Students shined on stage when they competed in the Bridgewater Sing-Off

Students shined on stage when they competed in the Bridgewater Sing-Off

A gifted collection of vocalists took center stage when the 11th Annual Bridgewater Sing-Off was performed at Bridgewater-Raritan High School on Friday, March 22.

The high school’s auditorium served as the venue when this highly regarded singing competition was held to not only showcase and feature the talents of high school singers but to raise funds to support the Kimberley A. Nelson Foundation.

The Kimberly A. Nelson Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non profit corporation established in 2010 to honor the memory of Kim Nelson, a beloved member of the Class of 2010 at Bridgewater-Raritan High School who passed away in September 2009. Nothing gave Kim greater enjoyment than performing on stage, whether in Chamber Choir, musical theater or in her church, according to a message on the website.

The website also stated that in celebration of that joy and in recognition of Kim's academic accomplishments the mission of the Foundation is to provide an annual scholarship to a Bridgewater-Raritan High School senior who has been active in choir and musical theater as well as having demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and community service. 

The Kimberley A. Foundation also supports, through grants, those educational initiatives which promote and encourage participation in vocal performance and musical theater.
On the evening of March 23, a field of 11 contestants–each a talented singer—performed  before an appreciated audience.

 And the student whose voice stood out above the rest was Alaina Gust. 

Her splendid rendition of the song “Journey to the Past” by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty  resulted in her first-place finish among her fellow Bridgewater-Raritan students. 

Alaina, a senior, emerged from a skilled group that featured the runner-up, senior Cole Januzzi, and the third-place finisher, senior Indiana Lu. 

Those top three finishers have shined on stage throughout their careers at Bridgewater-Raritan High School with their performances in various theater productions.

Along with the elite status as the champion of the Sing-Off, the winner—Alaina—received a prize of $500. A total of  $300 was granted to the runner-up, Cole, while Indiana received $200 for placing third.

Here is a summary and the background of each of the top three finishers in the Sing-Off. 

First place: Alaina Gust
Song: “Journey to the Past” Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty
Biography from program: Alaina Gust is a senior at BRHS, and is excited to be participating in her first Sing-Off! She attends SCVTHS part-time as a Vocal Major in their Honors Theater Arts Program. She has performed in nearly 40 productions across several different companies. Most recently she was part of the Thespian Honor Society’s fall production of Godspell. She has also enjoyed being part of Paper Mill Playhouse’s Conservatory and New Voices Concert the past four years. She is currently navigating her college selection process, where she plans to continue her education in theater arts, majoring in musical theater.

Second place: Cole Januzzi
Song: “River” Joni Mitchell
Cole Januzzi is a senior at BRHS and is so excited to be competing in the 2024 Sing-Off! He has been singing and performing for almost 10 years. He had the chance to perform on Broadway in Fun Home when he was 10 and can’t wait to share his voice with the audience! He would like to give a huge thank you to all his family and friends who have constantly supported him along his musical journey, and would like to wish the best of luck to all of the other contestants!
Third place: Indiana Lu
Song: “Baby I'm Yours” Van McCoy
Biography from program: Indiana Lu is a senior at BRHS and is delighted to be part of the 2024 Sing-Off! Indiana is also president of the BRHS Thespian Honor Society and has played numerous roles, onstage and off, in BRHS productions. In college, Indiana hopes to pursue a degree in molecular biology and biotechnology. She is so grateful for her friends, family, and mentors, including Mr. (Tom) and Mrs. (Teresa) Gunning (Directors of the Bridgewater-Raritan High School Theater Arts program with Heather Day)  for their continual support and for inspiring her everyday. Thanks for coming and enjoy the show!

The evening would not have been as successful as it was without a premier collection of people in the entertainment and education fields. 

Jack McManus, once a performer in the Sing-Off and a scholarship winner in 2017, served as the MC while Dr. John Wilson, the Choral Director at Bridgewater-Raritan High School, was the Accompanist.

The panel of judges were Jaime Bartolett, a Broadway producer and a graduate of Bridgewater-Raritan High School, Chuck Schneider, a voice teacher and classical singer, and Matthew Mucha, a Broadway actor.

One of the key coordinators of the show was Kim Cook, who  is a member of the Kimberley A. Nelson Foundation Committee and is a 3rd Grade Teacher at the John F. Kennedy Primary School in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District.

Another valuable member of the event was Sharon Lawton, who is on the Board of Trustees for the Kimberley A. Nelson Foundation. 
She provided her take on this wonderful evening.

"Our MC, Jack McManus, kept the event high energy from the welcome to the finale and awarding of prizes. The judges were impressed with the quality of the talent at Bridgewater-Raritan High School,” Ms. Lawton said. “They were very complimentary to the participants, but also gave good suggestions for improvement. It felt like we have finally recovered from COVID years!"

Here is the complete program for the Sing-Off.


Bridgewater Sing-Off 2024 Program