Kirkwood High Singer-Guitarist Wins St. Louis Teen Talent Competition

On Saturday, April 13, fifteen metro area high school acts brought the crowd to their feet when they performed on stage at The Fabulous Fox Theatre in the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition Finals. 

Students competed for more than $40,000 in college scholarships, cash awards and special prizes. A full list of prizes and winners along with official event information can be found on the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation’s (FPACF) website

The distinguished panel of judges, performing arts professionals with careers spanning film, TV and Broadway, had the difficult job of judging the acts on interpretation, stage presence, technical ability, and originality.

1st place was awarded to 17-year-old singer and guitarist Joanna Serenko from Kirkwood High School who performed “Valerie.”  Joanna received an $8,000 college scholarship, which is underwritten by Ameren Corporation Charitable Trust.  2nd place and a $6,000 college scholarship went to Samanvita Kasthuri, a 16-year-old from Parkway South High School, for her original Bharatnatyam dance performance “Equal.”  K.O. Duo, 18-year-old seniors Oliver Layher (St. John Vianney) and Kryan Walton (Metro Academic & Classical High School) took the $4,000 scholarship for 3rd place for their hand-to-hand partner acrobatic performance. 

The $1,000 cash Audience Choice Award went to modern/contemporary dancers and seniors Arielle Adams, DessaRae Lampkins, Brooke Reese, and De’Jai Walker from Hazelwood Central High School.

Numerous additional special awards and prizes went to finalists and semi-finalists.  A list of all prize winners can be found at the FPACF website.  The group of 24 finalists will also have the opportunity to perform at a variety of events around the metro area.  2019 public appearances scheduled to date include the The Muny, National Dance Week, Taste of Maplewood, Gateway Grizzlies, Shakespeare Festival, and the Rising Stars Showcase.

Now in its 9th year, the professionally produced show was written and directed by Tony Parise (Broadway actor, dancer, director, choreographer and St. Louis native), with musical direction by Stephen Neale (composer, conductor, pianist), and choreographed by Yvonne Meyer Hare (Professional Dance Center).  The 2018 first place winner, Nicaya Wiley, returned to perform a contemporary dance to “Feeling Good” with a male ensemble from COCA.  

The Finals were recorded by The Nine Network for a special St. Louis Teen Talent Competition program to be aired on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 7 p.m. (with rebroadcasts on May 24 at 2 a.m. and May 26 at 11 a.m.).  This special presentation is supported by Mary Strauss and Webster University, which will provide the opportunity for a broader audience to experience the joy and magic that these aspiring artists bring to the Fox stage.

The 10th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition at The Fabulous Fox will be held on Saturday, April 4, 2020. 

Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation fosters, promotes, and encourages young people in the St. Louis region to discover and participate in the joy and wonder of live performances.

In addition to the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition, the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation also produces a variety of other performing arts programs that focus on youth including Kids’ Night at the Fabulous Fox, Broadway Master Classes, Educational Encores, and is a producing partner of the 2nd Annual St. LouisHigh School Musical Theatre Awards.

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