First Sunday of LA's Next Great Stage Star 2013 Bows at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal



The Only Musical Theatre Competition of its Kind on the West Coast. Don' t miss your chance to cast your vote along with a panel of LA's most elite, Creative MusicalTheatre Forces as 20 Contestants compete for the Title of LA's Next Great Stage Star 2013, an Award of $1000 cash, a Professional Theatre Career, and their own Headlining Concert Engagement at Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal during 2013.

On Sunday January 6, 2013 LA's Next Great Stage Star got off to a riproaring start. Dazzling the audience was a completely new opening number utilizing a big screen. The theme of "I'm the Greatest Star" could not have been handled any better. First up was a voiceover of a 1963 interview with Barbra Streisand who made Broadway history that year with her splashy performance as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, while onscreen we saw the actual Playbill cover from the show of Barbra and Sydney Chaplin who played Nicky Arnstein. Then with the Broadway overture of Funny Girl as background the headshots of all 20 contestants of Next Great Stage Star 2013 flashed on the screen one at a time. What a terrific way to make them all stars! There followed a live musical presentation of the dynamic "Don't Rain On My Parade" from Funny Girl featuring all 20 contestants, nicely choreographed within the confines of the crowded space by Jackie Evans.

Each contestant was gleefully introduced by producer Michael Sterling, whose genius has lovingly guided the competition from the beginning. Each one then performed a song for the audience, which included 5 judges: directors Michael Matthews, Dan Mojica, TJ Dawson, casting director Mark Simon and theatre agent Steven Dry. The 20 contestants of LA's Next Great Stage Star 2013 include: Nick Adorno, Jonathan A. Arana, Chelsea Rae Bernier, Matthew Bohrer, Deyana Castellanos, Kim Dalton, Allen Darby, Ben Gibson, Kelsey Hainlen, Connor Howe, Alxander Jon, Laleh Khorsandi, Lexie Lowell, Catie Marron, Jonah Platt, Clinton James Sherwood, Katy Tang, Rachae Thomas, Katherine Washington and Charlotte Mary Wen. All performed with the exception of Jon, who was out of the country on a professional modeling assignment; he will join the competition next Sunday the 13th.

Highlights of the very enjoyable 3-hour presentation ranged from the dynamics of "One Night Only" from Dreamgirls, "Gorgeous" from The Apple Tree, "Joanna" from Sweeney Todd to Kander and Ebb's lovely "Isn't It Better?" from Funny Lady. Also represented were Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years, the more traditional Grease, Fiddler on the Roof and Mack & Mabel, and even a number from the daring new show Bare. Needless to say, all contestants gave their all to the material. I have no predictions this time around. I prefer to be surprised when I return for the finale Sunday February 10. All contestants experience a tremendous growth during the six weeks and develop a great comraderie with one another, which only serves to enhance the overall spirit of everyone involved. The contest truly gets more and more exciting as the weeks progress, so if you enjoy the feel of live competition, go, but make early reservations as each Sunday sells out fast. The Federal also serves a lovely brunch before the contest, if you so desire.

Praise as well to accompanist Michael Alfera, associate musical director. Musical director James Lent and Alfera will alternate Sundays. Thanks also to Nick Sartoris and to Peter Welkin, who this year is serving as associate producer of the event.

Bravo to one and all and much continued success to all the contestants!

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From This Author Don Grigware

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