The quarter-finals of the 2017 MetroStar Talent Challenge features 13 singers vying to become the 10th MetroStar Talent Challenge winner, crowned on Monday, August 21. The competing baker’s dozen of vocalists are from a variety of backgrounds, including Broadway and cabaret, as well as a number of brand new talents, like 16-year-old Jackie Mate, who are hoping to make a big splash in their cabaret debuts.
Chosen from an initial pool of 51 singers, and after the contest’s three weeks of trials that began on July 10, those competing on Monday, August 7 at 6:30 PM are (in alphabetical order):
Anthony Alfaro, Analisa Bell, Joan Crowe, Evan Dolan, Emily Ellet, Barrie Kealoha, Mallory King, Jackie Mate, Caitlin McBride, Maya Murphy, Sheree Sano, Jackie Schiffer, and Deonte Warren
The contest, a Metropolitan Room summer tradition since 2008, runs for seven consecutive Mondays.
This year’s permanent jury includes the newly appointed drag queen standout Doris Dear (“whose nomination was rammed through Congress without debate,” josh the press notes). She joins these jurists: the singer and writer (and 2012 MetroStar) Billie Roe; the Metropolitan Room’s booking manager and cabaret producer Joseph Macchia; and cabaret journalist Roy Sander, who has served as jury chairman since the contest’s inception.
Also new this year — the singer and director Lina Koutrakos has been tapped to serve as MetroStar’s resident mentor, replacing Barry Kleinbort, who inaugurated the behind-the-scenes advisor role in 2015. Koutrakos makes herself available to any contestant who seeks her out for performance-improving pointers.
The MAC Award-winning host Tom Gamblin, is now in his seventh season as master of ceremonies and talent wrangler. The contest’s music direction duties are being shared this year by Jeff Cubeta and 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.
This year the program is adding two new categories to the career-boosting competition. In addition to the MetroStar grand prize and its Special Audience Award (instituted in 2015), the 2017 edition is adding an Innovation Award — recognizing creativity and unique ideas — and a Best New Artist Award (which is NOT age-specific), going to a contestant who has 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. The contest’s co-producers are Met Room owner Bernie Furshpan, Macchia, Gamblin, and Beck Lee.
The final rounds—Mondays August 7, 14 and 21– begin at 6:30 PM. The cover charge for all shows is $20, with a $15 menu minimum. The Nightlife, MAC and Bistro Award-winning Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, celebrated its 11th anniversary in May. For reservations call 212/206-0440 or to order online visit www.metropolitanroom.com