The Media Theatre held auditions for the 2012 “Delco Idol” contests on May 21 and 23. More than 150 singers with a desire to have their voices heard by appreciative audiences sang their hearts out with selections ranging from Broadway to country, from classics to original tunes, and quite a few songs made popular by pop sensation Adele.
“The contests are the perfect combination of our mission of music theatre and education,” said Artistic Director Jesse Cline, who chooses the contestants each year. “In the 'Jr.' version, we see young people who are developing an interest in the performing arts. In the regular 'Idol' we see a more mature age group who are perhaps already studying and learning their craft in some way or another.”
Past “Delco Idol” winners and contestants have gone on to appear in The Media Theatre’s Broadway Series productions such as Jack Raymond, who recently portrayed Moritz in Spring Awakening, and Lauren Cupples appeared in that production and worked alongside Emmy winner Wanda Sykes in Annie in 2010. JP Dunphy, a former top five “Delco Idol” contestant, had roles in both of those productions and will appear as Jinx in The Media Theatre’s Forever Plaid this summer (July 18-22) near Avalon, NJ, at the Middletown Township Performing Arts Center.
Prior to the audition, Artistic Director Jesse Cline—who chooses the contestants each year—spoke to each night’s anxious competitors. As they sat in large groups, either alone with their guitars, sheet music, or with their parents, Cline said, “This is not about copying a popular singer like Taylor Swift or Adele. This is about bringing your own personality and unique capabilities to the song you choose.”
As the auditioning singers walked into The Media Theatre’s Crystal Room, Cline greeted each of them with a smile to make them feel at ease. At times, he would ask questions about their song choice.
“It’s important to allow those auditioning to feel welcome,” he explained. “After all, they are trying their best and you cannot ask for more than that. But it’s also important for me to know how they connect to the material they are singing. If a 10 year old sings an Adele song that has a melody she enjoys, that does not mean she understands what the song is about.”
After taking a singer’s ability, personality, and song choice into consideration, Cline made the final decision as to who will be in the “Delco Idol” and “Delco Idol Junior” competitions for summer 2012. He will be the one constant judge throughout the five weeks of each contest, with a rotating panel of guest judges each week. FOX-TV’s Sue Serio returns as the “Delco Idol” emcee for the third summer.
The final list of contestants for “Delco Idol” and “Delco Idol Junior” is available online at www.mediatheatre.org, where voting is now live in order to support your favorite contestant. Each $2 vote supports The Media Theatre and may allow a contestant to remain in the competition. The top three online vote-getters each week receive extra points added to the judge’s tally.
The list does contain vocalists who reside in Chester and Philadelphia counties, as well as Wilmington, Del. The main criteria is that contestants live within a 55-mile radius of The Media Theatre to participate in "Delco Idol."
The 2012 “Delco Idol” Contestants are: Rebecca Alexander, 19, and Jason Armstrong, 18, both of Newtown Square; Brittany Marie Arnao, 21, of Folsom; Jessica Bernard, 18, Philadelphia; and returning for the third summer is Ridley Park’s Kyleigh Bleacher.
Media is represented by six contestants including Samantha Bream, 15; Danielle Brown, 19, Christopher Infantino, 16; Sarah Mills, 15; and siblings Christian and Olivia Stallings, 16 and 14 respectively.
The list of competitors continues with Wilmington, Del., being represented by Kasey Brown, 15; Stephanie Brown, 19, and Ray Crozier, 16, both of Garnet Valley; and Boothwyn’s 15-year-old Rhiannon Charney. Also making the list are Springfield’s 14-year-old Stacy DiCandilo and 15-year-old singer Ben Iffrig, as well as Jackie Rooney, 14, and Cara Toland, 17.
Broomall’s Kelly Downs, 14, will perform for audiences, as well as Savannah Dysard, 16, of Glen Mills. West Chester is represented by Caroline Fresh, 17. The list also includes Rosaleen Gallagher, 20, of Secane; Molly Jo Gifford, 15, Folsom; Carly Graziadei, 19, Royersford; Carly Katz, 17, Broomall; Barbara Kaufmann, 19, Drexel Hill; Breyanna Lewis, 14, Clifton Heights; Emily Luther, 15, Malvern; and Keith Lutz, a Manayunk resident who performs in the subway system with his guitar.
