Sarah Shaiman appeared on stage in a sparkling pink dress flowing down to her ankles, sporting long lashes reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour. The Westbury resident shined with her style and strong vibrato while singing “Happy Days are Here Again” as a slow ballad, a song famously performed by Barbra Streisand.
The 17-year-old W. Tresper Clarke High School graduate’s performance won the 10th annual Nassau County Reach for the Stars Teen Talent Competition at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Monday night.
As she was performing, her grandmother, Ina Shaiman, looked up at the sky to see a star, and thought of Shaiman’s grandfather, Herman Shaiman, who passed away just two days earlier at the age of 82.
“I looked up at the sky and I thought, ‘If you’re here, you’re very proud of her,’” said Ina Shaiman, 85, of Jamaica, Queens. “And he would have been ecstatic.”
About 300 people showed up at the park’s Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre to check out the vocal performances of 18 finalists. Second place went to 13-year-old Mary Kate Patsky of Garden City. Like Shaiman, Patsky found inspiration from a Streisand classic. With hot pink flowers in her hair, she sang “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from the musical “Funny Girl.”
Nicholas Tangorra, 14, of Bethpage finished third. Young females offered cries as if Justin Bieber himself appeared on the stage during Tangorra’s rendition of “Glad You Came” by The Wanted.
Past participants in the competition have gone on to earn “American Idol” fame, including Kevin Covais and Robbie Rosen. Among the judges was Jean Prysock, widow of late American jazz singer Arthur Prysock.
“I don’t like them to think that because they did not win, they cannot go further,” Prysock, 85, said of the group. “They can go further, it just means go harder.”
Shaiman won the title in her third attempt. Among the prizes is a chance to sing the national anthem at a New York Islanders game. She plans to pursue her dream of performing on Broadway by attending SUNY Cortland in the fall and participating in the theater program.
“When I was little I thought about trying out for 'American Idol' once I turned 16,” Shaiman said. “But I think I'm too Broadway for the show.“
Above: Sarah Shaiman, center, won first place at the Nassau County Reach for the Stars Teen Talent Competition at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. With her are finalists Didi Peng, left, 18, and Samantha Schick, 17. (July 30, 2012)
Nassau County Reach for the Stars Teen Talent Competition finalists:
Taylor Brooks, 15, of Manhasset
Alexa Ford, 14, of Lynbrook
Melissa Goldstein, 17, of Roslyn Heights
Rafael Hakimian, 15, of Great Neck
Cassidy Heide, 18, of Oceanside
Ashley Kaufman, 17, of Wantagh
Quinn Lysaght, 14, of Rockville Centre
Samantha Matzerath, 13, of West Massapequa
Kara McNelis, 16, of Garden City
Matt Mowery, 14, of Long Beach
Michael Multer, 13, of Merrick
Didi Peng, 18, of Glen Cove
Mary Kate Patsky, 13, of Garden City
Justine Re, 18, of Wantagh
Samantha Schick, 17, of East Meadow
Sarah Shaiman, 17, of Westbury
Elizabeth Stumpel, 19, of Wantagh
Nicholas Tangorra, 14, of Bethpage