“I was shivering in my metaphorical boots before stepping out onto that stage to hit my mark,” Christina Cinnamo told the Herald as she reflected on her prize-winning performance at the Nassau County Reach for the Stars Teen Talent Contest. Cinnamo, of Franklin Square, sang “The Lady is a Tramp” at the competition, at Eisenhower Park’s Lakeside Theatre on July 15, and earned second place out of 21 finalists. Kristen Murphy, of North Bellmore, won top honors, and Alexa Ford, of Lynbrook, placed third.
Cinnamo, 18, was the oldest contestant to take part in the contest, for which 63 teenagers auditioned. She graduated from Valley Stream North High School in June, and plans to major in music education at Hofstra University in the fall. Despite what many would consider an age advantage, she said that stage fright, at least in her case, does not diminish with age. The fact that the contest demanded a challenging “one and done” performance, with a single opportunity to impress the judges, meant that there was a significant level of anxiety.
“The most challenging part of the contest was willing myself to step onstage despite my reservations and fears about what may come from my throat,” Cinnamo said. “Live performances are a bit of a risk [because] you get one shot and one shot only.”
But she had to fight those fears, she said, and knowing that her family, friends and voice teacher were in the crowd helped. “I wouldn’t chicken out regardless of how badly I wanted to,” she said. “They were there to see a performance and I had to deliver, regardless of the knots in my stomach and the hesitancy in my mind.”
Cinnamo won a trophy, gift cards to local restaurants and vouchers to Nassau County parks. However, the experience itself — developing a camaraderie with fellow contestants even in their short time together, and performing in front of a live crowd at a venue unlike anywhere else she has performed — is something she said she will remember forever.
“It was remarkable how encouraging and supportive all the contestants were of one another,” Cinnamo said. “I had a great time, and I’m incredibly appreciative of such a wonderful opportunity and experience.”