TV: LA’s Next Great Stage Star 2012!

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Upon the conclusion of six weeks of intense competition which began January 8, nearly a thousand patrons supported 20 of Southern California's newest and most dynamic, young musical theatre performers in LA's Next Great Stage Star 2012 at Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's in Studio City, CA.  

Presented by Producers Michael Sterling and Tony Monsour in association with performer and arts philanthropist Barbara Van Orden, 21 year old singer/actress/dancer Chelsea Emma Franko of Apple Valley, CA emerged victorious at the 6th annual competition's glittering Finale on Sunday, February 12th.  Distinguished finalists included Carrie St. Louis who placed second, with Tyson Pyles and David Michael Laffey tying for third place, and Justine Huxley taking fourth place. 

Established at Vitello's Restaurant, Sterling's Upstairs has reigned as the most critically acclaimed, award-winning supper club of its kind in the greater Los Angeles area since 2006, and has presented the best of Broadway performers and nightclub artists who sing the music of Broadway and the Great American Songbook.  However, it was announced by Michael Sterling on February 12th that Sterling's Upstairs will close its doors at Vitello's following its final show there on March 18th,  and open April 1st as Sterling's Uptstairs at North Hollywood (NoHo) hot spot The Federal Bar and Restaurant located in the heart of NoHo's trendy Arts District.  "After investing six years of sweat equity into the building and reputation of Sterling's Upstairs, not to mention our stake of propriety in bringing back the art of cabaret to the cultural landscape of Los Angeles, we found our needs growing rapidly both artistically and technically with each passing year at Vitello's," said Sterling at the Stage Star Finale after-party hosted by The Federal.

"We are thrilled," Sterling said, "to be partnering with General Manager Ed Levy in this new venture.  Ed is not only supportive of our achievements, but has an innate and first- hand understanding of our productions and future goals.  His expertise at the helm of The Federal comes from a deeply dedicated tenure with The Federal's parent company, Knitting Factory Entertainment, a cutting edge corporation based in Los Angeles.  The Federal's exquisite design emulates the present meeting the past (circa. 1930's).  Add to that, their culinary, gourmet sensibilities toward California cuisine, a spectacular second story setting with its state-of-the-art lighting and sound technology, a proscenium stage, a star dressing room and VIP green room, two bars, and an outdoor patio... "and.. well... it's a win-win for Sterling's Upstairs (, The Federal, and the thousands of new guests and die-hard patrons of the arts who we will be introducing to The Federal."

Though LA's Next Great Stage Star 2013 will be held at Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal.  This year's 2012 Stage Star Judges included: Michael Donovan - Michael Donovan Casting - Theatre, Film, Television, Commercials; Daniel Solis - Disney Entertainment Casting –Anaheim, Tokyo, Disney Cruises; David Elzer - Producer - The Marvelous Wonderettes, Life Could be a Dream; Steven Glaudini - Artistic Producer/Director – Musical Theatre West/Long Beach, CA, Director - Moonlight Amphitheatre, Vista, CA; Robert Marra – Director – A Chorus Line, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Dan Mojica - Associate Director/Choreographer - Disney's Beauty and The Beast - National and International Tours; Vocal Coach and Broadway singer Dan Callaway – Executive Committee/Musical Theatre Guild of Los Angeles; Creator/Writer/Director Roger Bean – The Marvelous Wonderettes, Life Could be a Dream; Executive Producer T.J. Dawson and Producer Daniel Dawson – 3-D Theatricals/Fullerton, CA; Director Richard Israel – Once Upon a Mattress, Gypsy, Having it All; John LaLonde – Artistic Director Candlelight Pavilion/Claremont, CA; Calvin Remsberg - Vocal Coach and Director -  Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd/Musical Theatre West/Long Beach, CA; Producer/Director/Composer/Author Bruce Kimmel of Kritzerland Records; Equity Department Theatre Agents: Jodie Bowman and Jacole Kitchen - Kazarian, Spencer & Associates; Dave Secor - Daniel Hoff Agency; and Steven Dry – Connor, Ankrum & Associates.  1976 Tony Award winner Sammy Williams (A Chorus Line) was a special celebrity guest judge at the Stage Star Finale on February 12. 

Selected by Sterling and Monsour through an audition process held in mid-December, Stage Star 2012 the competition's fifteen remaining  included Lauren Leigh Barker, James Blashaw, Taylor Courtney, Melody Goodell, Demaree Hill, Tyler Hodges, Katrina Lauren McGraw, Brett McMahon, Harrison Meloeny, Monica Quinn, Scott Reardon, Tyler Scheef, Adrienne Storrs, Jessie Withers, and Josie Yount.
All 20 contestants sang at each competition with no eliminations until the Finale which determined the winner and four top finalists.  Ms. Franko received a $1000 cash prize and a lucrative, paid headlining engagement at Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's during 2012.  Noted Los Angeles director Robert Marra will direct Ms. Franko's cabaret act.

