During the past several months, four Darien women -- the producers of the Darien Arts Center's fundraiser Darien's Got Talent -- have worked nonstop with their team of volunteers in preparation for the live finals competition at the Darien Town Hall auditorium Saturday, June 30, at 7 p.m. Preliminary auditions were held this past weekend, and a panel of distinguished judges selected 15 finalists from more than 75 acts who competed during the two-day event.

The preliminary judges included Toni DeCarlo, Leo B.Meyer, Matthew Porretta, Cristina Spinei and Ted Yudain.

Cristina Spinei has been called "one of the most talented young composers in America" by Grammy award-winning composer/conductor Jose Serebrier. She is the recipient of the ASCAPlus Award, Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism Grant for Composition, two Composer Assistance Awards from the American Music Center, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts composition grant, and the New York State Council on the Arts composition grant. She received her BM and MM in composition from the Juilliard School where she studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Christopher Rouse.

Porretta is excited to be returning to his native Darien. After attending Manhattan School of Music, he got his start in musical theatre with leads at Candlewood Playhouse and with the Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick Maine. His big break came when cast in the role of Marius in the national tour of "Les Miserables."

DeCarlo has built an impressive list of chorography credits with many of the community theatres in Fairfield County, including the Greenwich Repertory Theatre ("Stop the World"), The Darien Arts Center ("Company," "Follies," "Most Happy Fella") and Curtain Call Theatre ("South Pacific," "The Fantasticks").

Meyer is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, and former owner of Atlas Scenic Studios. He has designed and built sets for major theatres throughout the U.S. and Canada including, "42nd Street," "Rent," "Amadeus," "Hello, Dolly," "My Fair Lady" and "A Chorus Line," and for hundreds of plays, ballets, operas, Broadway, national tours, and film. Throughout his 40 year career, he has worked with stars Chita Rivera, Lucie Arnaz, Robert Goulet and Carol Channing. An avid singer and actor, Meyer frequently performs in recitals and with the Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut and Troupers Light Opera Company.

Yudain is a member of advisory committee of the Conn. Office on Culture and Tourism, and chairman of the Arts Committee of the CT Office of the Arts. As a musician, he has performed as singer and guitarist in touring folk groups and in several rock bands, as well as with choral groups, madrigal and chamber choirs, and barbershop quartets. His stage credits include New York, regional and local dramatic, comedic and musical productions. He can be seen in the HBO's upcoming film "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" and is featured in "The Mercury Cycle."

The names of the finalists, who will compete for the top three cash prizes, will be announced at a later date. The DAC "Darien's Got Talent" is a fundraising event for the nonprofit organization, which offers educational programming in dance, visual arts, theater and music, as well as productions from its performing arts wing, the Darien Players and Cabaret Theatre. Proceeds from the event, as well as private donations, tuition fees and ticket sales, go toward funding these creative endeavors and help to continue the ongoing efforts of the DAC.

Tickets for the live finals performance are: $35 adults; $25 children; $75 (premium seating, which includes a champagne reception following the show). Purchase tickets online at arts.daring.org. For more information, call 203-655-8683.

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