Over 300 supporters came out on a rainy night with donations for the local food pantries to cheer on the 20 middle and high school hopefuls that would take the stage during the three-hour show. Photos by Nicole B. Brewer
- It wasn't a high school dance that had the Hampton Bays High School packed on Friday night, no, it was the Third Annual Hampton Idol competition. Over 300 supporters came out on a rainy night with donations for the local food pantries to cheer on the 20 middle and high school hopefuls that would take the stage during the three-hour show.
As the excitement mounted backstage the auditorium filled with parents, friends, and family, many who brought signs and cheered all night long for their favorites. Backstage there were noticeable nerves and excitement as the performers received hair and makeup preparations by the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Cosmetology Program students and wardrobe assistance from Fandango of Hampton Bays.
, Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor and Director of Human Services welcomed everyone and gave a bit of encouragement to the performers who were waiting in the wings. Former winner, Peter Cybulski
brought the humor and introduced the first performer, Francesco Logozzo
of Westhampton Beach. As with many teenage boys he was dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt, yet his casual swagger and self-confidence radiated to the back of the room as he sat at the piano and effortlessly sang, "Imagine" by John Lennon
. You could hear a pin drop as he finished and then resounding applause as he set the bar high for the rest of the performers.
Dakota Thilberg and Kayla Duval of Eastern Suffolk BOCES style performer Nora
, of Hampton Bays High School, was the first of many who sang country songs belting out Carrie Underwood's
hit, "Before He Cheats." Elizabeth Lowry
, 13, of Hampton Bays Middle School, was in the competition for the first time this year but is no stranger to the stage having performed the lead in her school play last year. Lowry exclaimed, "I'm very excited!" while waiting to go on and then performed "Born To Fly."
, of Westhampton Beach High School, channeled the easy, 1940s bluesy tones of Norah Jones
with her rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin'" while Emily Anderson
, of Southampton High School, had the audience clapping along to her performance of "Want To."
Newcomer Alexa Smith
, seventh grade student at Westhampton Beach Middle School, was convinced by friends to give the challenge a try and brought her A-game and plenty of personality and stage presence as she performed "The Wizard and I" from the Broadway hit "Wicked." Lianna Fitt
, 14, of Westhampton High School, laughed and said just moments before taking the stage, "I'm mortally terrified, I'm really scared, but excited at the same time." Fitt was all calm and grace as she sang a lovely rendition of "I'll Stand By You" by The Pretenders.
Confidence was key for Jacqueline Saccente
, of Westhampton Beach High School, as she took her time singing "Bubbly." Dakota Kalbacher
brought along some on-stage support with guitarist Theo Pinto
performing "I'm Yours." The young Audrey Jade Beralo
, of Southampton Middle School, sang "One Moment In Time" and Morgan Lazar
, 15, of Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, seemed to have fun as she sang "Put Your Records On" and even giggled at the end.
The Ross School was represented that evening by Chela Tree Novak
who took to the piano to play and sing "Winter." Brian Schwartz
, of Ross School, sang "Electricity." Shelby Smith-Pilero
, 17, of Westhampton High School, a returning performer form last year, was looking to get her nerve back and remarked, "Nerves got the best of me last year." Well nerves were the last thing anyone who was waving their arms to the rhythm noticed as she sang "Oh Darlin'" this year. As they say, she really sold it.
If you had closed your eyes you would have sworn Jennifer Hudson
was singing as Ashley Bennett
, of Hampton Bays High School, coolly crooned "Sexy Love." Antonia Orlo-Berlinger
, of Westhampton Beach High School, sang "Tainted Love." Emma Burnhardt
, 13, of Riverhead Middle School was channeling the 1920s wearing a flapper dress and headband and remarked, "I was in Riverhead Idol last year. I saw a notice for Hampton Idol and tried out. Tonight I'm like 'oh my God.' But I like being on stage." She played to the audience as she sang, "Les Hot Jazz."
Hamptons Idol III winner Alexa Smith.
, of Mercy High School, was emotional as she sang, "Feelin' Good." Liz Oldak
, of Pierson High School, was lovely and strong as she sang, "A Change In Me." Ending the first round Nicole Simons
, of Mercy High School, was sassy as she sang "Before He Cheats."
Taking a brief intermission to tally the votes by judges Amanda Halsey
, Matthew Hurst
, Mark Schumaker
, Teresa DiStefano
, and Kristen Steinke
the audience milled about buying raffle tickets, making plans for celebrating afterwards, and watched the Hampton Idol audition video produced by Anthony Arfi
of Double A Productions. Leo Gala
, of the Southampton Youth Bureau, was a happy host greeting families and providing encouragement to the students as they refreshed themselves before the announcement of the seven finalists.
Tension mounted as the finalists were announced - Liz Oldak
, Nora Davenport
, Jocelyn Snyder
, Ashley Bennett
, Alexa Smith
, Nicole Simons
, and Emily Anderson
. It was a combination of Broadway tunes, emotional ballads, and songs filled with teen angst as each young lady took the stage for her final performance.
The young Alexa Smith
took the top spot with her performance of "I Hope You Dance" that had the crowd on their feet as she belted out the Lee Ann Womack
chart-topper. Liz Oldak
and Nicole Simons
were tied for second, Ashley Bennett
was third, and Jocelyn Snyder
took fourth place. Winners received a mix of prizes from Capital One Bank
, Hampton Music and Arts, McDonald's, PMA Recording Studios, Power Play Music, Rock Star Band Camp, Systems Design, and Tanger Outlet Center
Everyone had a chance to receive a bit more applause as all 20 performers took the stage to sing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." With so much talent under one roof we're sure to see an even bigger show next year with some returning favorites who can't wait to do it all over again.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to a clerical error on the night of the event only four young ladies were named in the top four places. There was in fact a tie for second place between Nicole Simons and Liz Oldak, as per representatives from the Southampton Youth Bureau on Wednesday, March 4. This article reflects that new information.
Nicole, an award-winning journalist, is Executive Editor & Publisher of Hamptons.com where she focuses on celebrity interviews, fine living and design, social events, fashion and beauty. She lives on the North Fork with her husband, their two daughters, and Bernese Mountain dog, Cooper. www.hamptons.com