Bristol's Lexi Lanni wins regional talent contest
Without a second thought, Lexi Lanni knew immediately what she aspires to be when she grows up.
"My dream is to play Christine Daae on Broadway," piped the 10-year-old Colt Andrews Elementary School student.
Her eyes dazzled as she talked excitedly about her fictitious role model from The Phantom of the Opera.
"I just fell in love with the songs," she said.
It was one of those songs composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber that earned Lexi the top nod at New England's Got Talent last Saturday. She came in first place in the contest, now in its second year, hosted by the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket.
"She's something else, that little girl," said Lisa Surrette, education director at the theater. "She was absolutely amazing. She wowed the crowd."
Performing in front of 600 audience members, Lexi beat out more than 85 acts, and contestants as old as their mid 40s, for the title. She won $500, and an invitation to be the star of the Stadium Theatre's Christmas Spectacular at the end of November.
"She was really nervous when they were announcing the winners," said mom Patricia Lanni. "There was one girl who she thought was really good, and when she was announced as second place, Lexi thought for sure she didn't make it."
But then the judges called Lexi's name.
"She bounced right up and ran to the stage," Patricia said.
This is the first major accomplishment in Lexi's singing career, having started professional voice lessons about a year ago. She already sings with her school's chorus and chorus-select, and also sings with the R.I. Children's Chorus.
"At first we wondered where her (ability to sing) came from," laughed Patricia. "Because none of us can sing."
She attributes her daughter's talent to Lexi's great-great-grandmother who performed in Opera houses jn New York decades ago.
For the most part, Lexi said she taught herself to sing. Over the past year, with instruction, her voice has improved by leaps and bounds, she said.
"I like singing with my dad while he plays the violin," she said. "It was him who got me into the Phantom of the Opera."
Right now, she's perfecting "Ave Maria," a special song for her dad.