Thursday, July 27, 2017


After three weeks of singing Broadway classics, contemporary show tunes, and pop favorites, "The Vocalist 2017" contestants were narrowed down to the Top Five and a winner was announced: Toni Huegel, 15, of Springfield. She won $1500, and plenty of enthusiastic applause throughout the competition for her smooth vocals. Her final song was "Someone Else's Story" from the musical "Chess".

Toni Huegel will be a sophomore at Springfield High School, where she has performed as Lady Rowena in "Once Upon A Mattress". She's also been seen as Dorothy in Viviana Theatre Company's "The Wizard of Oz", and also played Sleeping Beauty in their production of "Into The Woods". The Sondheim show is a favorite of hers, and this summer she was seen as The Witch in "Into The Woods" at The Media Theatre, where she has also been in productions of "13: The Musical" and "The Real Story of Little Red Riding Hood".

Iron Workers Bank's President John Whitig with "The Vocalist 2017" winner Toni Huegel.
Iron Workers Bank is the talent competiton's title sponsor.
"Performing has been a huge part of my life for the past four years," she said. "Music is a universal language and can tell a story when words cannot. I am thrilled to have won "The Vocalist" as performing is something that's helped me break out of my shell and makes me who I am today. Thanks to everyone, this is just amazing!"

Two of the top five were from New Jersey. Second place winner Nyah Anderson, 16, is from Woolwich Township, and third place winner Amanda Barrish, 24, is from Mount Laurel. In fourth place was Michael Deboer, 18, of Exton, and fifth place went to Glenolden's Lauren Faulkner.

During the three week competition, the young vocalists were given points in three categories (Vocal Ability, Stage Presence, and Song Choice) by several guest judges including Broadway and regionally known professional actors and singers, as well as from representatives from Iron Workers Bank, the title sponsor for the contest. The one constant judge each week, and seen onstage as he would regularly chat with the contestants, was Jesse Cline. Cline is The Media Theatre's Artistic Director. He had one extra category, Individualism, on his score sheet. "I see them perform each week, and know what they are capable of," he explained. "So the extra category is all about their uniqueness and sense of self-awareness."

"We created this contest eleven years ago," Cline said. "It furthers our mission of music theatre education, allowing young people an opportunity each week to actually perform songs they love in front of a live audience. They are all winners, as they are finding ways to express themselves doing what it is they love to do. Audiences enjoy it, and we thank Iron Workers Bank for continuing to support this important program each summer."

Cline continued, "As a professional music theatre company that produces a five show Broadway Series season every year from September through June, it's very important that we include educational opportunities for young people. We have had nationally recognized names on our stage, and they set a great example for these young performers to follow."

"We have "Carousel" coming up in the fall," Cline said. "Joseph Spieldenner will play the role of Billy Bigelow for us, and he just finished a Broadway run of "Les Miserables" not too long ago. After that, we have Disney's extremely popular version of "Beauty and The Beast" for the holidays. Both shows will have young actors in the cast, which is also a component of our educational opportunities for youth."

"The Vocalist 2017" was emceed each week by Kelly Briggs, who appeared on Broadway in "Cats" and several other musicals. Briggs is often seen in productions at The Media Theatre, and is also in "Carousel" this fall (Sept. 20 through Oct. 22). The contestants were accompanied by the theatre's Resident Music Director Ben Kapilow.

For more information regarding acting classes, voice lessons, dance class, or The New School at The Media Theatre, call 610-891-0100 or visit Subscriptions are available for the entire Broadway Series season which includes "Carousel", Disney's "Beauty and The Beast", "Next To Normal", "IF/ THEN" (a Philadelphia regional professional premiere), and Disney's "Newsies". 

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