Stars of Tomorrow: Youths display talents in annual show
By CHUCK BALLARO
After a grueling weekend of trying to impress the judges, some of Southwest Florida’s most talented youths displayed their abilities Sunday in front of friends and family at the Cultural Park Theatre.
The 23rd annual Stars of Tomorrow scholarship program, sponsored by the Cape Coral Council for Arts and Humanities, climaxed with a command performance from 25 school-aged children who placed in the top two in the categories of drama, dance, vocals and instrumental in the elementary, middle and high school levels.
As usual, the talent just keeps getting better as the best of those who auditioned Friday and Saturday were called back to perform again and learn if they finished first.
June Sommerfield, who has run the program from its inception, said it was another great weekend.
“Once again, our judges came out and said ‘Wow, how are we going to pick winners?’ The fun part is I’ve been part of it for 23 years and I’ve seen these kids grow up,” Sommerfield said. “They call and tell me they valued their time on Stars of Tomorrow because it gave them confidence. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Sommerfield said some of those who performed in the program have gone on to perform on Broadway and in Hollywood; among them was Leon Wolfe, who was emcee at the event.
The program also gave nearly $2,600 in scholarship money, with $100 going to the winners and $75 for runners-up in every age group and category.
Four performers double-dipped, winning in two categories, which Sommerfield said can be a concern because she fears they may spread themselves thin and not perfect any one talent.
Still much of what the kids showed was terrific. Most of the drama performances were of a comedic nature, while everyone in the instrumental group played the piano.
Joey Worley, a senior at North Fort Myers High School, took top prize in both drama and vocal, with the scholarship money being the icing on the cake.
“I honestly didn’t expect the money. I just did this for the experience. It’s a fun experience everyone should enjoy,” said Worley, who has performed at the Broadway Palm and in New York City.
Allyson Rogers, 9, of Peleican Elementary, took first in vocal and second in drama. In her words she was “really, really, really, REALLY happy.”
“I’ve worked on all these things since I was 5. I’m looking to star in the school play,” Rogers said.
Angelina Lemons, 8, who won in drama and took second in vocal, was proud to win two categories.
“I’ve never won money before. I tried out for this last year and didn’t make it so I was upset,” said Lemons, who is auditioning for the role of Helen Keller this year. “I’m going on a cruise today, so I want to spend money on that for my best friend and me. All I can ask for is people to smile.”
Sommerfield said the program is meant to bring out kids’ talents and, at 92, she said it’s the main thing that keeps her going after all these years.
“Everyone has to have a meaning in life, and the performing arts give these kids a chance to have positive meaning. They may not be good in sports but they can sing,” Sommerfield said. “It’s what keeps me young.”