NYMF Minute with the Nine “Broadway Idol” Finalists

NY Musical Theatre Fest   NYMF Minute with the Nine “Broadway Idol” Finalists Approximately 175 people attended the New York Musical Theatre Festival’s open auditions for “Broadway Idol” on Sept. 11. The lucky nine finalists include Shannon Amiry, Elizabeth DeRosa, Saum Eskandani, Jaclyn Huberman, Beth Kirkpatrick, Terry Lavell, Jamieson Lindenburg, Jeff McLean and Katie Thompson.

The first callback round will be Sept. 15 at New World Stages, as part of the NYMF @ Nite series of parties. “Broadway Idol starts” at 11 PM, and the celebrity judges this week include Marc Shaiman, Felicia Finley, and Kevin Cahoon. Seth Rudetsky will be hosting.

We took a few minutes to learn more about each contestant.

PLAYBILL.COM: Tell us a bit about yourself and where you come from.
Elizabeth DeRosa: I was born and grew up in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, about an hour and a half drive South of New York City. My parents are still in Jersey and I love that because I can visit them often. My mom and dad are the greatest people in my life. They supported me and encouraged me throughout my life, and continue to do so, in all the ventures I undertake. They are my biggest fans and I don’t think I could’ve pursued this career in the manner I have, without them. I knew I would live to sing and dance on the stage from the time I was in fourth grade. I did high school theatre and traveled Jersey in a girl’s doo-wop singing group called the Sensations. I graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a BFA in Musical Theater.
Jeff McLean: I grew up in a small country town nestled in the heart of the Rockies called Heber City. A one stop-light town, that is home to the Rocky Mountain Stampede Rodeo, buckwheat pancakes at Chicks Café, and a mean main street that begs to be dragged. I moved to Malibu California when I was a senior in high school and graduated from Malibu High. I made this huge transition to take voice lessons for Seth Riggs and to pursue my dream of becoming a singer. To say this move was a culture shock is an understatement. Since then I have been a huge fan of adventurous moves and following my dreams which is why I decided to come to New York a month ago…jobless…and basically penniless to begin a career on Broadway.
Jamieson Lindenburg: I am 21 years old, originally from Clearwater, Florida, and moved here three years ago for college. I attended a performing arts high school, where I met Michelle Dowdy—the current standby for Tracy Turnblad on Broadway and my roommate.
Jaclyn Huberman: Let's see...I was raised in Newton and in Natick, MA. I went to Natick High School, but my first musical ever was the fourth-grade show at Horace Mann Elementary School in Newton, MA. I played a young, Native American girl, and I sang a duet called "Why Must We Leave This Land We Love?" It was poignant and heart wrenching and slightly off-key. I went to Harvard University, where I majored in Psychology, but did lots of lots of shows. I met amazing people there and had a fantastic college experience, and then I moved to New York, where I sing, act, and tutor SATs. Yes, I'm a big dork, the sexy kind.
Shannon Amiry: I’m from a small town outside of Chicago called Barrington. When I was five years old I really wanted to go see Les Miserables when it came to town, my mom said I was too young, but if I learned all of the words she would take me. So I did and I’ve been hooked ever since. I went to public school and did theatre around Chicago, my mom and sister tagging along for the drive and for support.
Terry Lavell: I am originally from New Orleans, where I have been singing and dancing since the age of 5.
Katie Thompson: I'm originally from Utah, but I spent the last ten years or so in Los Angeles where I went to college for acting. After college I ended up getting more jobs as a singer, so that’s where most of my time has gone. I'm really excited to get back to my musical theater roots.
Saum Eskandani: I was born in Vancouver, Washington, though I really don’t remember it. My father is a professional poker player, so when I was 2 years old we left the trees and moved to Las Vegas. This doesn't mean I lived in a casino as many people always ask, it’s a big city. However, Dad is a pretty well respected player and so I did grow up going to the Strip two or three times a week; be it to watch him in a tournament, see a show, or just to eat at the buffets for free. Dad is also the reason I have my amazing name. My mom is American and she named my older sister Sara, but Dad was born and raised in Iran and my name "Saum" (like Psalm without the L), a character from Persian mythology.
Beth Kirkpatrick: I'm 25 years old, and originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, where I grew up in an all-American WASPy family that made me way too well adjusted to be an actor. I moved to New York in 2003 after I graduated from Northwestern University, where I studied vocal performance in the musical theater program. When I'm not singing and acting, I pay for food by babysitting and being a paralegal.

