too.

It was up to the crowd to vote for a fan favourite. They had to pick the 13th act to earn a spot at the finals happening April 12.

“Many of these performers will go on to have a career in entertainment and this will be a place they can reflect on as an important part of their development as entertainers,” said Luongo.

It wasn’t revealed until almost midnight that night which acts were picked to move on to the finals.

“There were very few points differentiating the top scorers from the lower scoring groups, and so it was very hard to select the finalists,” explained Donnelly.

“As such it was just marginal errors that caused some of the groups to not progress to the final… Langley definitely has talent!” he said.

Donnelly, who is a first-time judge with LHT on Saturday, is a musician and songwriter who earned two gold albums in his youth with Queen City Kids and now works as a producer of large music festivals and show. He recently won an international award for his work producing Surrey Fusion Festival.

He described the LHT as a well-rounded show with a “great mix” of young and old, solo singers, groups, dancers, etc.

“That was an amazing group of performers,” he told the Langley Advance following the semifinals. “I enjoyed literally every group!”

To make it from auditions to the semifinals, each contestant had to exhibit a high-skill level, according to Moore, who was an adjudicator at the auditions last month and stepped up again Saturday as a judge for her third season in a row.

“What has kept me coming back as a judge is the pure fun of it,” said Moore, who has been involved in some aspect of performing arts for many years – both on and off stage – and for the past eight years has been running her own talent agency in her hometown of  Langley.

“Being a part of LHT whether as an audience member, contestant, or judge, is like walking into your TV screen and being part of one the international talent shows. The level of professionalism and detail put into this event is incredible,” she said.

What was “really impressive” this year was the calibre of the presentation, Moore added. “The semifinalists really took their talent and made it a performance with their styling and stage presence.”

For some LHT contestants, this event is the launching pad from which their careers will take off, she explained.

“For others, showing off their talent – even if they only make it to the audition stage – fulfills that dream and gives them a confidence that they carry with them into other aspects of their life,” she said.

“The hidden talent we have in Langley is worth supporting and celebrating and LHT gives everyone their opportunity to shine.”

The 2014 finalists are:

• Singers Jet Tangerine and Hugh Barbour (yes, one of the couples);

• Dancer Paige McLachlan;

• Singers and musicians from Peace of Earth trio (including an Aldergrove couple Sara Garber and Kevin Wellman);

• Singer Hayley Bouey;

• Returning singer Rachel Dunn and her beau Colson Kinna;

• Aerial hoop performer Alexandra Susheski;

• Rock band Quinn and Tonic;

• Rapper Josh G;

• Dancer Kaitlin Hartwig;

• Singer Michaela Mulder;

• The youngest of contenders returning, dancer Dante Arias; and

• Kathleen Dunn and Jesse LeBlanc (yes, another of the couples).

Two of the four Langset sisters, Jazmine and Amanda, ended up being voted the people’s choice and earned the 13th spot at the finals.

Tickets for the Rotary Club talent show finals are available online at The event begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, again at CLA.

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