Delco Idol, the annual summer vocal contest now in its eighth year at The Media Theatre, started off strong on July 11. With 39 contestants—most from Delaware County, but a few from outside county lines due to the rule that those competing must live within 55 miles of the theatre—the fortunate audience had much to applaud throughout the evening.
FOX-TV’s morning weather anchor Sue Serio brought her warm personality to the duties of emceeing for the third summer, and even found the time to plug her morning show when she announced contestant Sofia Ryan, 15, of Havertown.
Sofia’s song of choice was the Norah Jones Grammy winner “Don’t Know Why” to which Serio stated, “I don’t know why but I feel the need to give everyone a weather wrap-up right now!” and proceeded to allow the appreciative audience to know what’s in store, reminding them to keep checking in with her morning show Good Day Philadelphia.
Serio rises each morning Monday through Friday at 2:30 a.m. to keep television viewers informed but that does not stop her from being the Idol hostess.
“This contest means a lot to the entire region,” she said. “This is a renowned stage which produces fantastic musicals and gives these aspiring performers a wonderful opportunity. Plus, it’s fun for me to come out, meet the young singers—and especially hear their terrific renditions of songs that run the gamut from pop and rhythm and blues to Broadway tunes and opera. Where else can you get that type of entertainment on a Wednesday night?”
She’ll continue through Aug. 8 with Delco Idol, when the 2012 winner is announced.
Jesse Cline, the theatre’s artistic director and the reason for Delco Idol’s existence, also enjoys the healthy competition each summer.
“This is one of the events I most look forward to,” he explained. “It’s a learning experience for those involved and is a direct tie-in to the educational aspect of our mission of music theatre. It’s the only place in Delaware County—and in fact the entire Philadelphia region—where up and coming talent has an opportunity to perform on the same stage in which Emmy winner Wanda Sykes and American Idol runner-up Justin Guarini performed for thousands of patrons in classic musicals. We are a nationally recognized professional music theatre company and our educational programs reflect that.”
The first round of Delco Idol 2012 had many strong performances, including two terrific renditions of “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Miserables. Serio commented that the song would, "most likely be the one that would remain in everyone’s head tomorrow morning," as the two renditions, by Brittany Marie Arnao, 21, of Folsom, and 14-year-old Jackie Rooney, of Springfield, were both crowd pleasing interpretations yet were uniquely their own.
Singer Adele was represented (of course) by three contestants: Christopher Infantino, 17, of Media, and Carly Katz, 17, of Broomall, both brought their interpretations of “Someone Like You”---a difficult number, as the song is written with a somewhat stagnant melody line and is a very personal tune for the pop star. Emily Luther wowed the crowd with Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” as arranged by the Grammy winner.
Advice from the Experts
But Cline is always one to guide the contestants in a direction away from performing—and sometimes imitating—recorded versions of popular hits.
“These pop hits are created and manufactured technologically to sell millions of recordings,” he stated. “They are uniquely designed for each big pop sensation of the moment and are not designed for anyone’s vocals in mind. However, a Broadway score is written so that many performers might sing the same role and with a vision that goes beyond the current day. That is why Broadway music lasts for decades while pop hits disappear, for the most part, several months after they are released.”
“On the other hand, several new Broadway scores are based on pop hits of yesteryear,” he explained. “So the two worlds are colliding a bit in this day and age. But even then the songs are given new arrangements to allow actors to play the roles comfortably without technological assistance. This makes the live performance, and what we do here, so special. It’s not about being anyone but yourself on the stage.”
Tom Fosnocht, the theatre’s resident music director, works with the Delco Idol contestants at one rehearsal prior to each week’s performance.
The unfortunate outcome, for some, is that they are not returning to Week Two of the competition due to the scores given by the guest judges and Cline himself. Eliminated in Round One were: Kelly Downs, 14, of Broomall; Molly Jo Gifford, 15, of Ridley; Barbara Kaufmann, 19, of Drexel Hill; and Media’s Christian Stallings, 16.
The eliminations are a part of each week’s process so that only one Delco Idol will remain at the end of the final round on Wednesday, Aug. 8.
Who will it be of those remaining? For tickets, call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org.
Remaining contestants after Week One are: Rebecca Alexander, 19, Newtown Square; Jason Armstrong, 18, Newtown Square; Brittany Marie Arnao, 21, Folsom; Kyleigh Bleacher, 15, Ridley Park; Samantha Bream, 15, Media; Danielle Brown, 19, Media; Kasey Brown, 15, Wilmington; Stephanie Brown, 19, Garnet Valley; Rhiannon Charney, 15, Boothwyn; Ray Crozier, 16, Garnet Valley; Stacy Dicandilo, 14, Springfield; Savannah Dysard, 16, Glen Mills; Molly Fair, 20, Havertown; Caroline Fresh, 17, West Chester; Rosaleen Gallagher, 20, Secane; Benn Tyler Iffrig, 17, Springfield; Chris Infantino, 17, Media; Carly Katz, 17, Broomall; Breyanna Lewis, 14, Clifton Heights; Emily Luther, 15, Malvern; Madison Martin, 15, Rutledge; Maria Maslin, 18, Broomall; Hannah McCarthy, 14, Berwyn; Sarah Mills, 15, Media; Anna Phillips, 16, Lansdowne; Lindsay Ronaldson, 17, Aston; Jackie Rooney, 14, Springfield; Sofia Ryan, 15, Havertown; Jenna Sharples, 15, Berwyn; Marie Sminkey, 14, Middletown; Olivia Stallings, 14, Media; Anna Sunnergren, 23, Exton; Kylie Teller, 17, Wallingford; Cara Toland, 17, Springfield; Jackie Verna, 17, West Chester