Emma Foley dazzled in a blue dress as she danced a special solo to kick off the second annual Compete for a Cause Talent Show on Saturday night in City Park.
Foley was the face of this year’s show, representing the Special Olympics in a fundraiser that showcased the artistry of people from around the Big Horn Basin and brought in more than $8,000 for the group.
Organizers want to make it an annual event the first Saturday in August.
Emceed by KODI radio’s Andrew Rossi and interspersed with live “commercials” for entertainment, the talent show featured six divisions and some of the best performers in Wyoming.
There was dancing, singing, and even an original monologue about a roadkill collector who dreamed of the bright lights of Broadway.
Cody High School junior Drew Trotter broke out an original song that had many in the crowd waving lit phones in time with the music like the lighters at the concerts of old. The song is part of an album that is releasing this week.
Jaida Brice’s roadkill collector left the audience in stitches when her character lost her job and looked at a cart full of stuffed animal roadkill and said, “Well, at least I have dinner covered.”
Carlyn Murray’s Irish and Riverdance fusion stole the show and gave her the top prize of the evening, something that caught her by surprise.
“I was super excited when I got first place,” the 10-year-old said. “Since I had older competition I was outnumbered and when (Jace Grant’s) Maui came on, I was just like, ‘Wow.’ And then when I heard my sponsor I was like, ‘Yes.’ It’s the best feeling ever.”
People’s Choice Winner Aubrianne Crosby couldn’t believe it either when her performance of “Jessica’s Theme” from The Man From Snowy River won her the award.
“I was totally shocked,” the Cowley native said. “I can only imagine it’s because people are familiar with it. I’ve had multiple people as I’ve performed at other programs, tell me that they love that song and movie. That’s the reason I play it. My grandpa loves it and I play it every Sunday at his house.”
The contestants had all ranges of experience performing, from some picking up their craft only a year ago to those who had been honing their skills since they were old enough to sit at a piano.
CHS sophomore Micah Idema arranged his own music for his competition-opening performance, putting together a piano medley from the Broadway hit Phantom of the Opera.
“I really never learned to arrange,” he said. “I hear a piece and try to play it, and sometimes it sounds kind of like I want it to. This time it did more than any other, so I wanted to write it down. It’s really my first piece I’ve ever arranged.”
The first-time arranger won his division.
The dance trio from Powell of Jaxton Braten, Rachel Bruce and Gabriel Sanchez, on the other hand, had been dancing for years, but Saturday was the first time all three had performed together. They showcased a funny medley of dances featured in videos on TikTok and showcased their hip-hop dance skills.
“When everyone was going on, it’s fun to show what everyone can do,” Sanchez said. “But I think it was also fun to do it for the cause because whenever it goes to a good cause, that’s what it’s all about. So many people showed up and that was a really good thing, too.”
Here are the final results from the competition:
Overall Winner: Carlyn Murray, Irish/Riverdance to Everybody Dance Now
People’s Choice: Aubrianne Crosby, Piano solo, “Jessica’s Theme” from The Man from Snowy River
11 and Under Division: 1st place, Carlyn Murray, Irish/Riverdance to Everybody Dance Now; 2nd place, Vivian Schubiner-Brauser, vocal solo, For the First Time in Forever from Disney’s Frozen
12-13 Division: 1st place, Jaida Brice, original monologue, Roadkill Dreamer; 2nd place, Melissa Merritt, piano solo, All of Me
14-15 Division: 1st place, Micah Idema, piano solo, original arrangement The Phantom of the Opera Medley; 2nd place, Kinsley Merritt, piano solo, original compilation Disney Meets Rock
16-17 Division: 1st place, Jace Grant, vocal solo, You’re Welcome from Disney’s Moana; 2nd place, Drew Trotter, guitar and voice, original song, I Miss You
18+ Division: 1st place, Eliana Karhu, vocal solo, I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables; 2nd place, Aubrianne Crosby, piano solo, Jessica’s Theme from The Man from Snowy River
Group Division: 1st place, Jaxton, Rachel, & Gabriel, hip-hop dance, TikTok Medley; 2nd place, Abby, Kenna, & Erin, acrobatics and dance to Wings