USC Student Jennifer Kranz Wins LA's NEXT GREAT STAGE STAR 2014
Jennifer Kranz, a senior at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles majoring in Theatre and minoring in Musical Theatre, emerged victorious Sunday, February 16th as LA's Next Great Stage Star® 2014 produced and presented by Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal, the most critically acclaimed concert supper club in the greater Los Angeles area.
Following six weeks of intense competition conducted before live audiences who were also part of the voting process and subject to receiving complimentary opening night tickets to four different touring Broadway musicals remaining in the Hollywood Pantages Theatre's 2013/2014 season (www.hollywoodpantages.com), the blonde, blue-eyed Jennifer Kranz began performing when she was 8 years old and has since studied with John Rubenstein, Gerogia Stitt and others at USC. Not only did she claim the coveted title of LA's Next Great Stage Star® 2014, but was awarded a cash prize of $1000; an upcoming paid headlining concert engagement at Sterling's Upstairs; a vocal demo recording session from Tom Griep's Audition Trax (www.auditiontrax.com); a photo session with Isaac James Creative (www.isaacjamescreative.com); and is already in the process of scheduling meetings to be signed and represented by one of the lucrative competition's Equity Agent/Judges as the first step toward a professional career in musical theatre, television and film.
Additionally, the young Ms. Kranz will receive audition opportunities from such major, regional producing entities as Cabrillo Music Theatre which presents at the Fred Kavli Theatre in the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks, CA; Julia Flores Casting, which represents the Pasadena Playhouse, Boston Court Theatre and McCoy/Rigby Entertainment at the La Mirada Performing Arts Center; and other similar regional auditions.
Upon her return to Sterling's later this year with her own concert, she will also receive an overnight stay in a Luxury VIP Suite and dining for two at the iconic Sheraton Universal Hotel. Known as the "Hotel of the Stars" for 45 years, the Sheraton is nestled between the Hollywood Hills and the San Fernando Valley and overlooks the world renowned Universal Studios. www.sheratonuniversal.com. Ms. Kranz has also been invited by Stage Star judge Bruce Kimmel to be featured in an upcoming Kritzerland Records live stage event during 2014 at Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal. Kimmel's Kritzerland is noted for its recordings and promotion of Broadway musicals, Broadway composers and performers, and the music of the Great American Songbook.
Now in its 8th consecutive year as the only musical theatre competition of its kind, LA's Next Great Stage Star® 2014 also shined its spotlight on Travis Leland who placed 2nd and was the first ever "saved" contestant by the Finale's judging panel of eighteen theatre professionals. A former student at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy/Los Angeles; and UCLA's Theatre, Film, and Television Class of 2012, Leland was joined by top ranking finalists Adrienne Visnic (3rd Place), Daniella Painton (4th Place), Jade Johnson (5th) and Kimberly Hessler (6th). All twenty contestants ranged in age between 18 and 28.
LA's Next Great Stage Star® 2014 has been Executive Produced by Michael Sterling of Michael Sterling & Associates (www.msapr.net) in Los Angeles since 2007 and was created by Michael Sterling and Tony Monsour. Preceded by serving as Producer of LA's Next Great Stage Star® since 2012, author, speaker, performer, business woman and arts philanthropist, Barbara Van Orden, joined Sterling this year as Co-Executive Producer (www.barbaravanorden.com).
The late multi-award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch was saluted by the competition this year in a retrospective produced and created by Michael Sterling and videographer Anthony "A.J." Hernandez, followed by a live performance of "What I Did for Love" sung by all 20 contestants. One of Hamlisch's best known compositions, the song (a musical theatre anthem) was written for Michael Bennett's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical A Chorus Line.
Writer/Performer Peter Welkin was assigned duties as Associate Producer for his second year; with James Lent returning as Musical Director for his fifth consecutive year. Bryan Blaskie assumed responsibilities as Associate Musical Director for his first year; and Jackie Evans rounded out the creative as Choreographer for her second year.
Selected through an audition process held in mid-December 2013 at LA's prestigious Van Nuys, CA-based Performing Arts Center which provides top training programs in the arts, and state-of-the-art rehearsal rental facilities (www.performingartscenter.net), Stage Star 2014 competitors also included: Jessica Apperson, Alexandra Arthur, Michael Byrne, Matthew Campanella, Cy Creamer, Sevan Dekmezian, Jordan Michelle DeLeon, Katrice Gavino, Brandon Hynum, Amanda Knight, Kathleen Porter, Cameron Sczempka, Katherine Tracy, and Jared Andrew Warren.
