Heather Villaescusa Wins Mama’s Next BIG Act!

| September 1, 2017

Heather Villaescusa Wins Mama’s Next BIG Act!

Lauren Stanford Is First Runner-Up

Photos by Maryann Lopinto

After two weeks of preliminaries and eight weeks of competition, NYC’s Don’t Tell Mama’s Mama’s Next BIG Act! crowned Heather Villaescusa the 2017 winner, and Lauren Stanford was named 1st runner-up. The remaining vocalist contestants in the top five were Gracie Lee Brown, Justin Nastro, and Toddy Phillips.

As winner, Heather will receive a $1500 stipend towards a 4-show run at Don’t Tell Mama in early 2018, an article in Cabaret Scenes magazine, a design package, a poster on the Wall of Fame at DTM, a scholarship to the Cabaret Retreat at Heron’s Landing, AND… a George Foreman Grill!  Lauren will perform her own set as Heather’s opening act.

The two-time MAC Award-winning contest is the brainchild of Lennie Watts (who also started the MetroStar Talent Challenge during his tenure at the Metropolitan Room). Produced by Don’t Tell Mama and hosted by Watts, with musical direction by Steven Ray Watkins, the 20+ contestants were whittled down over the eight weeks based on audience votes and those of the judges. For the third year, the permanent judges were Tanya Moberly and Frank Dain, who were joined by a different guest judge each week, with two guest judges the final night.

Before the five finalists each presented their last pair of songs to be judged and commented on, that last evening of the competition, August 29, began with a number by the host himself joined by the vocal quartet Those Girls.  Also featured performances by past winners Amorika Amoroso (2015) and Joshua Lance Dixon (2016), as well as Lisa Yaeger (2015 1st runner up), Wendy Russell (2015 2nd runner up), Cheo Bourne (2016 1st runner up), Julissa Miranda (2016 top 5) and David LaMarr. Sylvia Feldman made an appearance as MC, introducing the performers while the ballots were tallied.

Heather Villaescusa

Lauren Stanford

Gracie Lee Brown

Justin Nastro

Toddy Phillips

The Top Five (L-R)
Lauren Stanford, Gracie Lee Brown, Toddy Phillips,
Justin Nastro, Heather Villaescusa

Heather Villaescusa, Lennie Watts, Lauren Stanford

Sylvia Feldman & Steven Ray Watkins

Amorika Amoroso

Joshua Lance Dixon

Lisa Yaeger

Wendy Russell

Cheo Bourne

Julissa Miranda

 

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Category: Cabaret Features, Listings and News, New York City, New York City Cabaret Features, New York City Listings and News, Regional

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