The tenth annual MetroStar Talent Challenge — a summer-long Manhattan singing contest — is giving itself a fresh, new look as it adds two new categories to the career-boosting competition. This year, in addition to the MetroStar grand prize and its Special Audience Award (which was instituted in 2015), the 2017 edition of the July/August tradition is adding an Innovation Award and a Best New Artist Award.
MetroStar 2017 runs for seven consecutive Mondays, from July 10 through August 21. Applications are still being accepted for a short while longer before the preliminary rounds. To be eligible, all contestants must certify that they will be available throughout the Mondays of the jury-and audience-voted, elimination-round competition.
Returning as permanent judges are the singer and writer (and former MetroStar winner herself) Billie Roe; the Metropolitan Room’s booking manager/cabaret producer Joseph Macchia, and cabaret journalist Roy Sander, who has served as jury chairman since the contest’s inception. Top director Barry Kleinbort returns as MetroStar’s resident mentor, available as of the quarterfinals to offer performance-improving pointers until the contest’s finale.
The MAC Award-winning host Tom Gamblin returns for his seventh season as the contest’s master of ceremonies and talent wrangler. The contest’s music direction duties will be shared by the “quick-drawing bad hombre” Nate Buccieri and “rock ‘n’ roll solid” Tracy Stark.
Open to solo singers and vocal duos of all ages, backgrounds and styles who have not played a major engagement at the Metropolitan Room — defined as a 4-show, primetime run of the same show in a fixed period — MetroStar challenges singers to raise their standards and push themselves artistically.
From its inception, MetroStar has cultivated a supportive environment in which the audience has been encouraged to vote for excellence, not just to support their friends. In addition to having their votes factor into both the MetroStar grand prize, and the Special Audience Award, the audience will be polled for the contest’s Theme Song and Common Song segments. This year’s new Innovation Award (recognizing creativity and unique ideas), and The Best New Artist Award (which is NOT age-specific), will both be voted by the judges. (A mystery judge, whose identity is revealed at the finale, also takes part.) To be eligible for Best New Artist, the contestant has to have been performing publicly as a singer or cabaret performer for less than a year.
Since it took off in 2008, MetroStar has launched and redefined the careers of several standouts in cabaret and jazz. Past winners, in chronological order, have been Anne Steele, Liz Lark Brown, T. Oliver Reid, Marissa Mulder, Billie Roe, Lauren Stanford, Kristoffer Lowe, Minda Larsen, and the 2016 MetroStar David Baida.
MetroStar offers a career-boosting package of prizes and professional encouragements, including production support for a Met Room primetime engagement. During the seven weeks, contestants are encouraged to present well-rounded stage performances in which creativity, innovation and authenticity are prized over vocal fireworks. The contest’s co-producers are Met Room owner Bernie Furshpan, Macchia, Gamblin, and Beck Lee.
To apply, performers must submit either a CD (by mail or special delivery), or an mp3 recording and/or link if applying by e-mail. For details visit www.metropolitanroom.com
The 2017 MetroStar Talent Challenge takes place on seven consecutive Mondays from July 10 to August 21. All shows are all at 6:30 PM. The cover charge for all MetroStar rounds is $20, with a $15 menu minimum. The Nightlife, MAC and Bistro Award-winning Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, celebrates its 11th anniversary in May. For reservations call 212/206-0440 or online by visiting www.metropolitanroom.com