Local acts set to prove ‘Happy Valley’s Got Talent’

None of the Above performs “I Want You Back” during “Happy Valley’s Got Talent” in 2015.
None of the Above performs “I Want You Back” during “Happy Valley’s Got Talent” in 2015. Centre Daily Times, file

Centre Region performers and celebrities will take the stage once again at The State Theatre on April 2 when “Happy Valley’s Got Talent” returns for one show only.

The talent showcase is presented by the Tides Program, a grief and loss peer support program for children, teens and adults.

“Tides believes that when a death occurs within a family, it impacts everyone,” said Suzanne Thompson, executive director for the Tides Program. “How each member grieves though is very individualized. As a result, Tides strives to provide peer support to the entire family.”

Tides has been running the show since its inception. The idea may have come out of necessity for the nonprofit, but the show has taken on life of its own. It is now the biggest annual fundraiser for Tides, raising more than $30,000 last year.

“There was a grief and loss program in another area of the state that attempted a show like this and were quite successful so we said, ‘Why not?’ ” Thompson said. “So here we are six years later.”

Last year’s event attracted more than 30 varied acts — from singers to hula hoopers. Following auditions in late February, this year’s line-up features a dozen acts, separated into three age divisions: “future fame” “rising stars” and “prime time.”

Thompson thinks it’s the most innovative group that have performed for HVGT yet.

“This year, most of the acts/performers are vocalists but seem to be more varied than past years, bringing more original and innovative pieces to the stage,” Thompson said. “We also have featured performers ... who will be doing magic, singing, dancing and playing the guitar.”

The Tides program uses proceeds from the event to cover operating costs, meals, training and more.

“The number of families that access the Tides program has tripled in the last three years,” Thompson said. “In one way, our hearts are sad that there are so many children and teens out there grieving the death of a loved one, yet on the other hand grateful they are seeking the support of others through our program. Each week we receive phone calls from schools, places of worship, funeral homes and hospices, other organizations working with children, and families seeking the guidance of Tides staff on how to best support a grieving child or teen.”

As the upward growth of our program continues, so does the cost of running the Tides program, Thompson said.

“With growth, comes a greater expense of meals, arts and crafts, volunteer training, and providing resources for families and professionals seeking grief support. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go directly to covering those increased costs,” she said.

According to a press release, the goal of this year’s HVGT is to raise $50,000.

Judges include Sue Paterno, State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham, Penn State Opera Theatre Center Artistic Director Ted Chrisopher. The show’s co-hosts are local animal hospital owner Fred Metzger and longtime State College radio personality Jerry Valeri, a pair that have been entertaining the crowd as dueling emcees for the past two years.

“I can tell you that most people come out of The State Theatre with a hurting belly from laughing so much,” Thompson said.

There will also be a live auction during the show and a new feature this year is Text to Donate.

Thompson promises a surprise or two from locals, some of whom may even be your neighbors.

“I possess zero talent so the fact that the performers are so poised and get up on stage to sing, dance, and do magic like it’s nobody’s business impresses the heck out of me,” Thompson said. “You might just get a surprise from several people who aren’t actually performers in the show but you’ll have to come and see for yourself!”

Tickets are available at the box office or online at www.thestatetheatre.org/hvgt. There is also a pre-show reception at 5:30 p.m. at Indigo.

It might very well be the best show in town.

Suzanne Thompson, Tides executive director

“It might very well be the best show in town,” Thompson said. “It’s funny, heartwarming, entertaining and it’s a forum for highlighting local talent that benefits an important organization in our community. It’s professionally produced by Jerry Sawyer and all acts are beautifully highlighted during a slideshow that has been created by Larry Snavely of Snavely Associates. And did I mention there might be some surprises?”


  • What: Happy Valley’s Got Talent
  • When: 7 p.m. April 2
  • Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
  • Info: tidesprogram.org, thestatetheatre.org