The final round of the 4th Annual Perris Got Talent competition Oct. 14 proved exhausting, tense and tough.
Exhausting because the 10 teams of dancers and musicians, gymnasts and singers held nothing back trying to impress a quartet of judges who ultimately would determine the finalists and grand-prize winner.
Tense because the audience members who gathered at the Bob Glass Gym to support their favorite performer were on-edge almost as much as the artists on stage.
Tough—especially for the judges—because the competition was so keen, so close and so good.
Perris Mayor Michael Vargas, who attended the competition, said he was glad he was in the audience, not in the judges’ seats. Vargas watched the preliminary rounds of Perris Got Talent—which drew more than 50 contestants—and was in the front row for the finals.
“The quality of the entertainment has been outstanding,” Vargas said. “I’m glad I’m not a judge.”
Vargas said the competition encourages people to test themselves in the performing arts and allows them the chance to receive applause from the crowd and feedback from the judges. This year’s competition drew elementary school kids, high-school and college students and adults. He said the talent show reinforces the performers’ self-esteem and continues the City’s commitment to community engagement.
“Events like Perris Got Talent how this City continues to be engaged with this community and its residents,” Vargas said.
One of the judges, singer/songwriter Gary Gary also praised the quality of the on-stage acts as well as the City for sponsoring Perris Got Talent.
“The City of Perris is doing an amazing job,” he said. “This is a great thing for the City. The quality of the artists has been outstanding. Competitions like this are especially good for youth. They put young performers on the right path for life.”
And the winner is
The final 10 acts took to the Bob Glass stage, where each was given an opportunity to perform within its discipline. The conclusion of each performance brought loud cheers, clapping and whoops from the audience.
Eventually, judges—who repeatedly pointed out how tough the competition proved—winnowed the 10 entries to just five, who were called back to give an encore.
Following the judges’ deliberations, the winners were announced.
Taking home the top prize of $800 was Allison Heisser, 19, who won for her renditions of several Gospel songs. Heisser was overcome with emotion when she was announced as the 2017 winner of Perris Got Talent.
“I feel so good,” she said. “I feel like I want to cry tears of joy! Tonight was amazing. Just being around all these talented people is an honor.”
Heisser said she has been singing in church choirs for several years and currently attends a non-denominational Christian church. She spends a good bit of her time Gospel singing.
“I believe in working your hardest to perfect your craft,” she said.
Heisser thanked the City of Perris for sponsoring the talent competition and especially for encouraging young people to take to the stage.
“Perris has been very good about reaching out to artists who have yet reached the peak of their potential,” she said.
The hip-hop group DOPE took second place and pocketed the $500 runner-up prize. The ensemble consists of current and former Perris High School students who started out as a school group and continued dancing on their own after the dance advisor left the campus. They have appeared in all four Perris Got Talent competitions.
DOPE member Ty Bookart, 17, said the group enjoyed the competition, taking special delight in claiming second prize with only three practice sessions during the Perris Got Talent competition.
“We really had a fun time,” Bookart said. “We appreciate the City of Perris for providing so many opportunities for us to show off our talent.”
The other prize winners included:
*Third-place finisher: Clarice Gutierrez, contemporary dance routine; $200
*Fourth-place finisher: Bernadette Lachica, rhythm-and-blues singing performance: $75 gift card
*Fifth-place finisher: Miguel Wences, violin solo performance; $50 gift card