The “Delco Idol” list continues with Rutledge’s Madison Martin, 15; Maria Maslin, 18, of Broomall; and Lansdowne’s Anna Phillips, 16. Sofia Ryan, 15, of Havertown and Jenna Sharples, 15, of Berwyn both will appear, as well as Kylie Teller, 17, of Wallingford and Cara Turner, 16, of Clifton Heights.
The age limit for “Delco Idol” is 14-24, and this year’s ‘most mature’ performers are two 23 year olds: Gabriel Davila, of Darby, and Anna Sunnergren, of Exton.
The “Junior” competition includes singers between the ages of 7 to 13. This year’s list was expanded to 46 to allow the crowded field of performers the opportunity to sing for at least one week in front of a large audience at The Media Theatre.
“It’s an educational opportunity for them,” said Cline. “At that age, it’s very difficult to choose the ‘best’ singer or who is most connected to the material. It’s part of our mission to educate, and so we want to give as many of the younger ones the chance to perform.”
The 2012 “Delco Idol Junior” contestants are: Lily Altman, 8, Berwyn; Emily Boyles, 11, Lansdale; Beada Briglia, 11, Media; Dan Briglia, 11, Media; Katejoulie Carney, 13, Garnet Valley; Emily Chressanthis, 11, Media; Kathryn Cooper, 9, Glen Mills; Nicole Dugan, 12, Glenolden; Amber Duncan, 13, Wallingford; Cassidy Else, 7, Drexel Hill; and Elaina Fitzgerald, 8, of Media.
The list of singers in “Delco Idol Junior” continues with Emma Gantart, 9, Bryn Mawr; Patrick Gaughan, 12, Wallingford; Valentina Giribaldi, 13, Garnet Valley; Layla Hardy, 13, Lima; Blake Jelus, 13, Broomall; Gillian Keener, 12, Aston; and Julia Kubo, 8, of Darby.
Collegeville’s Lauren Kuerschner, 10, will also compete, as well as siblings Ashley and Cassidy Lennick (13 and 10). Wallingford’s Julia Lowman, 11, returns for a second summer, with crowd favorite Paul Mariani III doing his best for the third year.
The “Junior” competition includes many newcomers this year, such as Maura McManus, 13, and Logan Mitch, 8, both of Chadds Ford. Also competing are Fiona Moser, 9, Havertown; Gianna Palmarini, 12, Aston; Caitlin Reilly, 13, Springfield; Teanna Rico, 13, Essington; Grace Shevlin, 9, Thornton; Grace Shoemaker, 9, Wynnewood; Abby Schwartz, 12, Media; Gabrielle Sokolow, 7, Malvern; Emily Steinhardt, 12, of Berwyn; and Melissa Stern, 11, of Malvern.
Last year’s winner was Gregory Smith, of Media, and this year he has two siblings trying their best in the “Junior” Idol. They are Alex Smith, 7, and Emily Smith, 10. They will compete against the previously mentioned contestants as well as Matt Tierney, 12, of Havertown; JD Triolo, 10, West Chester; Francesca Williams, 12, Newtown Square; Heidi Winters, 10, Chadds Ford; Anthony Wisdo, 13, Maple Glen; Madison Yannatelli, 12, Broomall; and Alexandra Zeh, 13, of Wayne.
The “Delco Idol” contest begins Wednesday July 11 at 7 p.m., with the “Junior” competition starting on Sunday July 15 at 7 p.m. Each continues for a total of five weeks. Five or more contestants are eliminated each week until the finals, when 20 singers will try for the 2012 title in each contest.
Iron Workers Bank is the sponsor for the third summer.
Tickets for the “Delco Idol” contests are now on sale at mediatheatre.org or by calling 610-891-0100.
(Pictured: "Delco Idol" 2012 contestant Carly Katz, of Broomall, who entertained the crowd during last season's competition.)