“I told the judges this was going to be a hard year,” said Angela Luftig, The Wheatley School’s chorus and orchestra teacher and Tri-M advisor. Tri-M holds the annual Wheatley Idol every November. This year, 10 lucky ladies were chosen to perform in front of a nearly sold-out crowd composed of students from all schools within the district, family, faculty and even community members. Unlike previous years, the 11th Wheatley Idol had a few interesting twists that made the night different.
The night started off with a short video of me (Josh Dinetz) trying to find another cohost. After a few sample runs, I finally was paired with longtime friend and colleague, Lauren Levine, a junior. After a few announcements, it was time to meet the wonderful judges. First we had “The Queen from before the Han Dynasty,” Cynthia Schwartz, from the Social Studies department. Then we had “the man, the legend,” Mr. Schawlm of the Science department. Finally, the last judge was “our favorite Wheatley Theater Company Director,” Colin McKenna of the English Department. This trio made an excellent group of judges who were able to give the fantastic vocalists great reviews and comments.
The first performer of the night was Kimmy Esquilin who performed “Stay” by Rihanna while playing guitar. Then was Ariana Arralde who sang Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love.” Laura D’Angelo then accompanied, with a guitar, Julia Mongelluzzo who sang “Put Your Records On,” originally recorded by Corinne Bailey Rae. Following was Sarah Amselem, a newcomer to Wheatley. She sang “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri. Next, was Tessa Karikas on the piano as she sang Ruth B’s “Lost Boy.”
Ally Levy was again accompanied by Laura D’Angelo on the guitar as she sang “Should’ve Been Us” made famous by Tori Kelly. Senior Jessie Cao sang Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You.” Michaela Balboni sang “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men. The talented Justin Vega played the piano. Michelle Porter sang “Stars” by Grace Potter. Amanda Kim accompanied her on the guitar. Finally, Morgan Misk, returning for her fourth year sang “Mama Who Bore Me” from the hit Broadway musical, Spring Awakening.
The judges had a challenging decision to make. Which three of these 10 talented girls would advance to round two? After a lengthy intermission and a tribute to former Wheatley Idol winner, Kevin Oh, who is currently in the top three on SuperstarK7, Korea’s version of American Idol, the judges came back with a decision. The top three were returning sophomore Michaela Balboni, the rookie breakthrough Julia Mongelluzzo and the favorite, Morgan Misk.
Morgan Misk sang the widely acclaimed “Make You Feel My Love” by British sensation Adele. Following her was Julia Mongelluzzo who sang Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” Accompanying her again was Laura D’Angelo. Ending the second round, Michaela Balboni, with Justin Vega on the piano, sang “A Thousand Years,” originally sung by Christina Perri. While the votes were being counted, last year’s Wheatley Idol winner, Alex Boubour, sang. Like everything that Boubour does, the piece was absolutely stunning, leaving the audience on their feet chanting.
Justin Vega then had the opportunity to display the much-loved Wheatley Idol music video. Each year, a number of students and faculty members take part in the making of this music video. This year, the song was “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. Right before the winner was announced, thank yous and a very special message were made. Over the summer, Wheatley’s Tri-M (Modern Music Masters) Honor Society was awarded Chapter of the Year from Tri-M, an international organization with more than 1,700 chapters.
Finally, it was time to announce the winner. Would it be the favorite, Morgan Misk? It could possibly be the rookie, Julia Mongelluzzo? Or maybe it would be the returning Michaela Balboni? The room was silent for the first time that night. You could hear a pin drop. The winner of the 11th Wheatley Idol 2015 was…Julia Mongelluzzo! The room roared. Mongelluzzo and D’Angelo both walked on stage with a smile ear to ear. Being awarded with flowers, Mongelluzzo couldn’t thank the crowd enough. She then closed the night by singing “Something,” the legendary Beatles song, written by George Harrison.