Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Area singers light up stage

IRONWOOD - The Historic Ironwood Theatre played host to some local and national talent on Saturday as part of the third annual HIT Idol contest.

More than 40 youth, teens and adults competed in HIT Idol, and six winners were announced Saturday night. Youth winners included Hurley seventh grader Haydn Lamerand, performing "Almost Love" by A Fine Frenzy, and Ewen-Trout Creek seventh grader Ava Moilanen, performing "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone.

Teen winners included Ironwood freshman Ethan Puisto, performing "Speechless" by Lady Gaga, and Ironwood junior Robert Burchell, performing "Let Her Go" by Passenger.

The adult winners were Montreal, Wis., resident Erika Hamlin, performing "Too Close" by Alex Clare and Ironwood resident Jennifer Sambrano, performing "Blank Page" by Christina Aguilera.

The winners then were able to perform as the opening act for American Idol Season 10 Finalist Casey Abrams, who performed later in the show.

According to music director Janie Williams, all the performances were "phenomenal" and how the third year, has been "the best year to date."

"This whole event is just a fabulous opportunity for young people to gain more experience and confidence performing live and perform with a cast as well," Williams said. "Everyone did so well."

In addition to opening for Abrams, each of the winners will be able to open for one act of their choosing within the next 12 months.

"I am just amazed at this talent," show emcee Mark Silver said. "I have been involved with HIT Idol for three years, and it gets better each year."

After the winners performed, Abrams started his set playing the 1928 Barton organ and was accompanied by friend Taylor Tessler on acoustic guitar.

Abrams show had a personal, jam session-type feel, interacting with the audience and Tessler during performances. And he even received a marriage proposal from someone in the audience.

"When?" Abrams asked. "I'm a busy guy, but I'm game."

The show featured some cover songs, mash-ups of many songs and some original pieces as well. Abrams also commented on the HIT Idol performers, saying he was "impressed."

According to theater managing director Bruce Greenhill, he is "proud" to be a part of a place that offers a creative environment for local youth and residents.

"I once read that there are two ways of being creative," Greenhill said. "One can sing, and one can dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish. I am so proud to be a very small part of a remarkable organization that continually generates and maintains such an environment."

For more information on HIT Idol, future shows or the Historic Ironwood Theatre, call 906-932-0618, or visit