David Baida Wins 2016 MetroStar

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David Baida Is Crowned 2016 MetroStar

Metropolitan Room, NYC, August 23, 2016

Photos: Maryann Lopinto

David Baida
David Baida

On August 23, David Baida was announced as the 2016 MetroStar, surviving the seven-week competition to become the winner.

Wendy Scherl  was named 1st runner up and April Leonhard was 2nd runner up.

  Grabbing the Special Audience award was song and dance man Stanley Martin (Aladdin on Broadway). Samuel McDonald rounded out the Top Five.

Wendy Scherl, David Baida, April Leonard

Baida, who plays an array of character roles as an ensemble member of Broadway’s On Your Feet, was, in the words of one judge “always prepared, so smart, like he knew what he needed to do at every turn.”  Another judge commented, “we like your talent, it’s so obvious, but you are likable too, and that’s just so special to see.”  The Southern California native told the story of how he had come this close to giving up on an acting career before getting the call to join a Broadway cast.

Baida will develop a new show for the Metropolitan Room as part of his prize for winning.


  Leonhard, who played four instruments including trombone, guitar, yukelele and kazoo in the course of the competition, and Scherl will open for Baida when he premieres the show.

While the audience and jury votes were being tallied, singer and director Gretchen Reinhagen (who served as one of the competition’s four permanent judges) performed and paid tribute to the stamina and strong work ethics of the finalists. Last year’s MetroStar winner Minda Larsen, who had just this month finished her very well-received winning show My Southern Song, performed and was as winning as ever.  Another special treat was last year’s Special Audience Award winner—the precocious 10th grader Josephine Bianco — who delivered another barnburner of a vocal performance.

The MAC Award-winning Tom Gamblin, who was the contest’s host and talent wrangler for the sixth time, was loose and good-natured throughout the night; MetroStar’s resident musical director, the prodigiously talented Tracy Stark, once again managed multiple styles and personalities with a seemingly effortless touch.

The 2016 MetroStar Talent Challenge’s permanent judges included the singer and writer (and 2012 MetroStar) Billie Roe; Reinhagen; the Metropolitan Room’s booking manager and cabaret producer Joseph Macchia; and cabaret journalist Roy Sander, who has served as jury chairman since the contest’s inception. Top director Barry Kleinbort was MetroStar’s resident mentor for the second year-in-a-row, offering performance-improving pointers to the contest’s late-stage contestants.

MetroStar, a contest that challenges singers to raise their standards and push themselves artistically, got underway on July 11 and performed on seven consecutive Mondays. Since it began in 2008, MetroStar has launched and redefined the careers of several standouts in cabaret and jazz.  Past winners, in chronological order have included Anne Steele, Liz Lark Brown, T.

Oliver Reid, Marissa Mulder, Billie Roe, Lauren Stanford, Kristoffer Lowe, and Minda Larsen.