NEXT BROADWAY STAR Kick-Off: Search for Great White Way’s Singing Sensation

The Next Broadway Star kick-off was held on Monday, August 29, 2011 at the McDonald’s store on 220 West 42nd Street in New York. joined forces with McDonald’s 42nd Street store in hosting the biggest talent competition Broadway has ever seen.

Despite Hurricane Irene and the complete shutdown of mass transit for the very first time in New York, the celebrity–studded event was attended by Broadway glitterati including Russell Fischer (Jersey Boys)Marshal Kennedy Carolan(Hair)Kevin Duda (Book of Mormon and Dangerous Liaisons)Jason Snow(Book of Mormon) and Matt Ancil (La Cage Aux Folles).

Fox 5 reporter Mike Woods, Latin heartthrob Guto Bittencourt, Musician/Composer/Model Brandon Pope, Supermodel/Entrepreneur Patrick Hazlewood, Supermodel/Actress/Entrepreneur Fiona Kuchina, Supermodel/Actor Luis Perrusquia–Dos, Actress Lauren LoGiudice (When Harry Tries to Marry), Aryn Cole (All My Children, Ugly Betty, the upcoming film The Lair), Max Rhyser (In Between Men and the upcoming film The Lair) were just some other celebrities and VIP’s that braved the hurricane and attended the kick-off.

Next Broadway Star host Jonathan D. Lovitz, the popular host of the hit television series Set up Squad took the stage to introduce the three judges: Arne Gundersen, President of Actor’s Equity Foundation; Duncan Stewart Casting Director of Chicago The Musical, La Cage Aux Folles, Radio City Christmas Spectacular; and Gunnar Larson, President & CEO of NetworkGlobal Companies and the owner of, the number one video-specific online channel for Broadway plays and musical theatre.

The judges assessed the contestants on their vocal ability, energy, and POV (Point of View). As Stewart succinctly put it, contestants should have a point of view when they sing. They should know why they are singing and who they are singing to. In sum, the aspiring contestants need a lot more than a good voice to become the Next Broadway Star. They need to be the total package!

The sixteen contestants competing for the coveted top spot were young, sassy, extremely talented and committed. Each of them was handpicked and carefully screened several times by the team from the thousands of talented potential Broadway actors/singers through an auditioning process that took more than five months. Some even flew in from around the country to audition and pursue their Broadway dream.

Sassy Josephine Bauza was the first contestant to hit the stage as she sang and danced to “Take Me or Leave Me” from Rent. Each of the sixteen contestants brought different personalities to the competition. Sassy Melissa Rapelje showed off her incredible dance moves while singing “Show Off” from Drowsy Chaperone, spitfire Collette McLafferty rocked the crowd with “Don’t Stop Believing”, sweet Mariana Leon awed the judges with “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, and crowd favorite Whitney Winfield wowed the audiences and the judges with her dazzling looks and her marvelous voice as she sang “Gimme Gimme” by Modern Millie.

Ten out of the sixteen contestants were chosen by the judges to move to the quarterfinals that will be held on Tuesday, October 4th (see the full list of the quarterfinalists and the links to their respective videos below). The rest parted their ways as they said tearful goodbye to their fellow contestants. Next Broadway Star is different from other talent shows because it aims to provide a break for talented young singers and actors, who dream of making it big on the great white way but don’t have the means to make their dream become a reality.

Next Broadway Star contestant Bianca Espinal was discovered by the Producer of Next Broadway Star at the Grand Central station in New York City. She was singing her heart out to earn some extra money for the summer, before she starts college this fall as a Musical Theatre major at American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Bianca has the talent and Next Broadway Star hopes to give her the break that she so deserves.

Come watch the remaining contestants sing their way to the top at quarterfinals will be held on Tuesday, October 4th between 6-8pm at McDonald’s 42nd Street store. The viewers can vote for their favorite contestants online via Facebook, and The ultimate winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000 dollars, and the chance to audition with the most prestigious casting directors and producers on Broadway.

For more information about Next Broadway Star please click on the link below:

Please find the complete list of quarterfinalist with the links to their videos below:

1.  Josephine Bauza –”Take Me or Leave Me” Rent
2.  Ned Donovan –”Lost in the Wilderness” by Children of Eden
3.  Sherly Saint Cloud– “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston
4.  Clare Solly–”Ain’t There Anyone Here to Love”
5.  Mario Bueno– “One Song Glory” from Rent
6.  David Michaels –”You Raise Me Up”
7.  Collette McLafferty–”Don’t Stop Believing”
8.  Mariana Leon –”The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
9.  Whitney Winfield –”Gimme Gimme” by Modern Millie
10.  Bianca Espinal –”Rolling in the Deep” by Adele

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