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Two Levittown Teens Reach for the Stars

In Nassau County Talent Search Competition

Levittown teens Daniel Brenner and Samantha Jo Siclari will be singing their hearts out at the 2009 Reach for the Stars Teen Talent Search on Aug. 8 at Eisenhower Park.

The annual competition, presented by Nassau County, is for solo vocal talent only. Twenty-five finalists were chosen from over 65 applicants. Winners will receive trophies, gift certificates and cash prizes.
“We are proud to be celebrating the seventh year of the Reach for the Stars Teen Talent Search,” Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi. “This program showcases the best in young vocal talent in Nassau County.”
Daniel Brenner, 15, and a sophomore at Division Avenue High School is self-taught.
“I go on the computer on YouTube.com and look at Michael Jackson, Josh Groban and Declan Galbraith and practice,” he said. “I change the tone in my voice to match how it is.”
Brenner has competed in two similar competitions – LIPA’s Energy Star Idol and Division Idol. He won Division Idol with the song he’s singing at Reach for the Stars – You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban.
“What really got me into singing was the movie Oliver Twist,” he said. “The first time I saw it, I mimicked what they did, their British accents and the way that they sang. I was 7 or 8 and after my mom gave me some more songs to memorize and sing.”
A few years ago, Brenner performed while on a family cruise on a Carnival ship.
“The feeling was great and right then I knew I wanted to perform in front of people,” he added. “This past April I went on another cruise and played Ricky Martin in a show on the cruise.”
His mother, Cristina said Daniel “just has it in him.”
“It comes naturally,” she added.
Too young for American Idol try-out this year, Daniel said, “next year I’m definitely going to do it.”
Daniel is also involved in the school’s Drama Club and plays baseball for Levittown Central’s Dodgers team.
Samantha Jo Siclari, 13, and a student at Salk Middle School has been training since she was a second-grader. Her then-piano teacher informed parents, Theresa and Joseph of Samantha’s vocal ability.
“It makes me want to cry because she’s only 5-feet tall and this big voice comes out of such a small person,” Theresa Siclari said.
A 90-average student and Tri-M Honor Society member, Samantha also crams in chorus, orchestra and chamber choir into her school routine.
“Her whole life is music,” her mother said. “Her goal is to be a Broadway star or a singer/songwriter.”
Samantha writes her own music now, in addition to playing the piano, guitar and violin.
“Last year she had the lead in Bye, Bye Birdie at Salk,” her mother said.
An avid performer in the BroadHollow Theatre Company, Samantha has chosen to perform Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid.
Her parents said they are “proud that she has the ability to do this and she wants to do this.” They have sent letters to Nickelodeon and Disney to get some national recognition, but are hoping the Reach for the Stars competition will help get her foot in the door.
“To love what you do is the best,” Theresa said.
The competition will begin at 7:15 p.m., with a rain date of Tuesday, Aug. 11.
“We are particularly delighted that Kevin Covais of American Idol fame (and a winner in the first Reach for the Stars) will be among our judges,” said Cindy Gillen of the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation & Museums.
Other musical and entertainment professionals will serve on the panel as well. The finals show will be broadcast on Radio Disney.
The Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre is located near parking fields 6 and 6A in Eisenhower Park. Special accommodations are available for disabled patrons, including reserved parking, easily accessible restrooms, and a convenient reserved location on the hill. Assistive hearing devices are available for the hearing impaired. There is no formal seating at Lakeside Theatre, so concertgoers are urged to bring folding chairs. If weather conditions are doubtful, call 572-0355 after 6:30 p.m. for updated performance information.
Eisenhower Park, operated by the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums, is located in East Meadow, with entrances on Hempstead Turnpike and Merrick Avenue. For further information, contact the Parks Public Information Office at 572-0200 or visit www.nassaucountyny.gov.