Three hundred people came out Friday, November 17th to see ten of the most talented vocalists in the school battle it out for their shot at making Wheatley history. However, at the end of the night, only one artist was crowned the winner of the 13th Wheatley Idol.
Wheatley Idol is an annual singing competition hosted by the Tri-M Music Honor Society that pays homage to the late Fox show American Idol. Prior to the actual competition, hopefuls audition in front of a panel of Tri-M members to determine the contestants of the event. The contestants then put countless hours into rehearsals and sound checks, and finally on the night of, the ten singers converge on one stage to showcase their talents in a series of rounds. In round one, each singer performs a song for a panel of three judges. At the end of the round, the judges select three contestants to advance to the second round. In round two, the three vocalists each perform one additional song and after, the audience members vote to determine the winner of the night.
To ensure that the competition runs smoothly, two hosts maintain the musical flow and provide witty interludes to keep the audience on its feet throughout the show. This year’s hosts,seniors Michaela Balboni and Saman Suleman, proved that together they have undeniable chemistry in the funny bone department. Their cheesy humour mixed with the audience’s animated responses created a nurturing environment for the nervous contestants.
Now, onto the contestants! In order of performance, the contestants were Grace McPhillips (11th Grade), Kavina Amin (10th Grade), Shruti Goyal (9th Grade), Gabriella Zucker (11th Grade), Brianna Werney (9th Grade), Jaime Behar (8th Grade), Michelle Porter (11th Grade), Tessa Karikas (12th Grade), Emma Melnikov (9th Grade), and Hallie Arbital-Jacoby (12th Grade). This dynamic group performed hits from Ed Sheeran to Billy Joel, and even La La Land, while each adding her own flair to the song.
To bolster the dynamic of this fun group of girls, the audience was treated to a panel of judges that comprised of some of Wheatley’s finest teachers: Mr. Eckers, Mr. Wilson, and Mrs. Seferian. Unlike most years, two out of the three judges this year have musical expertise and are currently active in the music industry. Mr. Eckers and Mr. Wilson, both having directed and performed in numerous musicals, offered musicality suggestions and constructive criticism to the contestants which many audience members believed resonated with the iconic judging style of Simon Cowell. Their comments were well received and geared towards making the contestants’ future performances more impactful, turning them into better musicians. Mrs. Seferian, on the other hand, provided the singers with warming compliments and advice which made her an instant crowd favorite.
Before moving on to the next round, Tri-M showed its annual music video compilation, this year showcasing Wheatley students singing “Feel It Still.” Then, the finalists were revealed by the hosts and the contestants qualifying for the next round were Hallie, Tessa, and Emma. After a round filled with Miley Cyrus, Adele, and Les Mis, the audience voted for the next Queen of Wheatley Idol. However, just prior to announcing the winner, last year’s Wheatley Idol winner Kaileigh Fiorillo performed “Burn” from the hit broadway musical Hamilton. Fiorillo then crowned Hallie Arbital-Jacoby the winner of Wheatley Idol.
Hallie had been a previous contestant of Wheatley Idol but she found success this year, her senior year. If you didn’t have the opportunity to hear Hallie’s beautiful voice in person at Wheatley Idol, you’ll have another chance to hear her before she leaves Wheatley in the school spring musical, Into the Woods.
If you think you have the vocal chops to compete in this annual competition, look out for an auditions announcement next October or join a few other musically talented students and audition for Wheatley’s Got Talent in March. Congratulations again to all of the contestants this year and stay musical, Wheatley!