BWW Review: Successful Finale LA's NEXT GREAT STAGE STAR 2018

BWW Review: Successful Finale LA's NEXT GREAT STAGE STAR 2018

On Monday, August 27 LA's Next Great Stage Star 2018 Presented by Princess Cruises came to a thrilling conclusion on the Debbie Reynolds Mainstage of the El Portal Theatre in NoHo. After a very entertaining 90-minute program in which the 10 contestants gave 150% to their monologues and songs from Broadway shows, eight contestants were eliminated and the top two finalists were selected. It was then decided, from the consensus of the judges, to add a third runnerup. Then each of the three proceeded to perform a second number after which the distinguished panel of judges made the final decision. Musical director par excellence Jennifer Lin accompanied at the piano throughout the three hour show.

BWW Review: Successful Finale LA's NEXT GREAT STAGE STAR 2018

(left to right, front row: Branden Holzer, Kristina Meyering, Robert Collins and Karlee Squires/ left to right, back row: Brooke Van Grinsven, Drew Lake, Jordan Schneider, Sarah Busic, Monica Allan, Nicole Abarca Powell and host Justin Michael Wilcox )

After the finalists' round of singing, the winning order became: in third place, Kristina Meyering; second place, Branden Holzer and LA's Next Great Stage Star 2018, winner Robert Collins, the second male to win first place in the 12 years of the competition.

In the second round the three finalists competed with: Kristina Meyering offering a riveting "When He Sees Me" from Waitress; Branden Holzer singing the lovely "Beautiful City" from Godspell and Robert Collins,"Wheels of a Dream" from Ragtime, a song that suited his rich baritone/tenor voice to the letter. All were on equal footing at the time and gave it their best shot. There really are no losers in the competition, every one of the ten is a winner!

There used to be twenty contestants who competed by singing only. The monologue is a new feature this year...and a very good one. It allows the performer to exhibit versatility. In the world of stage today you must be a triple threat to make it big. So, as each performer had to deliver a monologue and then sing, the producers thought it wise to reduce the number of contestants to ten.

When I asked the three winners the question: If you had to mention just one thing that you learned over the last six weeks that you consider of the utmost value to your future career in musical theatre, what would that be? ... each mentioned the sense of community and friendship that existed among all of the contestants. They also emphasized how they learned to choose the right material and put together a portfolio. I have included one exciting quote next to each picture below. The best of luck to one and all!

BWW Review: Successful Finale LA's NEXT GREAT STAGE STAR 2018

First Place: Robert Collins "I am enough. Be who you are and believe in yourself!"

BWW Review: Successful Finale LA's NEXT GREAT STAGE STAR 2018

Second Place: Branden Holzer "Simple, simple, simple. Simplicity and storytelling."

BWW Review: Successful Finale LA's NEXT GREAT STAGE STAR 2018

Third Place: Kristina Meyering "The feedback teaches you what works and what doesn't. In a monolgue put someone there."

Thanks to Michael Sterling and his great production team including Associate Producer Peter Welkin, to Justin Michael Wilcox who served once more as an upbeat, devilishly comedic host for the full six weeks, to Jeffrey Scott Parsons for his bright, upbeat choreography of the opening number "Footloose", to musical director Jennifer Lin, to the great panel of professional judges - made up from LA's top theatre directors, agents and casting directors - for giving of their time, and a special nod to the wonderful Barbara Van Orden for her very generous grant that has made LA's Next Great Stage Star 2018 Presented by Princess Cruises - the only live competition of its kind in LA - such an incredible success. Van Orden has such tremendous spirit and is a loving presence for all to admire.

BWW Review: Successful Finale LA's NEXT GREAT STAGE STAR 2018

(Celebrity judges, left to right: John Lloyd Young, Sam Harris, Barbara Van Orden, Michael Learned, George Chakiris and from Princess Cruises, Allan Stein.)

Well, that's it for another year! LA's Next Great Stage Star 2018 Presented by Princess Cruises was the top. See you next year!

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From This Author Don Grigware

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