CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait — Though the USO sponsored a talent show here June 15, the great singing and dancing talents of Army National Guard soldiers made it impossible to pick a winner.
In fact, that high level of talent, along with the large turnout and positive audience response, has inspired the USO to consider repeat performances of the event.
Ingrid Santos, USO programs manager, said she is surprised by the amount of talent that was found in such a small group, and that this was the first successful talent show held at Camp Virginia.
The event, which was held in the camp aerobics tent, showcased soldiers from Company D, 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, South Carolina Army National Guard and the 444th Chemical Company, Illinois Army National Guard. Cpl. Anastasia Evans, a 444th Chemical Company soldier from Alton, Ill., was the emcee for the show.
Four acts performed, and the rules were simple: all acts could play or perform more than one piece but only the first would be judged.
First to perform was Sgt. Sam Matthews from Charleston. With only his acoustic guitar and his harmonica held in a neck rack, Matthews played Tom Petty’s “The Last Dance with Mary Jane,” and had the crowd singing along with the classic rock piece.
Matthews finished with “Charleston Bound,” a song he wrote which joyfully recalls summer nights he spent in downtown Charleston.
Matthews was followed by The Cutie Patooties, an interpretive dance group made up of Sgt. Elijah Dilworth, Cpl. Mitch Davenport and Spc. Kyle Everett. With only two days to rehearse, they graced the stage with their interpretive version of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” from the box office smash Titanic.
Spc. Colon Dudley of Florence said that it was a moving experience to watch Davenport and Everett’s haunting performance of the struggles of Jack and Rose, the hero and heroine of Titanic. With their charismatic approach, first-class costumes and astonishing application of body glitter, The Cutie Patooties moved the crowd to a standing ovation.
Dilworth is from Greenville, Cpl. Mitch Davenport is from Columbia and Spc. Kyle Everett is from Myrtle Beach.
Sgt. Dustin Hooks, a guitarist from Fork and Spc. Nicole Burbach of Rolling Meadows, Ill. took the stage next, singing Faith Hill’s “Give In To Me.” This was Burbach’s first performance in front of an audience and the crowd loved her singing ability.
Hooks followed up the duet with “Southern Raised Country Boy,” a song he wrote while the 4th Battalion was at the National Training Center in Ft. Irwin, Calif. last year. He wrote the song to bring light to all the good country boys back in South Carolina, Hooks said.
The evening’s last act was Sgt. Stroud’s Mullet, a rock band comprised of Staff Sgt. Timothy Dilworth of Pickens, Spc. Christopher Powell from Lucerne Valley, Calif., Spc. Aaron Reaves from Hartsville and Spc. Frank Boglioli from Myrtle Beach. They named themselves after seeing an old picture of 4th Battalion member Sgt. Lennon Stroud with a mullet haircut.
Sgt. Stroud’s Mullet played four songs, including “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against the Machine and “Ace of Shades” by Motorhead. Reaves, on electric guitar, shredded a number of solos throughout the performance, and the band did so well that the camp command cell asked them to open for a future act.
Santos said she is also looking to move the talent show to the bigger stage, as well as trying to purchase better musical equipment for the acts. Santos is looking forward to allowing all of these great entertainers to perform again, as well as other Soldiers who have what it takes to show Camp Virginia that they have talent.