By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Forget American Idol! Bay Ridge has Teen Idol, a talent contest for young people that generated a great deal of excitement with its debut last year.
Sponsored by the Bay Ridge Community Council's Committee for Arts and Culture, Teen Idol is a one-night-only competition in which teenagers sing their hearts out for the audience and a panel of judges. At the end of the night, the judges select the winner.
The contestants, who range in age from 13 to 18, auditioned in July for a spot in the finale, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Xaverian High School, 7100 Shore Road.
The committee, co-chaired by Anthony Marino and Karen Tadross, recently announced the finalists. The contestants are: Christina Chimento, Nicolette Shin, Alfred Mendez, Amanda Poli, Patty Piccinonno, Ashley Chic, Tim Sundholm, Nicole Gatto, Taylor Leigh Cannon, Dana Curreri, Kristin Furfaro, Amanda Marucci, Mona Bruno, Melissa Licciardello and Victoria Amato.
The finale will include a spectacular opening number, which will feature all of the performers singing together. There will also be a special performance by last year's winner, Austin Zambito-Valente.
At the first Teen Idol contest, in the fall of 2011, Austin wowed the judges with his rendition of ‘I Who Have Nothing.”
Austin and his fellow finalists drew large, enthusiastic crowds when they performed “You Can’t Stop The Beat,” from the Broadway show “Hairspray” from the main stage at the Third Avenue Festival last year.
During the rehearsal process for this year’s Teen Idol contest, the finalists are being mentored by members of the Committee for Arts and Culture, who are offering the teens advice on how to perfect their performances.
The committee is made up of members of local art groups including Bay Ridge Festival of the Arts, BrooklynOne Theater & Film, Narrows Community Theater, Ridge Chorale/Jeff Samaha Theater Productions, and The Art Room.
The judges for the Teen Idol 2011 included Kevin Smith Kirkwood, a cast member of the Tony Award winning “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee;” Doreen Montalvo, a cast member of the Tony Award winner for Best Musical “In the Heights;” Luis Salgado, Tony Award winning choreographer for “In the Heights” and Jay Aubrey Jones, cast member of the Broadway show “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
The panel of judges for this year has not yet been announced.
The Teen Idol winner will receive a prize of $500. The audience will also have a chance to vote for their favorite and the winner of the Fan Favorite will receive a prize of $100.
Tadross said members of the Committee for Arts and Culture came up with the idea for Teen Idol “as a way to promote the arts in our community and to get more youth performers involved in the Bay Ridge arts scene.”
The net profits from the event will benefit the Kassenbrock Memorial Scholarship Fund, a scholarship program started by the Bay Ridge Community Council for local students.