Actors’ Playhouse Awards Winners in the Youth Talent Big Dreams Contest
Eight young emerging talents with ambitious dreams of making it in the world of music, dance, and theater just got closer to having those dreams come true. They were recently chosen as winners of the 2016 Youth Talent Big Dreams Contest hosted by Actors’ Playhouse.
Barbara S. Stein, executive producing director of Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, is immensely proud of the contest because “it engages children to develop their individual skills and future performing arts careers,” she said.
This is the sixth annual event and this year’s winners, who hail from various high schools and middle schools throughout Miami-Dade County, beat out hundreds of other students through a rigorous three-month process, including seven preliminary auditions. The winners are:
Individual Vocal – Musical Theatre/Jazz/Classical and Overall Grand Prize Winner
Francesca Winer, 15, Miami Arts Charter School
Individual Vocal – Pop/Rock/Rap Winner
Carolina Rivero, 16, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy
Individual Dance Winner
Jezabel Espinoza, 15, Miami Arts Studio 6-12 at Zelda Glazer
Individual Original Spoken Word Winner
Kourtney Wallace, 16, Miami-Dade College School for Advanced Studies
Individual Original Composition Winner
Ayden Hassenberg, 16, Robert Morgan Educational Center
Individual Musical Instrument Winner
Gabriella Zaken, 11, Norman S. Edelcup/Sunny Isles Beach K-8 Center
Group Dance Winner
Dynasty Step Team
Jada Newball,16; Darius Forshee,15; Jamyah Fils-Aime,16; Mishael Norvil, 13; Nyra Taylor, 16; all students at Miami Norland Senior High School
Bands/Group Vocal Winner
Esteban Urizar, 12, Jorge Mas Canosa Middle School; Jonathan Otanio, 17, Miami Southridge Senior High School; Jonatan Issac, 17, Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts; Matteo Rodriguez, 14, Miami Southridge Senior High School; Luis Alvarez, 17, Miami Southridge Senior High School
“The competitors this year were, on the whole, were older, more prepared and genuinely happy to have the opportunities the competition allows them,” said Earl Maulding, director of Theatre for Young Audiences at Actors’ Playhouse.
Maulding has been directing the competition since its inception, and feels as rewarded for his work as the contestants do.
“I feel as if each and every performance is a gift to me and anyone watching. It is so rewarding to know that these young people are trusting us for a safe, supportive environment to take a risk on themselves,” said Maulding. “I think this speaks to the level and integrity that the competition is viewed by those participating.”
The competition is made possible through the generous support of the Children’s Trust; and for the Grand Prize Winner Francesca Winer, the added bonus of an all-expenses paid trip to the annual Teen Choice Awards came courtesy of WSVN Channel 7.