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Coral Gables

Talent competition attracts student artists and performers at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables


Special to the Miami Herald

Pinecrest Preparatory student Javmar Perez-Contreras, 14, came close to winning the Young Talent Big Dreams talent search last year.

This year, the piano player is aiming to win.

“The first time, I was nervous,’’ said Javmar, who made it to the semi-finals last year. “With the loss, I found out my way through things. I am better prepared."

Javmar is one of more than 80 local students, ages 8-17, who showcased their talents at the fourth annual Young Talent Big Dreams talent search held at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables over the weekend. The event is sponsored by The Children's Trust.

“I was proud because it gave me an experience,’’ he recalled of his loss. “It made me try harder.’’

The students competed for prizes ranging from performing arts scholarships, cash awards, performance opportunities and tickets to local attractions and theaters. There are six individual and group categories in pop/rock/rap vocals, musical theatre/jazz standards/classical vocals, original spoken word, dance, musical instrument and original vocal and instrumental composition.

To qualify, contestants had to be residents of Miami-Dade County. There will be seven preliminary auditions taking place in different venues throughout the county with the semi-finals scheduled for the end of April.

Barbara Stein, executive producing director of Actors' Playhouse, said the competition gives an opportunity to the aspiring artists.

“It started with a dream,’’ she said. “We work with a lot of kids in the school system and the general public. We got inspired by the television reality shows. We said, ‘Why can't we do this for the people to inspire them?’ ’’

Vinelsy Sanchez, 12, a student at the Sports Leadership and Management charter school, says she sings everywhere and every day, so she decided to perform Christina Aguilera's Show me how you Burlesque.

“I like how it sounds with my voice,’’ she said. “I sing it all day. I even sang it before I got here.’’

Her mother Victoria Garcia said she supports her daughter's talents.

“Because of singing, her confidence is high,’’ she said. “She is getting good at it.’’

Emily Cardenas, senior communications manager for The Children’s Trust, said the event serves as a reminder that children have a place to display their gifts.

“When you take this event to their community it sends a message, 'We are here and we are looking for you.’ ’’

The finals are set for May.

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