2014 Stage Star Judges included: Musical Theatre & Theatrical Casting Directors: Artios Award Winner Michael Donovan (Michael Donovan Casting); Artios Award Winner Peter Matyas (Peter Matyas Productions); Jami Rudofsky (Jami Rudofsky Casting and Resident Casting Director/Celebration Theatre); Michael Serna (Casting for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts); and Mark Simon (Casting for the Center Theatre Group at the Los Angeles Music Center).
Musical Theatre Producers, Writers, Directors & Choreographers: Cate Caplin (Choregrapher/Director of over 200 productions in Los Angeles; the Hollywood Bowl, Edinburgh Arts Festival, JFK Center for the Performing Arts, and the Metropolitan Opera House). T.J. Dawson and Daniel Dawson/Producers/3D Theatricals at Plummer Auditorium/Fullerton, CA; and the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center/Redondo Beach, CA; Joshua Finkel (Director/Vocal & Acting Coach and co-star/Kiss of the Spider Woman on Broadway, London, and its U.S. National Tour. David Galligan/LA Stage Alliance Lifetime Achievement Ovation Award; Director of S.T.A.G.E.(Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event) - 29 consecutive AIDS fundraising spectaculars 1984 - 2013 Director: Academy Award and Tony Award winner Rita Moreno; Director: Tony Award winner and 6-time Emmy Award winner Tyne Daly; Bruce Kimmel - President and CEO of Kritzerland Records and Creator of Kritzerland Presents at Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal; Out of the Box Web Series for Broadway World.com; Robert Marra - Director - Los Angeles, San Diego and U.S. Musical Theatre: The Spitfire Grill, Sweeney Todd, Closer Than Ever, Footloose, A Chorus Line, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Chess; Lee Martino - Choreographer/Director: Joel Hirschorn Award Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre; 3-Time Recipient of LA Drama Critics Circle Awards; 4-time Los Angeles Ovation Award winner; Director/Choreographer: When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney; Michael Matthews - 2012 Ovation Award Winner as Best Director of a Musical; The Color Purple and Co Artistic Director of the Celebration Theatre/Hollywood; Dan Mojica - Assistant Director: Disney's Beauty and The Beast National and International Tours; Universal Studios City Walk Creative Director; Director/Sacramento Music Circus/The Producers; Rent/The Welk Theatre, Escondido; Calvin Remsberg - Premier Vocal Coach/Broadway Musical Theatre Star; Director/Bare...A Pop Rock Opera; Director/Sweeney Todd/Musical Theatre West/Long Beach; Into the Woods.; David F.M. Vaughn - Director: Legally Blonde The Musical - 3D Theatricals; Shrek The Musical - 3D Theatricals; Broadway Musical Theatre Star - Shrek The Musical U.S. National Tour. Producer: Colin Quinn: Long Story Short/Broadway 2010; Equity Theatre Agents: Anthony Boyer - Stage 9/DDO; Jodie Bowman and Alisa Taylor - Brady, Brannon & Rich Agency; Steven Dry - Connor Ankrum & Associates; Sasha Passero - Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates; and Dave Secor of the Daniel Hoff Agency.
As a direct result of LA's Next Great Stage Star®, more than 80 of the annual competition's overall 140 contestants (to date) have been cast in top regional theatre shows, Broadway national tours, Las Vegas productions, and network television shows; while 8 have already made their Broadway and Off-Broadway debuts. An average of 50% of all contestants in each year's edition of Stage Star are signed by the competition's musical theatre Equity Agent/Judges.
Taking residency at The Federal April 1, 2012 as Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal (www.msapr.net), this unique, 100 seat supper in what was originally The Federal Bank in 1926, now overlooks the NoHo Arts District of North Hollywood. Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal is dedicated to presenting the best of Broadway performers in concert, and Nightclub Artists dedicated to the Great American Songbook of American standards and adult contemporary pop, Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal is located at 5303 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601. Known for its diverse creative California chic, gastro pub cuisine, coupled with its vintage 1926 interior fused with contemporary design sensibilities, The Federal is one of the most successful dining and entertainment destinations in Los Angeles. www.thefederalbar.com.