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Pasco Tribune

Dade City girl has 'star quality'

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 09:28 PM
DADE CITY -

Shelby Martin was announced as the winner in her age group at the Pasco County Fair Showcase of Talent on Monday.

It wasn't the first time that announcement has been made. Martin, 18, of Dade City, has won seven of the past eight years at the annual talent competition.

Martin began performing at the showcase in 2004 singing "Tomorrow" from the play "Annie." That year she took third place in her age group. She was a finalist in 2005.

For the next five years, Martin won her age group or the grand champion trophy with her performances as the Scarecrow from "Wizard of Oz," Cruella De Vil, an Egyptian (as in "Walk Like An Egyptian"), McCavity from "Cats" and Ursula from "The Little Mermaid."

In 2011, Martin's streak was broken by her good friend Jordan Evans, and she took second place, but in 2012, she was back in first singing "I Put a Spell on You" from the movie "Hocus Pocus."

Now her streak of showcase wins is over, at least for now.

Martin will leave for Florida State University in the fall. She graduated from Pasco High School in December. In April, she will receive her associate's degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College.

She is hoping to be accepted in the musical theater program at FSU. Only eight of 240 students auditioning for the program will be accepted. She has her fingers crossed.

"If that doesn't work out, I'm looking into communications — broadcasting and TV/radio work. It's still up my alley, just a little different," she said.

In any case, she won't give up her dream to perform in New York, especially on Broadway.

Martin is the daughter of Bobby and Terri Martin of Dade City. She is a Dade City girl who like a thoroughly modern Millie has yearned to get to New York with a passion.

She has visited several times over the years. In 2007-09, she attended Camp Broadway in New York, which trains youngsters in the theater, and rehearsed to be a part of the first performing unit of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"Camp Broadway was my first time in New York City," she said. "When we got to the city, I just fell in love," she said.

Martin says she is hooked, and whether it's in musical theater or broadcasting, she wants to go back.

Through her involvement with Blackwood Studios and Alison Graham's Showstoppers, Martin has performed at almost all the local festivals, as well as at Disney World and throughout Europe on a Blackwood Studios dance tour. She has also done stage productions with Arts In Motion Community Youth Theater, playing the title roles of Little Orphan Annie in "Annie" in 2004 and Peter Pan in "Peter Pan, The Musical" in 2008.

Martin said she may do some performing when she comes back to visit, but her sights are set on a larger stage.

"I'm going to miss it," she said, "but I think I'm ready to move onto bigger things — moving on to the next level. I'm pretty excited."

Can she make it on Broadway? The local consensus is yes.

Sally Blackwood, founder of Blackwood Studios, has taught Martin dance for 14 years.

"She's got a personality about her and her dancing is good, her singing is good and her acting is good," Blackwood said. "When you put it all together, it's very star quality. It's a total package. It depends on whether she's tough enough. It's very, very competitive."

Martin has been taking voice lessons from Alison Graham, director of the Showstoppers, for about 10 years. Graham also acknowledges that the competition is fierce, but thinks that Martin has the key ingredients.

"She definitely has the drive and the talent," Graham said. "She's got everything that it takes. She's got the talent, the dance and the voice, and she definitely has the drive and the support system. She's got it all; she's got every piece of the puzzle."

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