On Friday, April 6, high school students participating in ShowStoppers, the Kimmel Center’s free after-school musical theater program, received a very special visitor. Michael J. Woodard, a current American Idol contestant and Philadelphia native, took a break from Hollywood to visit with the ShowStoppers.
This was a particularly meaningful homecoming for Michael, a ShowStopper alumnus, giving him the chance to thank Kimmel Center CEO, Anne Ewers, the Center’s donors, and his former teachers for their help on his path towards celebrity. Michael also shared some insights about his role as an American Idol favorite and performed with the students.
During his time as a ShowStopper, Michael graced the Kimmel stage in several performances, including "Lumiere" in Beauty and the Beast, "Dr. Dillamond" in Wicked, and "Inspector Javert" in Les Misérables.
In 2012, Michael was named the winner of The Hub’s MAJORS & MINORS Signing Competition, a reality television series produced by Brandy Norwood. During his time on The Hub, Michael received mentorship from the likes of Avril Lavigne, Colbie Caillat, will.i.am, Adam Lambert, and even American Idol alums, Jordan Sparks and Jennifer Hudson. Only 14-years-old at the time, Michael won a recording contract with Boardwalk Records and RCA records.
Michael’s past musical endeavors seem to have paid off for the now 20-year-old bowling alley attendant. Michael auditioned for American Idol in Los Angeles, where he moved after being accepted into the Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music. After a nervous start, followed by a friendly unwinding shake from judge Lionel Richie, Michael found his footing and wowed the judges with a soulful rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Make It Rain.”
Getting a pass from each of the three judges, Michael was lauded by Richie for “singing from [his] heart, [his] life.” Since getting that first golden ticket Michael has continued to impress. A recent performance of “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret brought Michael back to his theatrical roots and prompted an ecstatic scream and chair throw from judge Katy Perry.
With his fun and quirky personality and smooth, sweet vocals, it’s no surprise that Michael has made it to the Top 14 Performer’s spot and he seems to be loving every minute of his journey. Said judge Luke Bryan following Michael’s April 8 performance, “We love this human being right here. What I love about you is you let all your emotions show. We see your nerves. We see your excitement. You’re loving the ride, I feel like.”