Posted October 18, 2022 in Articles
Younger performers typically dream of lives on the massive stage or the massive display, working diligently towards futures during which they may have the posh of creating livings doing what they love most. Many have objectives of gaining publicity inside the communities of their crafts, and constantly search paths by which they’ll transfer towards these ambitions.
One of many methods for them to achieve expertise and get their names and abilities recognized is by coming into efficiency competitions.
Northeast Ohio is dwelling to a number of such competitions. A number of of them are the Dazzle Awards by means of Playhouse Sq. in downtown Cleveland, the Cleveland Worldwide Piano Competitors by means of Piano Cleveland in Shaker Heights, and Shining Star CLE, placed on by Menorah Park in Beachwood.
Three performers whose lives have been enhanced by these experiences are JR Heckman, a three-time Dazzle Award recipient for greatest actor in 2016, 2018 and 2019; Yaron Kohlberg, 2007 second-place winner of the Cleveland Worldwide Piano Competitors; and Calista Zajac, first-place winner of Shining Star CLE in 2021. They mirrored on their experiences, what they realized and what’s subsequent for them.
Heckman, now 21, acquired Dazzle Awards for his portrayals of Donkey in “Shrek the Musical” throughout his freshman yr in 2016, Archibald Craven in “The Secret Backyard” throughout his junior yr in 2018, and the Beast in “Magnificence and the Beast ” throughout his senior yr in 2019 – all of which had been introduced by the drama membership at his alma mater, Solon Excessive College.
The Dazzle Awards are a highschool musical theater competitors, aiming to acknowledge the significance of the craft and humanities training regionally, modeled after the Tony Awards, in keeping with Playhouse Sq.’s web site. A particular panel of impartial adjudicators attends a manufacturing at every collaborating faculty, then offers instructional suggestions and scores to find out nominees and awards in additional than 12 classes.
“Truthfully, I can say the Dazzle Awards are what has actually formed me into the individual I’m at this time,” Heckman stated.
Heckman recalled having the chance to satisfy many different youngsters who had been obsessed with musical theater, and who finally turned his inventive friends and collaborators.
He stated by means of the Dazzle Awards, he found confidence in who he’s as a performer and as an individual. The competitors opened different doorways for him, resembling The Nationwide Excessive College Musical Theater Awards in New York Metropolis, also referred to as the Jimmy Awards, the place he was a three-time nominee and finalist. The winner of the very best actress and greatest actor awards within the Dazzle competitors carry out and signify Playhouse Sq. and Northeast Ohio within the Jimmy Awards yearly.
Whereas collaborating within the Jimmy Awards, Heckman stated he stayed within the dorms at New York College and it was there he took curiosity in NYU’s Tisch College of the Arts.
He graduated from Tisch in June 2022, with a Bachelor of Positive Arts in musical theater and display performing, with a minor in producing, he stated, and plans to proceed dwelling in New York Metropolis.
All through his skilled profession to this point, Heckman has portrayed a pupil in HBO Max’s reboot of “Gossip Lady” and has placed on two live shows benefiting Discover Your Gentle Basis, which was based by his idol, Josh Groban.
Heckman stated trying ahead, he has excessive ambitions of starring on Broadway and that his dream position is the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.”
“It was at all times my dream to come back to the Huge Apple and star on Broadway and now, God-willingly, hopefully quickly that might be occurring,” Heckman stated, giving a nod to the competitions that helped him get thus far in his profession . “Applications just like the Dazzle Awards and the Jimmy Awards are so very important for nurturing inventive skills.”
Competitors to Profession
Kohlberg’s 2007 second-place win within the Cleveland Worldwide Piano Competitors helped set up lasting connections for him, and even led as much as him assuming his present place as president of Piano Cleveland, the presenting group for the award.
“After I participated within the competitors, it was 15 years in the past,” Kohlberg stated. “My favourite half about it was the best way the group responded.”
A local of Israel, Kohlberg’s participation within the competitors marked his first time visiting Cleveland. He stated the group’s heat welcomes got here within the types of the individuals who hosted contestants throughout their stays and the enthusiastic audiences on the performances.
One other spotlight of his expertise was interacting with and sharing the stage with famend artists and teams.
“In fact, the good alternative to carry out with the Cleveland Orchestra in (the) finals, that is actually one thing that was fairly unforgettable for me as a younger pianist,” Kohlberg stated.
He recalled the competitors being a major expertise on many ranges, having pushed his limits and inspiring him to get the very best out of himself. It proved to him that he’s able to performing amongst high-level, worldwide performers, he stated.
