Young Performers Light Up the Night for Young Talent Big Dreams Finals 5/3/14

Young Performers Light Up the Night for Young Talent Big Dreams Finals
Wednesday, 05/03/2014, 07:00 pm - 
DSC_2910Actor’s Playhouse at Miracle Theatre
280 Miracle Mile,
Coral Gables, Florida 33143
Webpage Link
Cost: Free

Young Performers Light Up the Night for Young Talent Big Dreams Finals

By Michael R. Malone, The Children’s Trust

Before beginning his original spoken word piece for the Young Talent Big Dreams finals, David Woodward paused in front of the microphone and closed his eyes, seeming to disappear.

Then he opened his eyes and launched his emotional performance, a fusion of words and gestures that spoke of the frustration and sometimes fury of the many boys and young men in Woodward’s Little Havana neighborhood who seek to rise above their poverty and shatter the stereotypes that weigh against them.

For his originality and creativity, Woodward, a 16-year-old junior and one of the top writers in his AP English course at SLAM Miami Charter Middle/High School, was named the overall Grand Prize Winner of Young Talent Big Dreams. This year marked the fourth and most ambitious rendition of the countywide talent contest, coordinated by the Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre and sponsored by The Children’s Trust.

The cadre of judges, all professional artists or art critics, chose Woodward over a host of amazingly talented young musicians, dancers, composers and wordsmiths performing in a range of categories, both individual and group. For the top prize, Woodward received $500 in cash and a free trip for two – air fare, hotel and passes – to attend the live American Idol finale in Los Angeles, CA, courtesy of WSVN CH7.

Woodward, who’s been rhyming, rapping and creating original poetry since elementary school, credited his English teacher, Crystal Espinosa, at SLAM for helping him craft his award-winning performance piece. With her guidance, he revised the piece more than twenty times, working steadily on it for more than a month.

“Though I like to write, I wasn’t much of a reader before. The experience of competing in YTBD really taught me about perfecting my writing craft,” said Woodward, nicknamed the “silent assassin” by his classmates for the riveting power and precision infused in his work.

Winners were chosen for each of the categories, and 27 acts competed in all in the finals held Saturday, May 3 at the Actor’s Playhouse. These contestants were selected from the hundreds that participated over the past four months in the total seven auditions held at venues around the county.

“Every year the talent gets better and better, and the dreams get bigger and bigger for this competition,” said Charles M. Auslander, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust, adding that “The Trust is dedicated to helping to encourage the dreams of the children of Miami-Dade County.

Throughout the finals night as he has at all the auditions, emcee Earl Maulding kept the audience caffeinated with his infectious good humor as he sang the high praises of the performers who were competing and those who auditioned over the past few months.

¨These kids are just beyond believing. For many of them this contest is the first time that they walk onto a stage for an audition, but to hear and see them – you’d never know it. Their talents – and courage – are just off the charts,” commented Maulding, who directs the Young Audiences Theatre at Actors’ Playhouse.

Individual first-place winners in each category received $200. Ysabella Reyes, a 10-year-old who studies dance at Dance Hall and who dreams of becoming a ballroom dancer and choreographer wooed judges with her Individual Dance performance. Abdias L. Armenteros, a 9th grade student at Miami Union Academy took top prize in Individual Musical Instrument with his spirited saxophone performance. In the relatively new category for Individual Original Composition, Javmar Perez-Contreras, a 14-year-old pianist who attends Pinecrest Preparatory Middle High School, won first prize in stiff competition.

Carolina Rivero, an 8th-grader at St. Thomas the Apostle, delivered a spirited rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” to win Individual Vocal Pop/Rock/Rap. Judges awarded top prize for Individual Vocal Theatre/Jazz/Classical to Amanda Gonzalez-Piloto, a freshman vocalist at the New World School of the Arts, who delighted the audience with her version of “Taylor the Latte Boy.”

In Bands competition, One Love, comprised of five young musicians – Carina Ubinas, 15, Joshua Paulus-Rosenow, 15, Carlos Ubinas, 14, Michael Ubinas, 11, and Gabriela Ubinas, 9 – who’ve been performing together just a few months, took top prize. Each musician received $50. In Group Dance, Monica Delgado, an 8th grader at Coral Way K-8, and Anne Wright, an 8th grader at Westminister Christian School, won top honors and $100 each. Both are dancers with the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet. Imani Coker, 16, and Naya Schere, 17, won top honors for Group Musical Instrument for their viola duet. Both are musicians in Coral Reef Senior High’s Orchestra Magnet. The two also received $100 each.

All category winners received master classes taught by local professionals and opportunities to attend a range of professional performances over the coming year; a pair of subscriptions to the Actors’ Playhouse 2014-15 Mainstage Season; local restaurant certificates; and professional headshots for their portfolios from Alberto Romeu Photography. The Individual Dance Winner also received a full scholarship to the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet.

Judges for the finals performance included: David Arisco, artistic director at Actors’ Playhouse; Lynn Martinez, WSVN CH7 News Anchor; Mary Carmen Catoya, Principal Dancer, Miami City Ballet; Howard Cohen, Features Writer, The Miami Herald; Natalie Lewis-Schere, Co-Founder and Executive Director of PATH; and Joel Someillan, Award-winning musical producer of Nickelodeon’s Dora The Explorer and Go Diego Go! TV shows.

Early in the evening, Actors’ Playhouse executive producing director Barbara Stein welcomed local dignitaries and graciously thanked the many event sponsors. At the end of the night, the stage was filled with beaming contestants, purple Finalist medallions swinging at their necks. Stein’s welcome words still echoed in the confettied air.

“This has been the most amazing competition, one that inspires the dreams of so many and that we’re so glad to be a part of. Nobody’s leaving here tonight who’s not a first-class winner.”

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