Maddi Kilgore has chosen to sing a song that’s about “life” and “challenges” and “never giving up on your dreams,” she said.
The 15-year-old will realize one of her own dreams next weekend when she performs on the Mead Theatre stage at the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Sept. 29.
“I auditioned because my dream is to be a performer and to use my singing as a way to give back and to reach and help others,” the South Lebanon high school sophomore who’s played Annie at La Comedia Dinner Theatre. “We can never know what life holds, but we have to believe and work hard for all of our dreams, and they can come true.”
Maddi is one of 15 acts chosen for the Victoria Theatre Association’s upcoming special event, “So You Think You Can Play the Schuster.” The contest is part of the Schuster’s 10th anniversary celebration.
“We wanted to create an event where entertainers in the community had an opportunity to perform at the Schuster,” explains Gary Minyard, the VTA’s education & engagement director. “We had 96 groups audition ranging in age from six to undetermined. And we had a wide range of talent.”
After the initial audition that included amateurs and professionals, 25 were selected as part of an online voting forum to identify the top 15. More than 14,000 votes were tallied.
The winners will appear at the upcoming showcase, hosted by local personality Jim Bucher. The show will feature singing, drumming, dance, piano, choral groups and belly dancing, for example. Each finalist will perform before four judges and the live audience; the judges will determine the top three acts and they will each perform once again. Three cash prizes will be awarded, including a $1,000 top prize.
In addition to finalist performances, seven up-and-coming performers and groups will entertain the crowd while judges confer. They include Ava Bressler of Dayton (piano), Grace Levan of Miamisburg, (Monologue), Victoria Long of Kettering, (Dance), Katie Humble of Beavercreek, (Guitar/Voice), Alex Wunder of Kettering, (singer), Out of the Darkness of New Lebanon, (acrobats), and Taylor Bryan of Beavercreek (dance).
The judge’s panel includes: Gerald Belle, concert promoter; Karen Russo Burke, artistic director at Dayton Ballet; Danielle Dowler, FLY 92.9 on-air personality; and, Ken Neufeld, president & CEO of Victoria Theatre Association and The Arts Center Foundation.
Dave Santucci, pianist for the Blue Heron trio, says the members of his group were “absolutely thrilled” and “frankly surprised” when they were chosen to perform.
“The Schuster is such a landmark of ‘New Dayton’ to us,” he says. “Although its been here with us for 10 years, it is still one of the most significant moves that Dayton made to mark its commitment to revitalizing our beautiful, historic downtown. To be able to share in a celebration commemorating its beginnings is an honor.”
MEET THE STARS:
Abby, a 12-year-old seventh grader at Watts Middle School in Centerville, has a passion for musical theater. She’s currently in rehearsal for Disney’s “Aladdin Jr.” playing the role of Jasmine at the Town Hall Theatre in Centerville. Abby is a member of the Watts Middle Choir and has performed the national anthem at Dayton Dragon’s games several times.
Blue Heron Trio:
With lead vocalist Elisha Frontz, Phil Myers on saxophone and acoustic guitar, and Dave Santucci on keyboard, Blue Heron Trio creates a jazz-like sound from all genres of music as well as original songs. Longtime friends, the Blue Heron Trio formed in 2011, performs throughout southwest Ohio, and can frequently be seen at the Amber Rose Restaurant and at local festivals.
Post is a pianist and composer from Dayton who grew up in the small town of Breckenridge, Texas, where she started playing piano at the age of 8. She currently works at Cox Media Group Ohio and is also a “Dining Diva” for the Dayton Daily News, reviewing restaurants and cookbooks. Post, who says she is inspired by Bach and Beethoven, will perform an original piece. She’ll spend her birthday on the Schuster stage.
David is a 17-year-old senior at the Dominion Academy of Dayton who started playing guitar four years ago, and currently plays for the Academy’s chapel and morning assembly. Last summer he took first place in the Dayton Teen Music Slam and recorded his own CD.
Dillon “Stoney D” Stoneburner:
Dillon, a 17-year-old dancer from Wayne High School, has been dancing for 10 years and has been a part of underground dance battles throughout the Midwest. After high school, he plans on heading to Las Vegas or LA and becoming a professional dancer/singer/songwriter.
