Comedy pair wows, wins 2018 Louisville’s Got Talent

Maddie Touma and Will Tway took top honors at Louisville’s Got Talent. See photo gallery, page 16. (Community photos by Tara Cocco)

The comedy duo of Maddie Touma and Will Tway won the Northern Trust Grand Champion Award at the 2018 Louisville’s Got Talent, winning an event that raised $16,000, far outstripping previous years.
Touma and Tway performed a duo interpretation entitled “The Greek Olympiaganza.” Throughout their performance they set the rules of not being able to touch or make eye contact with one another.
“Will and Maddie happen to be really good friends of mine,” said Jake Latts, the show’s founder and co-emcee. “I had no idea that they were the winners until the envelope was handed to me to announce it. It was so cool.”
LGT grew to record numbers this year, selling more than 450 tickets to the finale. It was enough that the event had to be move from The J to the Clifton Center, a venue with 50% more seating and it was still sold out.
More than 100 people auditioned earlier at The J for this year’s competition, which supports CenterStage Acting Out, but only 20 were chosen to grace the stage of the Clifton Center on Sunday, March 25, each hoping to be crowned the 2018 champion.
The show is based on the on the national program America’s Got Talent.
The popular stage event was started by Jake Latts. It benefits CenterStage’s Acting Out, a professional, touring children’s theatre troupe that travels to schools and community venues.
Latts and Dawne Gee of WAVE 3 were the emcees for this year’s program
I came up with the idea for Louisville’s Got Talent as a mitzvah project for my bar mitzvah, Latts said. “At the time, we didn’t know if we would have 10 or 100 kids audition. Each year we have had more and more kids audition, more publicity and raised more money.
The JCC staff has been amazing in planning everything,” he added. “It has been awesome being involved in all aspects working with them.”
The judges were formidable array of performing talent themselves: Claudia Benack, associate voice teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; Chad Broskey of Dancesation Studios, Jason Clayborn, a Louisville-born, Grammy-nominated gospel singer; Erika Denise, fine arts coordinator at Louisville Central Community Center; Andrea Diggs, funder and director of Kidsview; and Ben Sollee, a Kentucky-born cellist, singer-songwriter and composer.
This year’s acts ranged from singing and dancing to rapping and acting to magicians and harpists.
The other winners were:
• Annie Thomas, who won The Jake Latts People’s Choice Award. A first grader, Thomas sang “Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” from the musical Annie.
• Lucy Jenkins and Mackenzie Vosters, who won The Max and Ellen Shapira Age 6-12 division with their dance performance to the song “I’m a Lady.”
• Olivia Manning and Riley Fussenegger won the Bingham Greenbaum Doll Age 13-18 division for their performance of a musical duet done to “What is this Feeling?” from the musical Wicked. The two embodied their characters and made the song believable for those who are familiar with the musical.
The rest of the finalists were Ty Brown, Emmie Siegel, Emma Baumrucker, Leah Clark, Rylee Taylor, Aubrey Clark, Veronica Rodionova, Grace Yates, Annie Thomas, Or Ben-Yehuda, Annie Dauk, Darius Ca’Mel, Sophia Baete, Sarah Martel, Emily Lancaster, Sarah-Kate Wiseman, Lily Maguire, Meagan Maguire, Christian Beck, and Marie and Simon Gabski.
CenterStage Acting Out, the beneficiary of Louisville’s Got Talent, is professional touring children’s theatre troupe that travels to schools and other community venues, presenting educational musical theater to students of all ages.
“It’s theater that reaches kids that normally would not get a chance to see theater,” said Frank Goodloe III, CenterStage production manager, “exposing them to theater and what theater is all about.”

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