|A Look at the First National Music Theater Competition|
In late 2011 NATS announced the first National Music Theater Competition (NMTC) and on June 30, 2012, Jacob Keith Watson, the first winner was announced at the 52nd National Conference in Orlando, FL. The NMTC aims to seek out and award the best emerging talent in music theater
Open to singers age 20-28, the NMTC offered more than $10,000 in cash and prizes to the top three contestants. Sponsors including Hal Leonard Corporation, Stage Door Access, Stage Stars, and ArtsApp all contributed to prize packages for first, second, and third place winner.
In the preliminary rounds, applicants had the option of auditioning in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, or online. Contestants who advanced from the preliminary rounds competed in the semi-finals in Orlando, FL prior to the start of the 52nd National Conference. The finalists took the stage again that same week to compete in the final round.
Jacob Keith Watson, the first prize winner, is a native of Wynne, Arkansas and a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University. In recent years, Jacob has performed roles in numerous mediums and genres. Some of his favorite roles include Frederic in Pirates of Penzance, Iago (U/S) in Othello, Feste in Twelfth Night, Corin in As You Like It, Horton the Elephant in Seussical the Musical, Albert in Bye Bye Birdie, Rodolfo in La Boheme, and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, . In 2012, Jacob won second place in the international Lotte Lenya Competition and was regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Upcoming engagements include the roles of Conte Almaviva (cover) in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Beppe in Pagliacci, and Duke (cover) in Rigoletto. In February of 2013, Jacob will be a featured musical theatre soloist at the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, Germany.
Billy Marshall, Jr., the second prize winner, was born and raised in Denver CO. Billy studied music theater at the University of Northern Colorado. After graduating Billy moved to NYC in 2009. Billy currently studies voice with Michael Ruckles in NYC. Credits include (off-Broadway) Theater for the New City; The Perfect Trio - Dan, Dog Mouth - Wilmer (Regional) Arundel Barn ME; Millie - Jimmy, Babes in Hollywood -Mickey Rooney (TV/Film) Kenny Connected- Kenny, Gossip Girl - Featured U5. Billy would like to thank Michael for his guidance and support, to Debbie and his family for their love and belief in his talents. Also a giant thank you to NATS for this wonderful opportunity and their dedication to the vocal instrument.
Linedy Genao, the third prize winner, is originally from Brooklyn, NY. She began singing at age 4 in her local church and her love of musical theater began to grow when she entered Hamden High School. There she received many academic and musical awards. She has been in many of the productions of the Hamden Mainstage Ensemble including Smitty in How to Succeed..., The Witch in Into the Woods, Lola in Damn Yankees, Irene Molloy in Hello Dolly!, and Esther in To Gillian on her 37th Birthday. Linedy also played Jessie in the Hamden Arts Council’s workshop production of When Push comes to Shove by Rachel Bloom and Michael Maricondi and Anita in the Whitney Players production of West Side Story. Linedy studies voice at the Sellati Studio under the tutelage of Robin Sellati and is entering her senior year at the University of Connecticut studying business administration. She hopes that her talent and education will lead her to the right path and maybe one day to the Broadway stage. With the support of her family and friends, she knows that anything is possible.
"The final round performances of all six finalists were outstanding and the audience reaction was enthusiastic” said Allen Henderson, Executive Director of NATS. “The first National Music Theater Competition was a rousing success with Jacob Watson giving a well-rounded performance that earned him first place honors. We look forward to the continued development of this competition as THE premier singing competition for music theater performers."
About NATS, INC. and the NATS National Conference
Founded in 1944, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Inc. (NATS) is the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world with more than 7,300 members in the United States, Canada, and over twenty-five other countries. In addition to sponsoring one of the most prestigious competitions for classical singers, NATS Artist Awards (NATSAA), NATS offers a variety of lifelong learning experiences to its members: workshops, intern programs, master classes, and conferences. NATS National Conferences offer opportunities for education and networking for voice and singing professionals.
"It's an exciting time to be a NATS member. While other professional associations are cutting back on member services for voice teachers, NATS keeps adding benefits and partnerships for members and students. I'm excited about the new music theater competition, the Orlando conference, and the partnership with Carnegie Hall - The Achievement Program - to mention a few. To borrow Joan Boytim'a phrase, I'm more 'nuts about NATS' than ever!" -Cynthia Vaughn, proud NATS member since 1984