Last night, in what was acknowledged to be the tightest race in four years of MetroStar competitions, Marissa Mulder came out on top, winning the exciting finale of the fourth annual MetroStar Talent Challenge in front of a full house at Metropolitan Room. Hot on her heels were Stacie Perlman (the first runner-up) and Fran Leonardis, the second runner-up, both of whom dazzled the crowd in their final performances. Mulder, who probably was the most consistent throughout the eight-week jury and audience-voted singers' contest, turned in another glittering performance. The two other finalists were Maria Ottavia and Stacey Todd Holt, the last man standing.
But despite the tight race, the atmosphere in the showroom was decidedly relaxed, even festive. Before the results were announced the audience was treated to special performances by the Broadway actress Doreen Montalvo (In the Heights), who served as a guest judge, and T. Oliver Reid, the 2010 MetroStar winner. “Every single one of you could have won this competition,” Tom Gamblin, the contest’s genial host assured the singers, who held hands on stage before the winners were announced.
In addition to Montalvo this year’s rotating guest jurists included a number of notable actors and singers, including Billy Stritch, Scott Coulter, Gregory Generet, Pamela Luss, Lynn DiMenna, Raissa Katona Bennett and Jason Danieley. From the media, the rotating guest jurists also included Bill Boggs, David Kenney, David Noh, James Gavin, Valerie Smaldone and Stephanie Simon. The contest’s three permanent judges were the critic Roy Sander (the chairman), the producer Sherry Eaker and critic Rob Lester. Metropolitan Room’s booking manager Tanya Holt and Joseph Macchia, the head host, also served on the jury. The contest’s resident music directors were Nate Buccieri, Barry Levitt, Jeff Cubeta and Tracy Stark.
Performing two songs each, including a song sung previously in the contest, all five singers were praised for incorporating jury feedback throughout the contest. The top five were the last ones standing from an initial pool of 60 solo singers. The eight-week, jury and audience-voted elimination-round competition began on July 11.
For Mulder, who competed in last year’s contest and was eliminated midway, Metropolitan Room will present a week-long, prime-time engagement in the winter, plus a multi-track Live at Metropolitan Room recording of the new show. Perlman and Leonardis will open for Mulder on alternating nights during the run, and receive demo recordings of their appearances. MetroStar’s career-boosting package of prizes and professional encouragements is worth over $10,000.
Open to performers of all ages and backgrounds who have not played a major engagement at Metropolitan Room, MetroStar encourages singers to present well-rounded stage performances in which creativity, innovation and authenticity are prized over vocal fireworks.
For all the latest MetroStar Talent Challenge information, consult the club's Web site at www.metropolitanroom.com Recently called "the best of New York's smaller clubs" by The New York Times, the Nightlife and Bistro Award-winning Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, celebrated its fifth anniversary in May. For reservations call 212/206-0440.