Hundreds of contestants attended seven auditions over the past four months at venues spread through Miami-Dade, but it all came down to the spoken word.
Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre and the Children’s Trust teamed for the fourth annual Young Talent Big Dreams to find the county’s most talented children performers ages 8 to 17.
For the finals Saturday night, six industry professionals served as judges. After a night of singing and dancing, the judges crowned David Woodward the grand prize winner for his spoken word performance.
David, 16, a student at Miami’s SLAM (Sports, Leadership and Management) Middle/High School became the first spoken word champ to win the overall Young Talent Big Dreams prize which, for the first time, includes a free trip for two to attend the live American Idol finale in Los Angeles. The grand prize winner also scores $500 cash.
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Individual winners in six categories — vocals (pop/rock/rap), vocals (theater/jazz/classical), dance, musical instrument, original vocal or instrumental composition, and spoken word — and group categories for six or fewer members in dance, musical instrumental and rock/pop/jazz band with vocals, also earned cash prizes and professional headshots from Alberto Romeu Photography.
But it’s the exposure, and the experience these youngsters gain at the audition rounds and finals, that can make the biggest difference in building careers in the arts.
Javmar Perez-Contreras, 14, a student at Pinecrest Preparatory Middle-High School, who won his category for his Billy Joel-inspired original composition, aspires to become a full-time composer. David has been rhyming and rapping original pieces since elementary school.
“The competition keeps growing with outstanding talent, and the feedback that we have received from the community — that the program inspires young people and develops artist careers — is extremely gratifying,” said Barbara Stein, Actors’ Playhouse executive producing director.