When 16-year-old Madelyn Wanke stepped onto the stage for Montefiore’s inaugural Shining Star CLE singing competition, she had one goal – to evoke an emotional response from the audience. She succeeded, and in the process, she earned first place.
“(It) was such a surprise and I’m so humble to have won this,” Wanke, a junior at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School in Munson Township, told the Cleveland Jewish News. Her rendition of “Creep,” an early 1990s hit by British rock band Radiohead, won her a $10,000 college scholarship and an opportunity to perform with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra at Severance Hall in Cleveland.
Ten finalists took the stage Oct. 22 at the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland and performed music ranging from famous musicals to rebel Irish anthems before a crowd of 800.
Through sponsorships, playbill advertisements and patron and general admissions tickets, the event raised about $284,000 – all of which will go to Montefiore’s memory care program at its Beachwood location and The Weils in Bainbridge Township.
“I think the talent was far beyond the expectation,” said Debbie Rothschild, director of the Montefiore Foundation. “I think it represented Cleveland in such a beautiful way to know we have that quality of talent among our young students. I think it showcases a bright future for theater and the performing arts in Cleveland.”
Kate Klika, of Firestone High School in Akron, was first runner up with “Vanilla Ice Cream” from the Broadway musical “She Loves Me!” and received a $5,000 scholarship. Ashley Fulton, of Hawken School in Chester Township, was second runner-up with the Broadway musical Dreamgirls’ “I am Changing” and received a $2,500 scholarship. Kirstin Henry, of Chardon High School, was third runner-up with “Astonishing” from the Broadway musical “Little Women” and earned a $1,000 scholarship.
The 10 finalists also learned at the end of the night they each received a private mentoring session with Broadcast Music, Inc., a global music rights management company, to help them achieve their goals of becoming successful singer-songwriters – which Wanke plans to take advantage of.
“Honestly, I really want to make music,” she said. “It’s something that I love and I think it’s the only way I can fully connect with people beyond just conversational.”
The other finalists were Sarah Grube from Shaker Heights High School; Bradd Hilston from Eastlake North High School; Adriana Holst from Chagrin Falls High School; Molly Moran from Eastlake North High School; Shobitha Sanjeevan from Solon High School; and Malcolm White from Cleveland Heights High School.
The top four performers were determined by four judges: Liz Huff, a music performer; Mark Pedowitz, president of the CW Network; Dee Perry, a retired radio personality; and Carl Topilow, artistic director and conductor of Cleveland Pops Orchestra. Then, the audience and judges jointly chose the winners.
The Cleveland Jewish News was a sponsor of the event.