Three semi-finalists were eliminated to bring NYC’s Metropolitan Room annual singing contest down to its Top 5 finalists — and the grand prize winner will determined and announced at the end of the final round on Monday, August 21 at the venue. This tenth annual MetroStar Talent Challenge producers have revealed that the names of these final five (determined by the total number of points given by a combination of judges and audience members’ votes). They are: the actor/singer Anthony Alfaro; veteran vocalist Joan Crowe; the newcomers Evan Dolan, Jackie Mate, who is only 16, and Emily Ellet. The five will have their final sets on Monday (the culmination of seven consecutive Monday nights ) and then all votes will be tabulated during performances by guest singers and then, in the presence of judges and audience and the finalists themselves, the names of the MetroStar grand prize winner and runners-up will be announced from the stage.
In the finals each of the singers, who have all been challenged to sing assigned songs in the course of the contest — even if they didn’t already know the songs — are asked to present a mini-set, which will include one of their previously sung songs, chosen by the jury.
In addition to the MetroStar grand prize and its Special Audience Award (instituted in 2015), the career-boosting competition is offering two additional prizes — 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 under a year.
This year’s permanent jury is made up of: drag queen standout Doris Dear; 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. This year’s initial pool of singers totaled 51. Mallory King, Maya Murphy, and Jackie Schiffer were the semi-finalists who did not advance. The winner of last year’s MetroStar competition, David Baida, has been appearing on Broadway in the cast of On Your Feet!, from its 2015 start. (The show, coincidentally, plays its final performance the day before this year’s MetroStar finale on Monday).
MetroStar’s host, the MAC Award-winning Tom Gamblin, is now in his seventh season as master of ceremonies and talent wrangler. The contest’s music direction is shared this year by Jeff Cubeta and Tracy Stark. The singer and director Lina Koutrakos serves as MetroStar’s resident mentor, who has been offering performance-improving tips to the competitors.
Since it took off in 2008, MetroStar has launched and redefined the careers of several standouts in cabaret and jazz. Prior to Mr. Baida’s most recent reign as the MetrStar, the past winners, in chronological order, have been Anne Steele, Liz Lark Brown, T. Oliver Reid, Marissa Mulder, the aforementioned Billie Roe, Lauren Stanford, Kristoffer Lowe, Minda Larsen. The contest’s co-producers are Metropolitan Room owner Bernie Furshpan, Met Room technical director Jean-Pierre Perreaux, Macchia, Gamblin, and Beck Lee.
Its presenters define eligibility as being “open to solo singers and vocal duos of all ages, backgrounds and styles who have not played a major engagement at the Metropolitan Room,” and described as an enterprise “that encourages performers to present well-rounded stage performances in which creativity, innovation and authenticity are prized over vocal pyrotechnics.” Cover charge is $20, with a $15 menu minimum, for this final night. The Nightlife, MAC and Bistro Award-winning Metropolitan Room celebrated its 11th anniversary in May.
Location: 34 West 22 Street, NYC. Call 212-206-0440 or visit www.metropolitanroom.com for further information or to make reservations for any of this nightclub’s shows between now and September 30, when the venue exits its current location (a new and larger Metropolitan Room’s location and opening will be announced in the coming months).