Englewood Idol Crowns 3rd Male

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All at once, calmness turned to madness at the Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC) on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, just a few hours before Englewood Idol was set to begin. Backstage, the 12 Idol semi-finalists paced back and forth, getting ready for their star moment on stage in front of 1,300 people. Although they were supplied with food, cough drops, and tea, nothing could calm their nerves.

They were not the only ones who were nervous, however. Producer Judy Aronson, the Englewood Idol staff, and members of the Dr. John Grieco Scholarship Fund were running around trying to set everything up before the show began. The mad rush to be ready on time was expected, but what was unexpected was last-minute technical difficulty, such as the master CD of the semi-finalists songs not playing.

“Of course there’s going to be chaos right before any show,” director Mindy Rochman said. “But once the show starts and everything gets into place, it’s incredible. I felt that there was an excitement this year that we haven’t seen in the past.”

The lights dimmed and the cheering began as last year’s Englewood Idol Brian Park took the stage right on time singing “Too Close” by Alex Clare.

“I could feel the excitement coming from the audience. But at the same time I felt a little sad since it would be the last time that I would perform for Englewood Idol,” Brian explained excitedly.

This year Brian not only opened the show, but also served as an audition judge and a vocal coach for the Idols.

“It was awesome being an audition judge, but I also felt a little weird because I was the one standing in front of judges just a year ago,” Brian said.

But with Brian’s opening, so came the time for the new Englewood Idol semi-finalists to perform: Dasia Capers, Jennie De Castro, Gina Marie Enriquez, Rebekah Han, Nigel Lassiter, Stephanie Nunez, Melissa Rosner, Natalie Sanchez, Myshya Spencer, Amirah Thomas, Tyler Vidale, and Fabiola Zapata. Five semi-finalists were from Dwight Morrow, three from the [email protected], three from Dwight-Englewood, and one from Bergen Tech.

After months of practice, it was Amirah “Amy Blue” Thomas who opened the show and successfully brought energy to the crowd in a way that seemed almost as if Amy’s energy was turning into the crowd’s energy. One by one, the Idols took the stage to sing their hearts out in hopes of being one of the five finalists. The finalists were chosen by the five judges, Alexander Diaz of bergenPAC, Florian Bellanger of Mad Mac Macaroons, singer Felicia “Fenix” Graham, singer and songwriter Cassandra Lucas, and Jim Steen of bergenPAC.

[email protected] senior Jennie De Castro was the last of the semifinalists to take the stage. Jennie could barely control her nerves just moments before she stepped onto the stage.

“Right before I went up, I started to really panic,” Jennie explained. “My knees were shaking, my palms got clammy…the whole deal. Soojin, my accompanist, had to hold my hand, and Ms. Rochman had to literally – like physically – shake some sense into me.”

While the judges decided who would be the Englewood Idol finalists, the audience watched the Englewood Idol audition video. The audition video was created with much time and effort by seniors Luisa Arias and Nicola Goddard, who both also helped work the sound booth during Englewood Idol rehearsals. Laughter and cheering filled the auditorium as the video played off-key, off-beat moments.

The five finalists were announced by emcees Joshua Beckham, Alex De Los Reyes and Kylah Gonzalez. The finalists were asked to step forward. In a silent auditorium, the finalists were named: Amy Blue, Fabiola Zapata, Nigel Lassiter, Gina Marie Enriquez and Jennie De Castro.

“When they called my name I felt awesome,” [email protected] junior Fabiola Zapata said. “I felt really happy and accomplished. It was like all the hard work was paying off.”

The finalists’ excitement and surprise had to be contained pretty quickly because, after a brief intermission, they performed once again. Some of the finalists changed their tempo, some their clothes, but all continued to pour out their song notes on key and with style.

As is the tradition, once the singing is complete and the audience voting begins for the winning Idol, the Dance Crew competition takes place. The competition for Englewood’s Best Dance Crew was fierce this year. Instead of the usual three dance crews, this year’s competitors consisted of five dance crews: three from the Dwight-Englewood School, Three Pop-A-Teers, , Fab Five and Triple Eclipse; a Latin dance crew from the [email protected] called Rumba Latina; and a dance crew from Dwight Morrow High School and the Academies known as Nyame Ama. The judges would decide the winner of Englewood’s Best Dance Crew.

When voting was complete, Dance Crews and Idol finalists stepped back onto stage. Some eyes were cast down, some faces held grins, but all were ready to find out who the winners of the night were.

The winners of Englewood’s Best Dance Crew were called first. The “Fab Five” from Dwight-Englewood took the prize.

Next, the two runner-ups for Englewood Idol were announced: Amirah Thomas from Dwight Morrow, second runner up, and Gina Marie Enriquez from Dwight-Englewood, third runner up.

At last, Dwight-Englewood’s Nigel Lassiter was crowned 2013’s Englewood Idol. The cheers and screams were ear-shattering as the crown was placed on Nigel’s head. Although Nigel was unavailable for comment, his performance and determination impacted many including Dwight Morrow High School junior Myshya Spencer.

“The experience of being a part of the show was great,” Myshya said. “The best parts were the people I met and what they brought to the competition. I will definitely be auditioning for Englewood Idol next year!”

From the auditions to the actual show, putting together an event like Englewood Idol is no easy feat. It is clear that the stars of Englewood Idol are not just the 12 semi-finalists. The stars are also those who do planning in September and October to line up judges and help with auditions; those who spread the word to three different schools and set a date with bergenPAC; those who, like former Idol Brian Park, work with the Idols on performing skills and uniting them as a group; and, finally, those who give of their own time, such as art teacher Grace Browne, who created silhouettes of singers to decorate the stage, adding a cool, new atmosphere to the show this year.

With such a great show this year, one wonders how the Englewood Idol team will top it next year. Ms. Aronson already has some ideas.

“For next year’s show I want to try to showcase the dancers a little bit more,” Ms. Aronson said. “Our dancers put a lot of effort in, and it’s very hard to balance the needs of the singers with those of the dancers, and every year the dancers become better. So I’d like to show their talents more.”

Englewood Idol would not have been possible without the numerous sponsors that helped bring the show to life. This year’s show had the most sponsors ever in the history of Englewood Idol. Sponsors included Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, PNC Bank, NVE Bank, TD Bank, Suburbanite, Attorney Robert B. Linder, the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, and, most notably, the Community Chest.

This year, the Dr. John Grieco Scholarship Fund made $11,220, which is $2,000 more than last year, all thanks to the sponsors and the audience for supporting the dreams of the Idols and Dance Crews.