Senior graphic design major impresses judges, audience at OU’s Got Talent

Nicole Armstrong has got talent.

The senior graphic design and photography major sang “Maybe this Time” from Cabaret to win the fourth annual OU’s Got Talent.

Sixteen acts performed in the Banquet Rooms of the Oakland Center Oct. 5. In years past, Meadow Brook Theatre hosted, but the event was moved this year to accommodate more seats.  

Tony Lucca from “The Voice” and “The Mickey Mouse Club” lent his expertise as a celebrity judge. Lucca also performed during the intermission with last year’s winner, Brittany Hall.

Jean Ann Miller, director of the Center for Student Activities, Kalik Jones, chair of the Student Program Board and Sean Varicalli,  program director at WXOU, also served as judges.

Jones said Armstrong was his favorite.

“Her voice was beautiful,” he said. “She took me back in time, where I wish I was born to the 1920s and up. Her just voice fit perfectly with that song.”

Jones was speechless when the hosts asked for his reaction following Armstrong’s performance.

It was Armstrong’s first time competing in the event, but she’s no stranger to performing.

“I had been in theater for a long, long time and I started acting in plays probably (when) I was about 11 years old,” she said. “So, Broadway… it’s in my heart. I’m a Broadway wannabe.”

Armstrong was brought to tears when Hall announced she had won.

“I’m extremely grateful and extremely happy,” she said. “It was a lot of fun and I hadn’t performed in a while. It was very nice and it was a very good feeling.”

Sophomore Stephen Ray took second place and the People’s Choice award.

He performed a “drama” to “Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews Band. Ray described it as “telling a story through dance and music.”

Ray’s father is a traveling evangelist who has been using the “Ants Marching” dance to “make the point that we have to take advantage of good opportunities in our lives.”

“I learned it from him just visually, seeing it over and over and over again,” Ray said. “When I first went to perform that, I didn’t even practice with them. The song just started playing and I knew what to do.”

Ray said he was “totally stoked” to come in second. Before announcing the winner, the hosts also named Ray as the People’s Choice.

“I was absolutely shocked, completely taken back,” Ray said. “I wanted it to go to someone else. I really wanted People’s Choice to go to the magician. I thought the magician was amazing, so amazing.”

Theater major Shauna Rae Hazime sang ZZ Ward’s “Put the Gun Down” to place third.

“The lyrics are so powerful,” Hazime said. “Let’s face it, all girls have been in a situation where some other (girl) is coming along and if they’re stealing your man, you’re gonna say, ‘I don’t think so, you better put that gun down.’”

Hazime performed in last year’s OU Got’s Talent, but didn’t meet the success she did this year.

“I actually wrote a song and performed it myself with my partner at the time, Tyler White,” she said. “I got all three X’s before I could even finish my song.”

This year, the judges did away with the X’s so that no one would be kicked off stage before finishing their act. Despite Hazime’s experience last year, she wanted to come back.

“I’m a performance bug,” she said. “I love theater. I love singing. I just wanted to try again and just place.”

Hazime, who has been singing and acting since she was three years old, will graduate in April and wants to move either to California or New York and pursue theater and or film.