LA's NEXT GREAT STAGE STAR 2014 Is Jennifer Kranz; Interviews with the Winners!

On Sunday, February 16 LA's Next Great Stage Star 2014 came to an exciting conclusion at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal. After an amazing two-hour program in which the 20 contestants gave 150% to their uptempo songs from Broadway shows, fourteen contestants were eliminated and the top six* finalists selected. After a brief intermission, each of the six then proceeded to perform a second number after which the distinguished panel of 18 judges made the final decision. Musical director par excellence James Lent accompanied at the piano throughout the three hour show.

*On an interesting note this year, after the usual five finalists were initially announced, there was another announcement that the judges decided to add a sixth place contestant, which is a legal move within the rules of the competition. Added to five female finalists was Travis Leland. So, 2014 was extra special with 6 winning contestants.

After another round of singing, those chosen were: in sixth place, Kimberly Hessler; fifth place, Jade Johnson; fourth place, Daniella Painton; third place, Adrienne Visnic: second place, Travis Leland and LA's Next Great Stage Star 2014, winner Jennifer Kranz.

(left to right: winner Jennifer Kranz with co-executive producer Barbara Van Orden)

(left to right: Michael Sterling, James Lent, Barbara Van Orden and winners: Jennifer Kranz, Travis Leland, Adrienne Visnic, Daniella Painton, Jade Johnson, Kimberly Hessler)

Some of the highlights of the first round were: Kimberly Hessler's "He Touched Me" from Drat the Cat, Brandon Hynum's "Love Can't Happen", Amanda Knight's very funny "Gorgeous", Daniella Painton's "Get Out and Stay Out" from 9 to 5 The Musical, Adrienne Visnic's "There Won't Be Trumpets" from Anyone Can Whistle, and Sevan Dekmezian's hilarious "15 Pounds Away From My Love".

In the second round the six finalists competed with: "Infinite Joy" from Elegies, performed by Kimberly Hessler; "I'm Here" from The Color Purple sung by Jade Johnson; "The Wizard and I" from Wicked sung by Daniella Painton; "How Glory Goes" from Floyd Collins performed by Travis Leland; "The Story Goes On" from Baby sung by Adrienne Visnic and "So Much Better" essayed by Jennifer Kranz. All were on equal footing at the time and gave it their very best shot.

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Don Grigware Don Grigware is an Ovation nominated actor and writer whose contributions to theatre through the years have included 6 years as theatre editor of NoHoLA, a contributor to LA Stage Magazine and currently on his own website:

Don hails from Holyoke, Massachusetts and holds two Masters Degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Education and Bilingual Studies. He is a teacher of foreign language and ESL.

Don is in his fifth year with BWW, currently serving as Senior Editor of the Los Angeles Page.

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