Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, together with presenting sponsor The Children’s Trust, has announced the 2020 winners of Young Talent Big Dreams, the most widespread local youth talent contest in Miami-Dade history.
A marathon of semifinal competitions for student performers ages 8-17 culminated in the virtual finals conducted on Sept. 26, on YouTube Live. You can watch a video of the finals at www.actorsplayhouse.org.
Prizes ranged from master classes and performing arts scholarships to cash awards and performance opportunities. This year, courtesy of WSVN-7, the grand prize winner also received a free trip — including airfare and hotel — to attend the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles, plus $500 cash.
The countywide competition, which began in January, had just wrapped up its second round of live auditions when the pandemic hit South Florida earlier this year, forcing the competition to shut down all in-person events. But organizers would not let COVID-19 close the curtain on Miami’s top talent. The competition then went virtual, with hundreds of young performers vying for a chance to win by submitting preliminary round audition videos that showcased their talents.
Participation was free and limited to residents of Miami-Dade County. The competition featured a total of six individual categories: pop/rock/rap vocals, musical theater/jazz standards/classical vocals, dance, musical instrument, original spoken word and original vocal and/or instrumental composition. Group categories (six or fewer members) included dance, musical instrument/bands and vocal groups.
“Despite the transition from live stage auditions to virtual auditions in this unprecedented year, the 10th Anniversary Young Talent Big Dreams competition was better than ever,” said Barbara S. Stein, Actors’ Playhouse executive producing director.
“We are proud of all of the contestants who did a terrific job of submitting their auditions virtually and sharing their talent with us. Each and every participant is a true winner for making the effort,” she added.
“Every year, Young Talent Big Dreams is a great showcase for the talent that the youth in Miami-Dade County possess. But this year it was even more,” said James R. Haj, The Children’s Trust president and CEO. “Despite the limitations and distractions imposed by the pandemic, the competitors refused to let the situation stop them. They showed that they would not let their talents be held down. What a show they put on! Congratulations to all of them.”
Young Talent Big Dreams is modeled after reality TV talent shows that offer similar opportunities to contestants through a series of auditions, performances and professional mentoring. Judges include a host of local celebrities and professionals from Miami’s performing arts community.
This year’s finals judges included David Arisco, artistic director for Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre; Suki Lopez, multiplatform creative and arts education professional best known for her role as “Nina” on Sesame Street; Howard Cohen, features writer, the Miami Herald; Christine Cruz, WSVN-7 news anchor, and Gabrielle Graham, Carbonell Award-nominated actress and singer.
Past winners of the competition include Zachary Roy who just reached the semifinals on Season 15 of NBC’s America’s Got Talent, Joana Martinez who achieved a Top 10 placement as part of “Team Gwen (Stefani)” on Season 17 of NBC’s The Voice, Angelina Green who went on to earn the coveted golden buzzer from judge Heidi Klum on Season 12 of NBC’s America’s Got Talent, and Gino Cosculluela who brought home the third place title on Season 16 of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance.
For detailed information on Young Talent Big Dreams, visit www.actorsplayhouse.org.
2020 Young Talent Big Dreams Contest Winners:
Individual Musical Instrument and Overall Grand Prize Winner — Jessica Olivera, 15, Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer.
Individual Original Spoken Word Winner — Brenis Bostick, 17, Miami Norland Senior High School.
Individual Dance Winner — Sophia Torrens, 13, St. Rose of Lima Catholic School.
Individual Original Composition Winner — Story Walker, 12, Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer.
Individual Vocal – Pop/Rock/Rap Winner — Jessica Jeanty, 16, Miami Edison Senior High School.
Individual Vocal – Broadway/Jazz/Classical Winner — Vanessa Bittar, 16, Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer.
Group Musical Instrument Winner — Conflei — Ari Jake Willig, 16, and Kevin Puig Carrasco, 15, both students at Coral Reef Senior High School.
Vocal Groups Winner — Sociedad Actoral Hispanoamericana – Musical Theater Group — Juliana Moreno, 14, Ronald W. Reagan/Doral Senior High School; Dalila Lugo, 15, New World School of the Arts; Rachel Samantha, 16, New World School of the Arts; Agustina Coretti, 17, Immaculata-La Salle High School; Fernando Flores, 16, New World School of the Arts; Darelis Figuera, 17, Doral Academy Preparatory School.
Group Dance Winners — Bowl of Cherries — Gabrielle Lieberman, 14, Ransom Everglades School, and Georgie Weir, 12, Southwood Middle School.