Sears wins Haywood's Got Talent

By Michelle Bacallao | Sep 16, 2013
Photo by: John Highsmith The Raq Sharaka Dance Company was one of the contestants at Haywood's Got Talent.

A Tuscola High School student walked away with top honors and $1,000 at the Haywood's Got Talent competition at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre Saturday.

Ben Sears has been acting, singing and dancing for years.

“I've been a triple threat since I was 9,” he said with a grin.

Sears performed “Electricity” from “Billy Elliot,” a British drama film and musical he selected because it showcases singing and dancing.

“It had a good mix of both,” said Sears.

Sears said he was both shocked and excited to win the competition. His audition was planned only two to three days in advance at the urging of studio owner and friends from MusicWorks, where owner Lynne Wells-Meyer offers classes in performing arts.

On top of teaching and working at MusicWorks, Sears practices an average of eight hours a week. Over the course of eight years, he has taken classes in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, musical theater and more.

At HART, Sears has performed in “Jane Eyre” and “Seussical.” He has performed with MusicWorks in “Once on this Island” and will be in their upcoming show, “The Little Mermaid.” Sears will use his winnings towards his college fund and hopes to attend Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.


An ongoing success

This year marked the third annual production of Haywood's Got Talent at the HART Theater in downtown Waynesville. The event, hosted by Steve Lloyd, featured 13 acts that offered everything from vocalists singing Broadway, classical, country and folk; belly dancers; a harpist; a pianist and a comedian.

Contestants included the Raq Shuraka Dance Company, Kara White, Hannah Brooke, Sears, Charlotte Rogers, Productive Paranoia, Ricky Sanford, Samantha Mulholland, Dominic Frost, Reagan Mulvey, Madison Garris, Emilie Thompson and Randy Robins.

Judges Wanda Taylor, Anne Rhymer Schwabland and Raymond Yarnutoski each had a 25 percent vote in the contest, with the audience as the fourth vote. Taylor is one of HART's most experienced directors and actresses, Schwabland is the composer of HART's “A Christmas Carol” and Yarnutoski is a former salon owner, lighting technician, DJ and theater previewer for the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Dominic Frost, a 17-year-old guitarist and singer, who performed the well-known “You've Got a Friend in Me,” captured second-place. Frost said he was inspired by the music of John Mayer.

Third place winner, Ricky Sanford, is a singer and actor who performed “The Smell of Rebellion” from the Broadway show “Mathilde.” Aiding in his comedic performance were friends Cord Scott, Alexa Grant, Bryan Nicholls and Lex Menz.

Haywood's Got Talent was presented as a fundraiser for HART, a volunteer-based community theater located at 250 Pigeon St. in downtown Waynesville.

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