Ms. Franko will also receive a photo session with Silver Sponsor Robert Douglas of Robert Douglas Photography.

Upon Franko's debut at Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal, she will be provided with a luxurious suite by the Sheraton Universal Hotel and dinner for two in the hotel's signature "Californias" Restaurant.  The Sheraton has extended the same such gift to Stage Star's first runner up Carrie St. Louis, who will also headline Sterling's during 2012, as will Pyles, Laffey and Huxley.   Known as the "Hotel of the Stars" for nearly 40 years, the Sheraton Universal blends four-star service with the history and glamour of an iconic Hollywood hotel. The Sheraton's participation with Michael Sterling & Associates, marks the hotel's fourth year as a Gold Sponsor of LA's Next Great Stage Star.

Anderson Trophy Co. of North Hollywood, CA served as a Silver Sponsor for their second year, providing the top five contestants with official Stage Star awardS. Anderson Trophy has been providing trophies and awards to North Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita, Burbank, Glendale and Los Angeles since 1972. 

For his first year as a Gold Sponsor, Jerry Evans of the JLE Media Group served as Stage Star's official videographer and media producer for Broadway World TV (BWW TV).

Franko, St. Louis, Pyles, Laffey and Huxley will receive private auditions with Silver Sponsors: Julia Flores of Julia Flores Casting for McCoy/Rigby Entertainment at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts... just south of Los Angeles; and Glenn Casale/Resident Director for California Musical Theatre/Sacramento Music Circus in Sacramento, CA;  During the competition, Lewis Wilkenfeld – Artistic Director of Cabrillo Music Theatre at the Fred Kavli Theatre in the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks, CA - arranged for all 20 contestants to audition for Cabrillo's upcoming production Once Upon a Mattress.  Stage Star contestant Scott Reardon was cast by Wilkenfeld and Director Richard Israel as Prince Dauntless in the production. 

Additional Stage Star 2012 Silver Sponsors included Broadway LA at Hollywood's Pantages Theatre, The Pasadena Playhouse, Thousand Oaks' Cabrillo Music Theatre, 3-D Theatricals at the historic Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton, CA.

STERLING'S UPSTAIRS at Vitello's has been produced for nearly six years by Michael Sterling and Tony Monsour of Michael Sterling & Associates, the Studio City-based entertainment public relations and Production Company.  It was at the Stage Star 2012 after party at The Federal Bar and Restaurant in North Hollywood's famed NoHo Arts District, that Sterling announced the close of Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's Since 1980, Sterling has represented such stellar clients as Elizabeth Taylor, Lance Armstrong, Scott Hamilton, David Copperfield, Joan Collins, Alan Thicke, Carol Lawrence, David Brenner, Andy Gibb, and Robert Goulet.  Aside from his celebrity clientele, Mr. Sterling has represented various National Theatre and arena tours, Los Angeles theatre productions, Emmy Award-winning television specials, celebrity books, albums and CD's.  Sterling is also a critically-acclaimed director of musical theatre in Los Angeles, and has produced various theatrical events and productions throughout southern California.

Since 2009, Sterling has been the Los Angeles co-producer and correspondent for Broadway World TV by providing video coverage of select theatre and theatrical events. He currently works with Jerry Evans of JLE Media Group. 

On May 31, 2010, Mr. Sterling, along with LA Stage Ovation-nominated actor/writer Paul Stroili, joined forces as co-creators, co-producers and co-hosts of the now hugely popular radio series State of the Arts presented by Breakdown Services and Performing Arts  The global series is broadcast live each Monday at 4:00 pm PST by the Network, and (with the proper "app") can be heard on all iPhones and Android Phones.  The series is also available on iTunes.  To date, State of the Arts has hosted such stars as Carol Lawrence, Carol Channing, Florence Henderson, Richard Chamberlain, Lorenzo Lamas, Mike Farrell, Jim Parrack, Tab Hunter, Donna McKechnie, Craig Bierko, Scott Hamilton, Andrea McArdle, Skylar Astin, Sally Struthers, Marica Wallace, John Tartaglia, Rex Smith, Anne Archer, Roslyn Kind, Ryan Eggold, Gilliann Zinser, Michael Rupert, Megan McGinnis, David Burnham, cast members from the U.S. National Tours In the Heights, West Side Story, and many more.


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