Young performers show off their talents to hundreds at Monroe’s Got Talent

From over 120 audition videos, 23 performers were chosen to perform, including singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, dancers, and gymnasts. Three won prizes.

Monroe /
| 15 Jun 2022 | 11:33

Cheers and roars erupted in response to performances at the first-ever Monroe’s Got Talent, a two-hour show featuring 22 performers from around the region. This event was also the first of the Monroe Summer Concert Series

. “The concert series was designed to ensure that there’s something going on every weekend, said Peter Dawson, host and organizer of Monroe’s Got Talent. Dawson proposed the idea to the town’s mayor and trustees, telling them that a talent show would “kick off this year by doing something different.”

The event was first promoted in March, asking performers to submit video auditions. After sifting through more videos than they could count, Dawson and his cohorts approved 22 for the big night.

“The show was open to people ages five to 25. We didn’t want it to be a broader selection because we were afraid that if we did that, they might get overshadowed by some older folks who were more seasoned,” said Dawson. “They’re a group that often doesn’t have a stage to go and perform,” he continued.

Flash forward to 7:00 p.m. last Saturday. The show brought in well over 300 people, stretching across Millpond in anticipation of what was to come. Sitting in front were the judges: Mayor Neil Dwyer, Captain Table owner Ray Hefenecker, and Tonebenders band members Jillian Burns and Erol Ogut.

The evening’s performances include a variety of vocals, from covers to original songs, frequently with an instrument and occasionally a duet partner. Some of the non-vocal acts included 8-year-old Kai Officer showing off his gymnastics, Rohan Sonaky beating his Tabla drums, and a quartet dancing to Jingle Bell Rock.

“I really enjoyed the kid doing gymnastics...I wasn’t expecting it,” said Madeha Salha, 12, a Monroe resident. Salha said she appreciated the large crowd and judges, making the show feel as real as those on television.

“I definitely enjoyed the artists that write their own well as the ones who played an instrument and sang,” said Lenore Grogan, 53, a Blooming Grove resident, whose son, Brian Grogan, rapped his original song, “My Return.”

During the show, the Monroe-Woodbury Music Boosters sold a variety of goodies and raffles to raise funds for the school district’s music scholarships. Several fire trucks and police cars also paid a brief visit, blaring their lights and horns in honor of the district’s softball team winning the state championship.

After the judges tallied the scores, Peter Dawson announced the winners: James Dawson in third, Julia Roome in second, and Ariana Gomez in first. The prize includes $500, free recording studio time, and performance opportunities at Monroe and Chester venues.

The audience and other performers applauded as the three stood in front, trophies in hand, closing out the night.

“I was so proud of them. Every one of them performed to the best of their ability,” said Peter Dawson. “I hope we just started a tradition, and we get an opportunity to do it again next year.”

For more information on the Monroe Summer Concert Series, visit the venue’s Facebook page at