By TOM MILLHOUSE
Ohio Has Talent! returns for its 12th year on Feb. 23 at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert. This year’s show features 20 acts hailing from around the region competing for prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 determined by audience votes.
The show, which starts at 7 p.m., is presented by Community Health Professionals and is a benefit for hospice patient care through CHP Home Care & Hospice. “Ohio Has Talent! raises between $15,000-$17,000 to benefit the CHP Hospice patient care fund, which fills the gap for uncovered patient care expenses throughout our service area,” said Greg Yinger, CHP community relations and public education coordinator.
Ohio Has Talent! has proven to be a popular event since its inception. “We always expect a large crowd of around 1,000,” Yinger said. The Vaughn triplets, Addy, Marlee, and Nora, of St. Henry were second in last year’s contest, trailing winners Dru and Michaella Johnson by a single vote. Winners are selected by the audience.
The 2019 contestants are:
- Nathallie Alcime is a native New Yorker who enjoys traveling and sharing her vocal gifts. She has a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Nyack College. She is completing a master’s degree and an internship at Grace Church in eastern Ohio area as a worship leader.
- Nicole Baringer is a native of Defiance and a 2013 Ball State University graduate, where she studied Musical Theatre and Spanish. Nicole is no stranger to the stage and grew up singing at church and in community theatre productions. She is a flight attendant for American Airlines and loves traveling the world.
- Erin Clune is a senior at St. Henry High School and has a voice made for the stage. She is involved in band, choir, and drama and loves musical theatre. She also participates in the Crescent Players Theatre group.
- Raegan Cox is a freshman at Miller City-New Cleveland School. Reagan has been singing and entertaining most of her life. She has performed with various groups at school and was selected to perform with the All-State Choir. She is a member of the Youth Theatre at the Marathon Center for Performing Arts in Findlay and enjoys swimming and band.
- Dance Trio consisting of Emily Lichtle, Chloe Nielsen, and Alecta Baxter makes its Ohio Has Talent debut with a routine full of dance, gymnastics, and plenty of sass! The girls are dance students at Kim Hohman’s Dance Works in Van Wert.
- Aleiya Douglas is from Fostoria and attends Elmwood High School where she performs in musicals and is part of the school choir. Besides her love for music, Aleiya is active in volleyball, track, student council, and is the vice president of her class.
- Myia Etzler is a student at Crestview Middle School in Van Wert Co. This is Myia’s first year to audition for Ohio Has Talent, but she has been to past finals and is excited to step onto the NPAC stage. Besides music, Myia also enjoys basketball and volleyball.
- Jason French is originally from Tahlequah, Ok. and has been singing since age three and playing the piano since age nine. He became his church’s pianist at age 11 and pursued his love of music in college where he studied classical and jazz voice and jazz piano. Jason and his family moved to Ohio to serve as a teacher for worship studies at Cedarville University. He serves as the worship leader at Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville.
- Katelyn Hanes is a sophomore at Tri-Village High School in New Madison. She is involved in show choir, participates in solo and ensemble contests, and is a cheerleader.
- Isabella Jo “Courtney Jo” Harr hails from South Shore, Ky. but has roots in the Convoy area. She learned about Ohio Has Talent while visit family during the Van Wert County Fair. Courtney Jo loves both Country and Gospel music and is known as a “little lady with the big voice.”
- Emma Rose Kyler is a student at Shawnee Middle School in Lima. Emma has been singing and dancing since age three. She has been in several musicals, dance competitions, and was chosen to sing The Star-Spangled Banner during the OHSAA State Basketball Tournament.
- Isaac and Joscie LeFevre return for their second year in Ohio Has Talent! Isaac is an eighth-grade student at Ft. Recovery Middle School and is active in band, choir, and quiz bowl. He enjoys both music and drama, along with watching movies and playing video games. Joscie is in the seventh grade at Ft. Recovery and participates in the band, choir, and student council. She also loves musical theatre, and both Isaac and Joscie have been in several musical productions.
- Mississinawa Valley Premier Taiko Drums will perform a unique Japanese style of drumming and choreography that combines cultural costuming. The ensemble features students from fifth grade-high school and is among only two such Taiko drumming groups in the State of Ohio. Members are Maria Ojeda, Mackenzie Hamilton, Gabby Rammel, Cammie Johns, Adam Manning, Angel Avilez, and Brandon White; under the direction of Audrey Hathaway.
- Spencer Pauquette returns to Ohio Has Talent with an addition to his talented guitar skills; the Van Wert High School sophomore will be playing and singing. Spencer began playing guitar at nine and is active as a worship leader for the children’s ministry and in the worship band at Calvary Evangelical Church. Spencer hopes to pursue music as a career.
- Connor Raines is a vocalist/guitarist from the Lima area. He has been playing guitar since age five and began adding vocals at age eight. He began playing with the Minor Blues Band in Lima at age nine. This Bath Middle School student enjoys a variety of musical styles.
- Lily Rindler is an eighth grader at New Bremen Middle School. Lily began singing from a very young age and has never stopped pursuing her passion for singing. Lily enjoys performing with a local theater group, Crescent Players, and sings at Holy Redeemer Church in New Bremen and weddings. Lily participated in the OMEA Honors Choir and Band and Ohio State Middle School Honor Band. She is also involved in cross country, track, and softball. Lily dedicates all her performances to her late father from whom she received her love for singing.
- Lauren Jean Schroeder of Celina is performing in her second Ohio Has Talent! Lauren loves to sing, but also plays piano and guitar and has been performing most of her life. She will entertain the audience with a vocal and piano piece.
- Grace Truesdale is a homeschooled middle school student from Celina. She has a passion for musical theatre and has been performing since she was eight years old. She takes vocal lessons from Karen Meiring and dances with Enpointe Dance Studio. Grace also enjoys playing the ukulele, rollerblading with friends, and playing video games. She hopes to pursue a career in theatre.
- Natalie Uhlenhake is a sophomore at St. Henry High School and has been playing guitar since the seventh grade. Natalie loves performing and is active in band, drama club and the Crescent Players, along with multiple church choirs. She will be combining her musical talents and sense of humor for her performance at Ohio Has Talent!
- Tess Vonderwell is a middle school student at Delphos St. John’s. She is involved in choir, concert band, marching band, church choir and has been involved with numerous musicals. Tess also has five older brothers!
Noting that only past winners are prevented from competing, Yinger said many contestants return for another chance at taking home prize money. “By allowing some contestants to return, you see them grow in their skill and stage presence,” he said. “For example, Gabe Bailey was our winner two years ago. He had been in the show a couple of times before, but as he got older he honed his skills and won,” Yinger said.
Tickets are available through Community Health Professionals, 419-238-9223 or at the Niswonger ticket office, 419-238-6722 and online at npacvw.org.