PLAYBILL.COM: What performance experience do you have?
Elizabeth DeRosa: After graduation I was the lead singer for Silversea Cruise Line. It is a small ship with only one female and one male singer. So, we sang everything, belt, soprano, jazz, Broadway, opera. It was the best thing I could’ve done to gain full life experience before really undertaking this whole New York theatre world. I traveled half the world in about eight months, from Central and South America, to the Mediterranean Sea, seeing the sights and singing most nights. Among the production shows we did on the ship, I also had a solo cabaret with a five-piece band…wow, what an experience.
Jeff McLean: I have been lucky to have an opportunity to perform throughout my life. My father is a writer-director-producer and has a little following in the inter-mountain west. He has written music for twenty-plus albums, directed several movies, and even had a show Off-Broadway last year for the blink of an eye, literally. I have been able to produce a few albums with him and sing and tour with him for the majority of my life. I was a wedding singer for a while but have spent most my professional life being a studio singer working on demos, commercials, back up vocals, etc. And have an album coming out in a few months that I recorded with my brother.
Jamieson Lindenburg: I have done a few workshops and smaller shows here in city, as well as college performances, but nothing major. Tons of regional back home in Florida.
Jaclyn Huberman: I played major roles in lots of musicals in college. I sang for the jazz band at Natick High School. I played Mabel in Inside Broadway's production of Pirates of Penzance here in New York. I've done lots of readings here in New York, and I have been lucky enough to sing lots of new music for some fantastic composers and lyricists in the BMI Workshop. I have done a few one-woman shows, and I am doing one in November which will be comprised entirely of new music by some really wonderful contemporary composers. Most recently, I understudied the fantastic Farah Alvin, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, and Courtney Balan in the off-Broadway production of I Love You Because.
Shannon Amiry: I have been in over 35 productions since I was very young. When I was at The Boston Conservatory I was in The Cherry Orchard and The Good Woman of Setzuan. Besides performing at TBC I’d hop on a bus over to Harvard University and audition for their seasons. I was blessed enough to play Dot/Marie in Sunday..., Meredith in Bat Boy, and Sventlana in Chess with the Harvard-Radcliffe Drama Club.
Terry Lavell: Started off in dance and always singing in church and choir. I have also been performing since elementary school in numerous plays, shows and concerts. I started doing theater and performing in such shows as, Dreamgirls,and Purlie, working basically all over the country, from performing in Orlando Fl, at Universal Studios, and traveling internationally with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, on the Radiance and Adventure of the Seas. I also had the amazing opportunity to perform Starlight Jazz in Tokyo Japan, as apart of their special event series at Tokyo Disney Resort. After one national tour, doing numerous regional shows, I have also danced in a modern dance company for about three years as well. I had the honor of joining the Las Vegas cast of Hairspray as Seaweed.
Katie Thompson: I'm a singer-songwriter, and have been performing my own stuff at clubs/bars/theaters- I play the piano. Theater-wise... I try to do one or two regional theater projects a year, as well as a West Coast tour of a show called The Forgotten Carols at Christmas time...this has been my pattern for the past 8 to 10 years until I moved to New York in January.
Saum Eskandani: The thing about Vegas is, there was really no professional theatre. There are a few shows on the Strip now but when I was growing up, there were really only three or four good companies and they were all community theatre. So until I left for college I had really only experienced High School and a couple community theatre shows. This summer I graduated from The Boston Conservatory with my degree in musical theatre. I got to do a lot of shows there, but I was a young character actor in college, which meant that I got to play a lot of old men and usually got the parts that didn't have any songs. The only big gig I've ever really landed was as a soloist with The Boston Pops, which was an amazing experience: one night, one song, and lots of free food! “Broadway Idol” will be the first time I've been on stage in the City and hopefully not the last.
Beth Kirkpatrick: After moving to New York I spent a year and a half touring Asia as the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music. I've worked professionally in Montreal, Ohio, and New York, and done several readings through NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. I've dabbled in the world of opera, been featured on recordings, and spontaneously erupt into interpretive dance at every opportunity. PLAYBILL.COM: What is your favorite play or musical?
Elizabeth DeRosa: The first musical I ever saw and which gave me an even more intense passion to pursue musical theatre, was Les Miserables. But I would have to say that my favorite musical is My Fair Lady. I think it is a flawless masterpiece, with music, characters, and scenes that simply soar.
Jeff McLean: My favorite musical to this day is Les Miserables. It was the first musical I ever saw. I remember coming to New York City for the first time when I was ten. My aunt bought us tickets to see Les Miz and I sat on the front row of the mezzanine hypnotized from beginning to end. It was then that I decided I wanted to perform on Broadway.
Jamieson Lindenburg: That's a tough question. The first CD I ever bought with my own money was The Life. I would do "The Oldest Profession" in my room over and over. I have also always had a love for Parade. Such a beautiful show.
Jaclyn Huberman: Ruthless!
Shannon Amiry: Les Miserables
Katie Thompson: Big River. It was the first play I was in that had soul. I remember watching the male lead, which we had to contract out from Chicago because there are no black people in Utah, and live every moment, every note, with him. Even now when I sing stuff from the musical I always want to sing the part of Jim.
Saum Eskandani: Too many to pick. But I will say the most moving shows I have ever seen were the Broadway revivals of Cabaret and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. They both left me sitting in the theatre with my brain buzzing, and that, in my opinion, is good theatre.
Beth Kirkpatrick: It's tough to pick a favorite, but Les Miz was the first show I ever saw on Broadway. It was the loudest, most beautiful thing I'd ever heard, and I wanted to push Young Cosette off the stage and take her place. It will always have a special place in my heart.