The 200 children who auditioned in New York to sing at the 2011 U.S. Open included plenty of seasoned veterans.
Some had sung in previous years at the national tennis tournament, others had auditioned last year or the year before, and a few talented singers had even toured on Broadway.
Among them was 11-year-old Madeline McNichols from Whitefish Bay, who came ready to impress the three celebrity judges and earn her place among 13 other young singers performing in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the Open.
“I was the first person in line and the first person to go on the stage,” McNichols said. “My body was half nerves, half excitement… I just sang, and I felt that I did the best that I could, and I did great.”
The judges agreed with McNichols, awarding her one of the 14 spots. She will sing an a cappella version of “America the Beautiful” at the U.S. Open on Friday.
“When we heard that I got it, we were jumping up and down,” McNichols said. “My mom was so happy and so excited for me and so proud.”
Madeline’s mother, Patty McNichols, chaperoned Madeline at the audition and will accompany her to New York with her father, Sean McNichols. The trip, which may include some sightseeing, came about through the family grapevine as well.
“We had heard about (the audition) from Madeline’s grandmother… and then we researched it online,” Patty McNichols said. “It was mostly kids from New York and New Jersey… who do a lot of auditions for Broadway plays.”
Of the winners, Madeline McNichols was the only Midwesterner. The other thirteen children all came from states along the Eastern Seaboard, near where the U.S. Open is held.
The Open has been recruiting singers under the age of 12 since 2007, often with a panel of celebrity judges. Madeline McNichols sang in front of Josh Henderson, from TV shows “90210” and “Desperate Housewives”; Tinsel Korey, from the Twilight film series, and Kimberly Locke, a contestant on Season 2 of American Idol. The fifth annual casting call was held in the Apollo Theater.
Although the setting and audience were more glamorous than she’s used to, Madeline McNichols is no stranger to singing. She started at age 5 with the Milwaukee Children’s Choir, and played Annie in the Menomonee Falls Patio Players’ production of Annie last May. A student at the University School of Milwaukee, McNichols has also been studying the violin since she was 6, and recently took up the piano as well.