A talent show in Langley will help to feed the hungry

Members of the Island Dance Competition Team will perform at the Mother of All Talent Shows on Saturday, May 8 at South Whidbey High School Auditorium. - Photo courtesy of Good Cheer
Members of the Island Dance Competition Team will perform at the Mother of All Talent Shows on Saturday, May 8 at South Whidbey High School Auditorium.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Good Cheer

A couple of suave impresarios are “puttin’ on the Ritz” for a talent show blitz.

Good Cheer staff member Damien Cortez and 9-year-old JaNoah Spratt, an avid community activist, have organized a talented lineup of more than 25 acts for a Good Cheer Food Bank fundraiser on Saturday, May 8.

“The Mother of All Talent Shows” will be an evening packed with a variety of show stoppers and laughs at the South Whidbey High School auditorium.

Competitors will be subject to the whims and fancies of a discerning panel of judges á la “America’s Got Talent,” including Jean Shaw, Mike McInerney, Lynn Willeford and Deana Duncan. The evening’s host will be the Ryan Seacrest of South Whidbey, the ever-enthusiastic emcee Jim Freeman.

The five-minute acts vary from competition dance teams to local duos such as Sage Brush and Juniper, to classical music, fiddle and banjo music, a fire spinner and swordplay and karate demonstrations.

Local talent rushed to sign up for the show, but there was only so much room on the marquee.

“We had to turn away enough talent to book a second night,” Cortez said.

“If this year goes well, and the high school will have us back, we are going to do two nights next year!”

Cortez said the idea for the talent show came out of JaNoah’s enthusiasm for supporting the food bank. Having previously raised funds for the organization, JaNoah was chosen as tour guide for state Rep. Norma Smith when she visited the food bank, and the idea was sparked during their meeting. Cortez was the perfect partner for JaNoah, having studied theater.

“This event started out as kind of an exercise for JaNoah and myself,” Cortez said.

“It has grown into one of the biggest things we’ve ever done. We didn’t realize how much the community missed this until we started hearing a response from around town,” he said, referring to the wildly popular South Whidbey annual talent show of yore.

Cortez said he is impressed with his young partner’s commitment to feeding other people.

“I hope that we have a packed house,” JaNoah said.

“I hope that we have to turn people away. I want to fill all 550 seats.”

It’s hard to get one’s mind around a 9-year-old with such a large goal, but JaNoah said it was a no-brainer when he first heard about Good Cheer Food Bank at a Fourth of July party he attended a few years ago.

“One of the people there told me about all the hungry people on Whidbey Island and I knew I had to help,” JaNoah said.

“He’s so articulate and he’s hard to say ‘no’ to,” Cortez added. “That’s how we got the community to sponsor such awesome raffle and contestant prizes.”

Funds will be raised through ticket sales and a raffle during the event, for which JaNoah would like to sell at least 1,000 tickets.

Guests will be able to participate in a raffle for more than $4,000 in prizes at the end of the show.

Prizes include a light electric vehicle valued at $1,499, and hotel/spa package at the Inn at Langley and Spa Essencia valued at $650, a three-month membership at Island Athletic Club, a Half Link Bicycle Shop mountain bike valued at

$409, plus several more items. (A full list of prizes can be found online at

Cortez said he loves his work because having the advantage of helping someone every day makes the day a little easier.

“It makes even the hardest days worth it,” he said.

Doors open at 7 p.m. for seating, and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is $10 and includes one raffle ticket for adults. Both admission and raffle tickets may be purchased in advance at any Good Cheer site and also at the door. Raffle tickets are $2 each,

$10 for seven or $20 for 20. Raffle ticket holders don’t need to be present to win.

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