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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, June 16, 2024


The Reichhold Center for the Arts ended its 2002-2003 season last weekend on a high note with the production of STARfest9. It's hard to believe that we are facing the 10th anniversary next year of this annual showcase of Virgin Islands talent. According to the Reichhold Center's director, David Edgecombe, there will definitely be a STARfest10.
As in the past, this year's show was packed with something for everyone's taste. On Saturday, the moderate house, nearly two-thirds full, was slow to warm up, which could be due to the constant flow of latecomers. The Reichhold Center mostly has an 8 p.m. curtain; however, people were still trooping in on Saturday after 9 p.m.
This is a problem that needs to be addressed by management. It is disturbing to the audience and insulting to the performers when a stream of latecomers after the curtain has gone up are trying to find their seats, interrupting the flow of the show while having to climb past those already seated.
Edgecombe started the evening by giving well-deserved praise to his production team, most of whom have been with STARfest from the beginning. Musical director Josephine Thomas-Lewis, choreographer Malayisha Rabsatt and her assistant, Princess Penn, and set and lighting director Denise Humphrey are among those to be commended for putting on another professional and entertaining production.
Kory Davis, 2002 V.I. Carnival King, and Cherrie Wheatley handled the master and mistress of ceremony assignments with charm and ease. They also provided commentary for the modeling segment, introduced this year as a new element of the show. Juan Hughes, a professional model and makeup artist, made a significant contribution to this part of the show.
The male singing group All the Way did well on it's a capella rendition of the R&B classic "In the Still of the Night," which provided a strong opening piece. Featured dancers VIP — Jhade Pilgrim, Johanie Taylor and 2003 V.I. Carnival Queen first runner-up Michelle Wiltshire — were appealing and fun to watch.
However, most outstanding was Kmisha Counts, a 15-year-old Charlotte Amalie High School student who brought the audience to its feet with her rendition of the Dolly Parton-Whitney Houston mega-hit "I'll Always Love You." This young lady has the makings of a major star. She's also a contestant in this year's Hal Jackson's Talented Teen competition scheduled for the Reichhold in July.
Her mom, attorney Denise George Counts, told me: "Kmisha has done a lot of singing since she was very young, but her voice really matured in the last year. I'm thrilled that she is doing so well."
Another highlight of the show was singer Osayande McCleverty, who is seeking a recording deal on the mainland and came back, to the delight of his screaming fans, just to do STARfest9. Singer Naomi, from St. Croix, added her sultry-bluesy voice and stage presence to the mix.
Edgecombe found an enjoyable way to meld the old and the new in his choice of material for the show. It was good to hear some of the big hits from years gone by and also to bring them to the attention of these young performers. The use of digital video as an introduction mechanism to bring the performers on stage is a good idea that needs some fine tuning.
The big news from Edgecombe is his intention to submit videotapes of this year's production to "American Idol," "Fame" and "Star Search," among other talent seekers. "One of the underlying aspects is to get STARfest participants more exposure to the recording industry and talent scouts," he said. "We recognize that any one of these shows featuring talent from all over the country is also available to us here in the U.S. Virgin Islands."
Locally, Edgecombe has been negotiating with TV2 to produce a variety show. "Television is the most powerful medium on earth — and it's a joy to watch your local folks perform," he said. "It also is self-empowering for these young people to see themselves on the air."
V.I. hopefuls may soon get another chance at stardom. The Disney Co. is coming to the Virgin Islands to cast for its Tony award-winning Broadway show "The Lion King."
"We were contacted through the Department of Tourism's office in New York that Disney was interested in the talent here in the territory," Edgecombe said. "Auditions for singers will be held at the Reichhold Center on Monday, June 30, and they will see dancers on Tuesday, July 1st. The callbacks will be on Wednesday, July 2."
Edgecombe is calling on all STARfest alumni to take advantage of this opportunity and come out for the Disney auditions.
And that's not all. Edgecombe for a long time has wanted to write and produce a local television sitcom, and he has plans to tackle that during his hiatus this summer.
Hats off to the STARfest9 cast. With all the talent abound here, I wouldn't be surprised to see one of our own "making it big," on television or even Broadway, in the near future.

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