“Afterward after all, the chance I bought to come back again right here and carry out, and to be on the jury, and later change into the president of the group,” Kohlberg defined, “I imply, this is able to not have occurred if not for the competitors.”
He identified that the short-term advantages of successful the competitors had been the prize cash – which assisted him with revenue as a result of he was a pupil on the time – and the alternatives he acquired for subsequent performances.
“I bought a number of engagements following this,” he stated.
Kohlberg’s expertise as a contestant additionally helped form the best way he sees his position because the now-leader of the group. Piano Cleveland goals to advertise Cleveland as a global vacation spot for the way forward for piano music, creating instructional packages, growing group engagement initiatives, and internet hosting live shows, competitions and programming, in keeping with its web site.
“I’d say that we’re at all times exploring the methods to be as useful as we are able to to our contestants, and that is past what competitions historically do,” he defined.
Piano Cleveland is working to form its competitions to be as related as attainable to at this time’s altering world, Kohlberg stated.
“We’re conscious that at this time’s careers usually are not essentially what they had been perhaps 50 years in the past, that any individual would go and win and they might have a profession,” he stated. “Nowadays, it requires a little bit bit greater than that for younger artists.”
Kohlberg suggested that being a gifted act is “just one step” towards success for younger pianists at this time. Thus, it is very important train them that being part of the “music world” has many faces past efficiency, resembling enterprise and training, he stated.
“It might be with training, it might be with doing all kinds of startup concepts, it might be with partaking classical music to completely different audiences,” he stated. “It might be in several methods.”
Intention behind the efficiency, prize
Zajac, a 17-year-old senior at Magnificat Excessive College in Rocky River, competed in Shining Star CLE her freshman, sophomore and junior years. She speaks fondly of successful the 2021 season of Shining Star CLE, the way it boosted her skills as a performer and the friendships she established alongside the best way.
Shining Star is a solo-singing competitors the place native highschool college students compete for school scholarships. The annual competitors additionally serves as a possibility for Menorah Park to fundraise, carry out group outreach and have interaction youth in its senior well being services’ reminiscence care work.
“My favourite half about doing Shining Star was, I believe, having the ability to meet all the opposite youngsters, particularly my freshman yr,” Zajac stated.
Calista Zajac competes within the 2021 Shining Star CLE competition.
She famous the primary yr she participated was previous to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shifted many occasions to digital settings.
“It was actually thrilling and I used to be doing it with plenty of my buddies that I had recognized earlier than from doing theater, and it was actually thrilling having the ability to do it at Playhouse (Sq.),” she stated.
Maybe a extra sudden profit, Zajac stated she was stunned by how a lot she realized concerning the influence of music on reminiscence care. The competitors raises cash to help reminiscence care packages and providers at Menorah Park.
“I did not know a lot about reminiscence care earlier than I did Shining Star,” she stated. “I by no means actually had a member of the family that was in reminiscence care or that had critical dementia, so it wasn’t one thing that I used to be uncovered to earlier than.”
When she went to Menorah Park for the primary time and was in a position to sing to the residents, it was an eye-opening expertise that taught her how essential music is and the science behind it because it pertains to reminiscence, she defined.
“Successful was actually thrilling, it undoubtedly was not one thing I used to be anticipating,” Zajac stated. “It actually pushed me ahead.”
She stated that the competitors, which started in 2017, has grown in recognition through the years and that as a result of it takes place at Playhouse Sq., lots of people learn about it.
“The competitors connects you with some actually superior folks,” she stated. “It connects you with the Cleveland Orchestra and the conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, and it connects you with plenty of actually good folks within the business proper now.”
These skilled folks had been useful to her as a contestant as a result of they offered sound recommendation because the competitors progressed.
“I believe it actually helped my profession,” Zajac stated. “For one, it was plenty of publicity and lots of people had been coming to see it. Additionally, I realized a lot and I linked with plenty of cool folks.”
Having notable judges resembling Jim Brickman and Telly Leung was additionally a spotlight of her expertise, Zajac stated.
“Even simply having the ability to sing for them is a extremely superior factor for a teenager’s profession, and having the ability to sing for lots of notable folks and being linked to plenty of very skilled, gifted, well-known folks within the Cleveland space, I believe that actually helped me too,” she stated.
Zajac stated she hopes to pursue musical theater in school and believes successful Shining Star CLE might be useful as she continues towards her desired profession path.
“Principally, for me, Shining Star is about discovering the intention behind why I am singing,” Zajac stated.