Gem City Chorus:
The members of this all-women a cappella chorus are members of the Sweet Adeline’s International organization. Formed in 1970, the Gem City Chorus has grown to 65 members of all ages. They perform all over the Miami Valley and have earned first place a total of five times in the Sweet Adeline International Competition. The director is Troy Kaper.
Kettering Civic Band:
Originated in 1959, the band’s 12 members have expanded to 70 . Under the direction of David Keener, a retired teacher and college professor, The Kettering Civic Band has traveled to Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Scotland and Wales. Their most memorable performance was a joint concert with Kettering’s sister city in Steyr, Austria, in 1995.
Maddi is a 15-year-old sophomore from Fairborn, a student at Kings High School, where she is a member of the choir, the school’s a cappella group, and is currently in rehearsal for Children’s Theatre of Mason’s musical “Horizons of Gold.” When she isn’t singing show tunes, Maddi also loves to sing pop songs and ballads. She loves also playing guitar.
Megan is a 16-year-old from Fairborn and a student at Stivers High School, where she studies dance and theater. She has studied dance since she was 2 years old at the Miami Valley Dance Center. She says her most memorable performance was performing her MLK modern piece at her school’s annual recital.
Hall is a 40-year-old opera singer from Grove City. He has studied voice at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and was a semi-finalist last year in the Cincinnati Opera’s Opera Idol. When he isn’t singing or working as a system administrator for Nationwide Insurance, Sam devotes his time to his wife and three children.
Roth, a 19-year-old sophomore at Ohio Northern University, is a member of three choirs, studies voice and is majoring in computer engineering. Originally from Piqua, Roth has been singing and performing in musical theater since the first grade. Two of his favorite roles are the Beast in “Beauty and the Beast” and Jean Valjean in ‘Les Miserables.’
St. Charles Church Choir:
The St. Charles Church Choir is a group of singers and instrumentalists from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Kettering. Under the leadership of Ted Singer, director of music, and Lisa Singer, choir director, the choir performs regularly not only at church services, but also as a concert choir, entertaining audiences with a large variety of music styles, old and new – from Gershwin to show tunes, New Age to light jazz, pop to classical, sacred to holiday favorites. Members of the choir come from all walks of life and their ages range from teens to early 80s.
Keith is a 27-year-old drummer from Miamisburg and began playing drums at the age of 3. He has been a part of numerous bands including an R&B band, and Michael Locke and the Repeat Offenders, which just finished a 10-year run at the Oregon Express in Dayton. He also performs at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. He currently works for PNC but hopes to make a profession out of his gift and tour with a band as a full-time musician.
Cunningham is a 31-year-old from Middletown who works as a wardrobe consultant at The Men’s Warehouse in Cincinnati. He has had no formal vocal training, but does credit his car, shower and room for his training. He started doing musicals while in high school, attended The Ohio State University and was a member of The Ohio State University Men’s Glee Club. His most memorable performance was being able to perform during the halftime show of a Buckeye football game on the field at Ohio Stadium. William, who considers himself “a little awkward and shy,” says this performance is his “go-for-it moment.”
Al-Naseem is a 30-year-old Middle Eastern (“belly”) dancer from Kettering. During the day, she works in international sales for Mead and as an instructor at My Pilates Studio in Centerville. She started studying Middle Eastern dance while in high school and trained with internationally known instructors. As a member of Troupe Roja, Zattana has performed at World A’Fair, St. Ignatius Lebanese Festival and Urban Nights. Al-Naseem is most inspired by the belly dancing community; she loves their constant support for each other and creativity.
HOW TO GO:
What: “So You Think You Can Play the Schuster,” area talent competition finals. Hosted by Jim Bucher.
When: - 5 p.m., Sept. 29
Where: Mead Theatre, the Schuster Center, downtown Dayton
Tickets: $10 at Ticket Center Stage (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com. Tickets will also be available at the door.
For more information: www.victoriatheatre.com
To see the top 15 finalist auditions, visit http://www.victoriatheatre.com/schuster-anniversary/sytycpts-finalists/.