Photo by Marc Parayno
When her name was announced, RichCity Idol 2017 winner Marielle Namuco crouched down, hiding her face in her hands, as the audience outdid itself.
After an evening filled with boisterous applause, an even louder roar of enthusiastic joy erupted as balloons tumbled down to the stage.
With a “Back to the ‘80s” theme, the evening in the full-to-bursting Richmond Gateway Theatre kicked off with a happy burble of excitement as the vibrant ‘80s music amped up the energy of this all-student production.
The first great roar from the crowd came when the hosts, Adelaide Chan and Chloe Chan, welcomed everyone to the 2017 show.
Another roar greeted the parting of the curtains as the show started with an enthusiastic choreographed version of all nine contestants singing, “Love Never Felt So Good,” continuing the ‘80s theme.
The contestants, representing the winner from each of the nine high schools in Richmond, sang and danced their hearts out while the judges based their scoring on musicality, charisma, and originality.
Jaspher Ladores from Cambie Secondary kicked off the performances with “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You,” accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar. His strong finish caused the room to erupt in cheers.
Angela Serias from McNair Secondary sang second. Judge and RichCity Idol voice coach, Jessica Zraly, said: “Your stage presence is amazing. You should be super proud.”
Maria Deng, the Grade 11 student representing Richmond Secondary chose, “All at Once” by Whitney Houston.
Of her, the judges said, “You completely owned it.”
Palmer’s Samuel Fernandez followed with a Bruno Mars song.
When Fernandez started to dance as well, the audience once again erupted enthusiastically. “Huge bonus points for you, for your connection with the crowd,” one judge said.
McRoberts’ Megumi Randall started her song, “Desperado” sitting on the edge of the stage.
“There’s so much confidence, maturity and beauty in what you did,” said one judge.
Then Vivian Wu from MacNeill performed with power and soul. Of her, one of the judges said: “You look like a diva and feel like a diva. Your confidence was 100 per cent.”
During Burnett student and winner Namuco’s performance, each time she reached the musical bridge, the room erupted in enthusiastic cheers.
Of the eventual winner, the judges said: “When the light didn’t come on for a second, you handled that like a boss; you didn’t let it throw you off your game at all.”
While another judge said: “You are in my opinion the highlight of tonight. You have a fantastic voice.”
Mark Cam from Steveston-London graciously thanked everyone including the backstage crew before he began to sing.
With a fedora tipped back on his head, sitting at the piano, Cam played with confidence while he sang Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” as a rueful ballad of self-discovery. The room roared and clapped as he finished.
Judge Bruce Nip said: “You can rule just about anyone with that performance. I’ve never seen a performance tonight that told a story. You did a wonderful job.”
While another judge said, “You know how Man in the Mirror was an upbeat song; I like how you turned it into a ballad. You did a really good job.”
The first half of the evening closed out with Grade 9 McMath student Audrey De Boer, the youngest of the evening.
Carrying on the ‘80s theme, De Boer rocked the joint with “Somebody to Love” by Queen.
Starting her performance quietly backlit, De Boer gradually amped it up, engaging the audience which spontaneously clapped along.
The loudest cheer of the evening blasted from attendees as she finished her number.
Judge Johnson went first. “That was a flawless vocal performance.”
Another judge said: “It’s a great way to end this first half. You have a great voice, with those huge powerhouse vocals.”
The judges then gave their choice for the five finalists: Deng, Cam, Randall, Fernandez, and Namuco.
The audience then voted, whittling the five down to the final three.
At the end of intermission, as student volunteers tallied the audience votes, MacNeill trio danced with enthusiasm and skill, the Steveston-London Dance Team wowed with their moves and precision, and last year’s RichCity Idol winner, Patrick Doctolero, performed to an enthusiastic reception.
A short series of speeches outlined the work done by students to put the entire production together, citing the three pillars of RichCity Idol: Music, community and leadership.
After the two RichCity Idol scholarships were awarded, the judges announced the audience choice for the three finalists.
Then the three huddled together while the judge’s final rankings came out.
Winner Namuco’s astonished joy was evident as soon as her name was announced. When interviewed by the hosts before her first solo, Namuco told them: “I consider myself a very awkward person. Music helps me express myself because I’m not good at coming up with words myself.”
The next question was her greatest fear.
To which Namuco replied, “Crying on stage.” By the end of RichCity Idol 2017, hers were tears of joy.
The entire production produced completely by students from the performers, the lighting and sound, the front of house, the organizers and the publicist, went off with few hitches.
Aside from a couple of slow lighting cues, possible in the most professional of productions, RichCity Idol 2017 proved that an entirely volunteer-run student production can excel. The printed program, produced by students, was well done.