NRCA’s Annual Talent Showcase at the NRPL

Novice performer Tecumseh Mora with seasoned veteran storyteller Jim Swinehart.

The New Rochelle Council on the Arts’ annual Talent Showcase took place Sunday, March 19th with 10 acts entertaining, amusing and electrifying the audience at the Ossie Davis Theater. NRCA Board members Selena Evans and Monica Deane organized the show, choosing ten acts from the 30 that applied.


“I’m always fascinated to see the talent we have right here in the community,” said NRCA President Theresa Kump Leghorn. “For me the highlight was seeing Tecumseh Mora make his debut, playing before an audience for the first time. That’s what this annual show is all about, giving our local musicians, dancers and spoken word artists a chance to strut their stuff in a professionally-managed show in front of a live audience.”


NRCA Board member Selena Evans, who coordinated the show, said “I loved the showcase because of the diversity, from Shakespeare to R&B music. Each performance was unique in itself. The performers’ talent and dedication shone through in every moment, and it was an absolute pleasure to watch them perform. Their hard work and dedication to their craft were evident in every note, movement, or gesture.”


Selena Evans had assistance from stage managers Juliana Errington and Richard Errington as well as Caleb and Isaac Evans and the NRPL’s Tobe Sevush. In addition, NRCA Board members Marisa Boan, Margaret Chadwick, Leslie Demus, Dave Fabris, Karen Keller Selman and Theresa Kump Leghorn were on hand to assist with set up and crowd management. Selfless Caterers provided snacks for the performers and audience members at a reception following the show.


Richard Hackman opened the show with his moving original song “Remember Me.” He was followed by New Rochelle High School’s Renaissance Gospel Choir, which sang two songs, “You Are Near” and “Perfect Praise.” The group, led by Jeremy Barbaro, includes Abigail Demosthene (President), Analy Barragan, Donna Djalo, Javeda Edwards, Delaney Jacobs, Lei-Asia Velez, Isaac Evans, Elizabeth Cruz and Bryce Geohagen.


Next up Kamran Saliani, founder of the Irvington Shakespeare Company, performed a scene from William Shakespeare’s King Richard III adapted from “Acting Shakespeare by Ian McKellan.”He was followed by Angelique Bivens, who danced to “For Every Mountain,” a song recorded by Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers.

Tecumseh Mora made his stage debut, playing two guitar pieces, the first on electric guitar and the second on acoustic guitar. Caribbean-born residents Gajanan and Barmir Nataraj followed the guitar solo, singing an original duet, “Nourrus l’ame moi”, in their native language, Haitian Creole.


Humorist Jim Swinehart read from his book of wryly relatable poems “It’s Here Somewhere and Other Poems.” A sample verse: “My intention is firm/but I can see why you scoff/I mean to procrastinate/but keep putting it off.”


Then New Rochelle High School’s Theatre Works performed two numbers from their upcoming spring musical, “Love’s Labour’s Lost”. The talented troupe included Matt Boggi, Elena Wasserman, Alan Diamod, Thomas Boigris, Nate Dower, Madeline Basch, Senha Verghese, Julianna Rizzo, Daniel Bodkin, Serene Rochmond, Skye Hill, Michael Herrera, Milo Freedenverf, and Emma Lichtman under the direction of NRHS teacher Lisbeth Lynn.


R & B band The Steele closed out the show, rocking the house with their versions of “Before I Let Go,” “Misty Blue” and “Borderline.” The group is led by Tony Cohen, bass player and musical director.


Lisbeth Lynn, TheatreWorks Advisor, said “The members of Theatre Works enjoyed  performing, as well as being present to see and hear all of the other talented performers in the Showcase. [Everyone] involved in the organizing of the Showcase was so inviting and professional and made the process exceptionally rewarding.”