LaBella’s in New Paltz is the venue for young entertainers (with photo gallery)

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Photos by Rich Corozine

When Jamishay Cammann moved to New Paltz four months ago, she went out with her mom, Shaydie, to get a slice of pizza. And as many other old and new New Paltzians have done over the years, they wound up at LaBella’s — Maria’s place — now in its 25th year. And Jamishay, being a precocious 12-year-old performer who has hit the stage in and around the Hudson Valley since she was five, sounded out the long-time maitre’donna of the restaurant about hosting a talent show of some sort; and Maria, being who she is, said, “Sure!” The result of this meeting of young enterprising entertainer and middle-age proprietress was this past Wednesday night’s “Shooting for the Starzz” talent show.

“It’s a family restaurant and I thought it would be a great time for kids to explore their talent,” said Maria, in between dishing out slices of pizza to the more than 50 performers and family that showed for the event. And it was quite the group of kids, all under 18, with little eight-year-old Tess Lobell opening — after a dance duo by Jamishay and Amelia Verderosa — and blowing everyone away with her version of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” and followed in quick succession with cover-tunes from Allie DiPippo, Lucy Tween, Jamishay, Callie LaRonca, a joke by Daniel Hizby and more songs by Hanna Tween, Taylor Hill, The D’Angelo’s, Verderosa, Amos Lee, Mikayla Simmons, tap dancing from Caleb Sheedy, musical harmonies with the Hidden Harmonies — led by guitarist/singer Natalie Skoblow — and ending with an African drum blowout by Tim Allen.

The idea, from both Jamishay and Shaydie, is to do this once a month at LaBella and then launch a fall production — “A Tribute to Broadway” — through their ABG Musical Theater Troop, which is for young performers 18-and-under to get their chops whetted by performing in the style of old-time radio programs; programs that feature songs, musical numbers, stories and even commercials. Hopefully, with these radio play productions, the ABG Troop will be able to mount a new production every couple of months or so. The emphasis will be on the art of the radio play, comedic timing, the magic of sound, character study, voice over, stage presence, dance and movement, technique and improvisation.

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If the talent and energy level stays as high as it was this past Wednesday night at LaBella’s, it looks like the ABG Musical Theater will have a successful fall launching. For more info about the next “Shooting for the Starzz!” at LaBella’s, call 255-2633; and for more info about the ABG Musical Theater Troop, call 914-646-5748 or e-mail to: ABGmusicaltheater@yahoo.com.