A musical theater major from Naples, FL, Whitney Winfield, has been making her Broadway dreams fly in the Big Apple, hurtling into the semifinals of Broadway.tv’s “Next Broadway Star” talent competition. Fans can help her win by voting for her video by “Liking” it at the Broadway.tv website. (http://www.broadway.tv/blog/broadway-blog/next-broadway-star-semifinalist-whitney-winfield/).
Naples Daily News:
“The contest has been a platform for publicizing my career,” Winfield said. “Winning the Next Broadway Star could help bring me more opportunities to audition, make more industry connections, add more videos to my portfolio on YouTube … and not to mention the $5,000 prize to help me pay off student loans.”
“The Next Broadway Star” contestants compete in a series of four monthly contests at the 42nd Street McDonald’s store, the chain’s highest-grossing hamburger shop in the world.
“We perform on a balcony to a crowd below where the judges are also sitting,” Winfield said. “It is an interesting experience performing for strangers who have just come to McDonald’s to have a meal. However, much to their surprise and delight, they also get a ‘show.'”
At each performance, contestants are judged on vocal ability, energy, and stage persona. In addition to the exposure generated by the contest, the winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and a chance to audition for some of Broadway’s most prestigious casting directors and producers.
“The competition is strong,” Winfield said. “We get little rehearsal time and we don’t see each other’s material until an hour before the competition begins, which puts the pressure on at the very last moment.”
Winfield powered through the quarterfinals with “Gimme Gimme” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and rolled out rocking Dixie Chicks anthem “Sin Wagon” (complete with boots and form-fitting, off the shoulder black minidress) for the semifinals.
“I wanted to do the Dixie Chicks song because it’s fun,” Winfield said. “I can do many different styles, based on my background and training, and I want to share that in this competition, as well as on the Internet.
Winfield does indeed have a solid background in country music; she used to perform in country karaoke competitions in Naples and even recorded a short demo CD, which she said her father still “cherishes and will share with anyone who’s interested.”
The judges loved the sexy, country-inspired turn.
Winfield also admitted to banking on strategy in tackling the country number after picking a solid Broadway tune for her first performance.
“The more variety the better in this contest because that is what Broadway today is all about,” she said. “You really need to be able to perform any style asked of you.”
Winfield has been performing since she was 8 – and always knew she wanted to be a performer. Her first role was Besse Mae Mucho in “Aladdin McFaddin,” a children’s theater version of the Disney movie.
“My favorite part of the whole experience was the costume that I got to wear,” Winfield said. “It was a sort of harem girl’s garb, flowing and baring my midriff!”
Neapolitan audiences will remember the songstress from starring roles Naples Players productions such as “Beauty and the Beast” in 2007 and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in 2009, plus “No, No, Nanette” at TheatreZone in January.
Winfield roared into the semifinals with a little help from her friends. Viewers can vote for their favorite contestants online via Facebook, YouTube and Broadway.tv – and Winfield called in the troops from back home. Family, friends and fellow performers – anyone with a Facebook account – helped the young warbler total up 355 “Likes” and earn her the designation as a co-favorite in the competition.
“I have been blessed with a great support system whom I have called upon to aid me in gaining votes for the contest,” Winfield said. “I am so lucky to have people who believe in me as much as they do.”
Now, she’s out to repeat the success.
Winfield left Naples at the age of 15 to attend Interlochen Arts Academy, a prestigious boarding school for the performing arts in Michigan. She’s in her senior year at Pace University in New York City, pursuing a musical theatre degree.
Right now, Winfield is staying busy. She’s working at New York cupcake shop Baked By Melissa, going to school full-time, preparing for winter finals, graduation, senior showcase and gearing up for winter and spring musical auditions. All this, plus the contest.
“There is a lot in the cooker right now,” she said, “and it is a lot to balance, but I find that I work at my best when I am busy and under pressure.”
While the future looms – and hasn’t been written yet, the talented young singer and actress is ready for it.
“In May, I will be a college graduate and I’ll go out in to the world, auditioning and performing,” Winfield said. “I am so excited for what the future holds.”