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Aventura Marketing Council celebrates success of 3rd annual YOUNG STARS SHOWCASE

young star showcase

Yessiree! Those stars were shining on Sunday, December 2nd at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center (AACC) when ten amazingly talented young singers took the stage! The youngsters, ranging in age from 9 to 18 years old, had been rehearsing with Creative Director Ran Oz (CooLAM Productions) for months and now were ready to sing their hearts out for the full-house audience. Kudos to Ran….the talent of a superstar…the patience of a saint! Year after year, he devotes hundreds of hours to this project to ensure a most professional production.

Over 300 people gathered to not only enjoy a superb evening of music, but to honor The Hon. Billy and Sandra Joel as they were presented with the first Aventura Marketing Council ‘Pay It Forward’ award for their lifetime of helping others.

With the full support of AACC General Manager Steve Clark ; Jeff Kiltie, Event Services Manager; Kerry McCloskey, Technical Director and Lacy Carter, Box Office Manger, we knew our focus only had to be on the singers and dancers and flow of the entire evening.

Some of the young singers were accompanied by CooLAM Dance choreographer Namona Lewin and her dancers: Gabriela Gomez, Charlie Golphin II and Kfir Levy, and some were accompanied by Rainbow Circus Productions aerialists: Stephanie Chisholm, Lindsey Lederer and Byamba.

The young singers who graced the AACC stage this year were:

9 year-old Biana Pinchuk… a tiny little girl whose operatic voice simply bowled over the audience as she sang “Dream With Me” accompanied by two “angel” stiltwalkers, Stephanie and Lindsey, from Rainbow Circus Productions

11 year-old Jonah Warhaft…a veritable ‘ball of fire’ who mastered “This Is a Man’s World”

12 year-old Cameron Wheeler…..with her amazing talent, she nailed two Whitney Houston songs, “I Have Nothing” and ‘I Will Always Love You”

13 year-old Donna Alima……singing a tribute to late Donna Summer with a perfect “Last Dance”

13 year-old C. J. Fam……singing like the pro that she is (already signed by Disney), CJ belted out a Celine Dion’s song ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” accompanied by breath-taking aerialists, Rainbow’s Stephanie and Lindsey

16 year-old Zhia Henderson….who sang “Unbreak My Heart” with tremendous passion

17 year-old Claudia Sanchez…who did a ‘reverse role” and did a great job with “When A Man Loves a Woman”

17 year-old Valerie Vargas…..channeling Whitney (and Whitney would have been proud!) in ‘I Wanna Run To You”

18 year-old Nicole Bequer…..using her operatic skills, she sang a gorgeous duet “The Prayer” with Javier Castellanos, accompanied by Rainbow’s ribbon dancer, Byamba

18 year-old Javier Castellanos…surprised the heck out of everyone…small, thin…but when he sang “ Because We Believe”, we thought we were listening to Andrea Bocelli. Rainbow’s Elisa Silverstein gracefully performed on the trapeze to the music.


AMC Chairman Cliff Schulman (Weiss Serota Helfman) served as Chair of this incredible event for the third year, and co-emceed with acclaimed entertainer Nicole Henry a/k/a “pop soul superwoman”. The evening started out with all the young singers giving the Joels a surprise serenade of “You’re The Inspiration”, followed by the presentation of a huge collage of photos of them ‘giving back’ to so many different causes through the years. But you all know that such a major production needs some major sponsors…and we were so fortunate to have two: AT&T and Northwestern Mutual/Laser Financial Group.

Additional sponsors, known as “Friends of the Young Stars” were: Lauren and Cliff Schulman; Jaqui and Fernando Levy Hara/Veronika and Stephan Gietl; Linda and Bob Hollander; Bill and Carole Landa; Alex and Monique Halberstein; Bill Mathisen, KW PROPERTY MANAGEMENT & CONSULTING; Dr. Malcolm Dorman; Sandra and the Hon. Billy Joel; Arlene and the Hon. Bob Diamond; Ken Bernstein and Family; Stephanie, Jules and Eddie Trump; Gary Pyott, The Continental Group; Ben , 3yr. old son of Izabella and Yoav Cohen; Ron Book and Elaine and Howard Adler.

Proceeds from this event benefited the AMC Education Foundation, which supports the many educational programs that the AMC sponsors throughout the year, including the award-winning Student Connection program for at-risk students from our ten Dade Partner schools.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening came when Nicole Bequer was called to the stage…only to be greeted by her boyfriend, Richard, dressed in his Army fatigues, who dropped to his knees to propose…with Nicole’s Mom’s blessings of course! The answer was a tearful “Yes!” as the audience stood up and cheered.

And if all of this weren’t enough, each young singer was presented a beautiful framed piece of animation artwork from Gloria and Herb Barker from Barker Animation Art Gallery.

The evening ended with a VIP Reception in the beautiful lobby of the AACC….gourmet chocolates and incredible sweets were presented by Turnberry Isle Miami, Brio Tuscan Grille, Mo’s Bagels & Deli, Blue Bell Ice Cream and Costco Wholesale…a great time for the audience to personally meet the young singers and their families!

Yes….this year’s showcase was simply spectacular…from the gorgeous Nicole Henry introducing each outstanding singer to the magnificent stage décor to the VIP Reception to end a perfect evening.

And yes…we are already planning our 4th year…..set for Sunday, December 8th at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center!