When Michael Smallwood, ’19, went to see a show at Zoellner Arts Center last semester, he decided he wanted to start playing the piano. After learning a few songs in a few short months, Smallwood shared his newfound knack for music at the second season of Lehigh’s Got Talent.
Smallwood was one of seven performers who participated in the first round of this year’s competition on Sept. 22 in Lamberton Hall.
The show exhibited a range of talents and abilities from Lehigh students, which is what Connor Cragon, ’19, intended when he created the club last year.
“This year is a lot more diverse,” Cragon said. “Last year we had mostly just music and band groups. This year we had dancing, Chinese yo-yo and comedy.”
The participants all compete for different charities and a fundraising concert in the spring gives the winner an opportunity to raise money for the charity of their choice. Cragon said last year’s winner, Shazeb Fahim, ’20, raised about $200 for Pratham USA, an organization that improves educational programs in India.
The performers spent time perfecting their acts for the competition. Smallwood took advantage of Lehigh’s resources to practice his singing and keyboard skills.
“I went to Zoellner Arts Center and used the practice rooms,” Smallwood said. “This past week I went there every day after work and practiced.”
After each performance, student judges are given the opportunity to provide feedback and praise. Smallwood said he appreciated their responses and the sincerity of their comments.
The event is free of charge and open to all students on campus. Cragon said after students watch the performances, they can participate in the competition by voting for their favorite act through a Google Form on the Lehigh’s Got Talent Facebook page.
The event was offered as a fulfillment for a 5×10 requirement for first-year students. Marta Kasica-Soltan, ’21, and Molly Benning, ’21, attended the show and said they were amazed by one of Lehigh’s dance groups, Helius.
Helius performed to a soundtrack mash-up, showcasing an intently choreographed sequence of intense and precise dance moves.
“That was really cool, and they were all so in sync,” Benning said.
The Lehigh’s Got Talent competition features two more nights of performances as acts are eliminated leading up to the finale. The second round will be held on Oct. 6, and the finale will be held on Oct. 20.
“It’s really a lot of fun and I’m really happy with how it turned out this year,” Cragon said. “Definitely a big improvement from our kick-off last year.”
The club plans to expand outside of the Lehigh’s Got Talent series. While the fall competition will remain the same, Cragon said they would like to extend their events schedule for the spring.
“We’ve talked about maybe doing stuff with Greek life, and we’ve talked about maybe other types of competitions like ‘Jeopardy!’ or ‘Family Feud,'” he said.
Since the club is relatively new, Cragon said they would like to gain more presence on campus. He said the club is always happy to welcome new members and see new talent.
Cragon emphasized that putting on a show with variety in the acts was the main goal of the event. The competition is not limited to certain types of talent, and all performers are encouraged to be part of the event.
“That’s the whole point of Lehigh’s Got Talent,” Cragon said. “We didn’t want to be just an open-mic thing. We wanted to really showcase the diversity on campus and all the different talents.”