Thanks to the efforts of the Pre-RAG Week committee and the UNICEF Society, the annual St Andrews Got Talent was a resounding success Wednesday night. In a pre-show interview, UNICEF Society President Dan Meagher commented, “St Andrews Got Talent has been an annual success for the UNICEF Society, bringing in a sizeable donation each year, and we’re really looking forward to this year’s show.” This is despite the trouble with securing the site for the performance, which normally occurs during RAG Week in the spring. However, everyone pitched in the effort to keep the show alive, said judge Kyle Blain, and the committee certainly did a fantastic job transforming the somewhat bleak Venue 1 into a decorative and intimate performance space.
Hosted by the hilarious Leon O’Rourke (who rocked his beat-boxing talent a couple times throughout the night), the show was jam-packed with talent, including an electric intermission performance by ever-popular a cappella group The Other Guys. As judge and Mermaids President Ben Anderson pointed out, the event brought people from all disciplines of study into one space to perform an incredible variety of different works, often with the same basic instruments. There was great variety in the musical acts, from Yasmin Hamze’s cover of Rita Ora’s “I Will Never Let You Down” fused with an Arabic song, to Sebastian Torti and Jessica Cooper’s acoustic and enthusiastic cover of the Proclaimer’s “500 Miles,” to Lucy Coatman’s passionate rendition of “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” from Evita. Kieran Tait, Alex Glass, Sergey Drobysh, and Surabi Desai all produced soulful guitar covers of songs that left the audience swaying, while Courtney Hays and Charlotte Grove filled the room with their powerful voices. Duo Hannah Kolb and George Kakas killed it with a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” Two poetry acts also took the stage, with Emma Middleton (last year’s runner-up) and Jessica Yin delivering exciting and emotional pieces of spoken word poetry. Abel Farkas, the only magician of the night, elicited the most visceral reaction from the audience as he swallowed a set of razor blades and proceeded to remove them from his mouth on a piece of floss.
Hands-down, the show was a success. Judge Julia Sawatzky of the Blue Angels Dance team commented that she was thrilled to see so many people “who you just pass on the street whip out this incredible talent!” Equally pleased was Sean McDonald, the final judge and head of STAR Broadcasting, who produced wonderfully awful puns throughout the evening and said he was pleasantly surprised with the amount of talent on the stage (and the potential for recruiting new faces for STAR). The ultimate winners, “The Relatives” (academic brother-sister duo Hannah Kolb and George Kakas), were decided by a clap-off against their fellow finalists, Emma Middleton and the duo of Sebastian Torti and Jessica Cooper. The Relatives gave an encore performance of “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon, as seen below. Hannah and George said they were thrilled to have won, but both expressed how much they enjoyed getting to know the other performers, playing games and bonding backstage.
The place was packed for a Week 10 Wednesday night, and certainly raised a sizeable sum for UNICEF Society. Congratulations to the UNICEF Society and the Pre-RAG Week Committee for putting together a fantastic show, and to all the incredible acts that took the stage. And shout out to Emma Middleton, who of all the acts most touched on the themes of UNICEF, in her poem which spoke about the beauty and misery of the world, as well as her desires to change the world. “Don’t you dare call this shit gutsy,” she warned, so Emma, I won’t—but thank you for reminding us of everything there is to be done in the world, and of the true purpose of the night.
**BONUS! Catching up with the performers backstage:
Charlotte Grove, on how she chose her song, “Don’t Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet,” from Nashville: “I used to sing opera and I also did a cappella, but I’ve never done country before—I just wanted to try something risky!”
Emma Middleton, on how she got into spoken-word poetry: “Well, I used to want to be a rapper…”
Sebastian Torti and Jessica Cooper, on why “500 Miles”: “Because we love Scotland!”
Kieran Tait, on why he chose “Valerie”: “I just messed around with the chords, and the song fit, so I went with it.”
Alex Glass and Sergey Drobysh, on how they picked up guitar:
Sergey: “I slowly grew into it as I got older.”
Alex: “I just wanted to make some noise about the house…”
Hannah Kolb and George Kakas, on how they became a duo: “We were in the same academic family, and discovered we both sang, so…we just started singing together!