LA's Next Great Stage Star Announced
"LAs Next Great Stage Star is more than a competition - it is an experience, deeply felt and expressed by these super-talented young people who are the new faces of our business. If this is any indication, the future of theatre is in good hands!!" - Multi-Million selling recording artist and author, Sam Harris
The Debbie Reynolds MAIN STAGE at the historic El Portal Theater hosted the 12th annual LA's Next Great Stage Star finale following a six week competition. Executive Producer and Creator Michael Sterling, along with his Co-Executive Producer and Co-Sponsor Barbara Van Orden, along with Associate Producer Peter Welkin, proudly offer this highly anticipated annual opportunity to talented individuals seeking to spotlight their abilities. Presented by Princess Cruises LA's Next Great Stage Star is the only competition of its kind in the Western United States. In addition, Jennifer Lin serves as Musical Director with Jeffrey Scott Parsons as Choreographer and Justin Michael Wilcox as the event's Host.
"The finale performance of LAs Next Great Stage Stars, a beautiful theatrical event. I was so proud to be a judge along side such noted industry professionals. The talent on stage was of a very high calibre. They made being a judge a tough job. Clearly, LAs got talent! Lots of it. Bravo and congratulations to all. A joy!" - Academy Award Winner, George Chakiris
LA's Next Great Stage Star began in 2006 as a showcase for Broadway musical theatre vocalists (18 - 32 in age). However, for the first time, this year's 12th annual event features competition in dance, acting and vocal categories. Since its beginning, 22 former contestants have made their Broadway and/or off-Broadway debuts, while another 50% (of the overall 228 contestants to date) are working professionally in musical theatre across the country, in Vegas productions and/or in lavish productions; at local and international theme parks, on board luxury liners cruising around the world, as well as landing roles in both TV commercials and episodic television.
"As a Sacramento-born Californian, I was so delighted and proud to see almost a full-slate of California born and bred musical theatre talent on stage at El Portal Theatre last night. As they say back in Jersey, "Who knew?" Can't wait to see what is next for these rising stars." - Tony Award Winner, John Lloyd Young
The annual 6 week long production of LA's Next Great Stage Star launched on Monday, July 23rd for the lucky few talented individuals selected from a long a grueling audition process. This year's contestants include: Monica Allan, Sarah Busic, Robert Collins, Branden Holzer, Drew Lake, Kristina Meyering, Nicole Abarca Powell, Jordan Schneider, Karlee Squires and Brooke Van Grinsven. All contestants compete at each competition with no eliminations until the Finale on Augusts 27th, 2018. The culmination of votes by judges and the audience members leading up to the Finale will determine the selection of the five top finalists, though the judges may be given an option to save an eliminated contestant.
"The next Great LA Stage Star was a wonderful event. The 10 finalists were all extremely talented. I'm happy that I was an audience member because it would have been very difficult as a judge to pick just one winner." - Y&R star and Hollywood Walk of Fame recipient, Kate Linder
This year's first place winner, Robert Collins, will receive a $2,500 cash prize, with the 2nd place winner, Branden Holzer, receiving $1,250. Both will be provided with professional franchised Equity theatre agency representation; and paid headlining engagements at Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal in the North Hollywood Arts District.
"The LA's Next Great Stage Star finale was so much fun and so inspirational, a winning combination! Each of the 10 young, talented, triple threat competitors were so eager and dedicated to their craft that I wanted them all to win. Of course, there can be only one winner, and what a winner Robert Collins is! I'm sure we will all be seeing a lot more of all the competitors performing all over the world in the coming years, just as past competitors and winners have proven. This is a wonderful competition!" - 2x Emmy nominee, Lee Purcell
In addition to Broadway and screen star special guest judges such as Academy Award Winner George Chakiris, multi-million selling recording artist Sam Harris, 4 Four time Emmy Award Winner Michael Learned, Tony Award Winner John Lloyd Young, an impressive judging panel of professionals has been assembled including Casting Directors Robby Armitage, Michael Donovan, Tal Fox, Beth Lipari and Jeremy Rich. Talent Agents Anthony Boyer, Jodie Bowman, Steven Dry, Nicole Dernersesian, Todd Eskin, Ronni Hart, Natalie Kollar, Victoria Morris; Producer/Director/Choreographers: Kevin Bailey, Eileen Barnett, Cate Caplin, Kay Cole, David Engel, Andy Ferrara, Joshua Finkel, Richard Hochberg, Bruce Kimmel, James Mellon, BARRY Pearl and Lewis Wilkenfeld.
Among the patrons attending the production were 2x Emmy nominated Lee Purcell, Tyler Perry's The Have and the Have Nots star Ro Brooks, Emmy Winner and Grammy nominee Geoffrey Mark and Walk of Fame recipient/The Young & the RESTLESS star Kate Linder.
"What a thrill it is to support and mentor young talent and what a truly wonderful event! The performers excited the audience, and to was an honor to witness the emergence of the next generation of LA Stage Talent! Kudos to everyone involved!!" - Emmy winner and Best Selling author, Geoffrey Mark
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"You could feel the excitement all through the air in the room. Congratulations to the entire cast of actors. You all were great and have very bright futures. Each contestant brought their A game and delivered powerful monologues and sang beautiful songs that worked cohesively in their performances. Congrats to Barbara Van Orden and Michael Sterling for putting together such an amazing show." - Star of Tyler Perry's The Haves and The Have Nots, Ro Brooks
The El Portal Theatre is a historic landmark in the San Fernando Valley located in the heart of North Hollywood just minutes from Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Disney, ABC, CBS-Radford and NBC. The theatre, originally built as a vaudeville house in 1926, sits across from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Art Institute of California - Hollywood, and the new Laemmle 7 Screen Theaters. The art deco marquee is visible to thousands of cars that travel on Lankershim Boulevard daily. In the mid 2000's the long awaited redevelopment of North Hollywood came to fruition with the grand openings of restaurants, upscale shops and a charming, urbanesque environment. Since its first opening in 1926 -- first for Vaudeville, then Silent Movies, and then Academy Award winning films, as the primo movie house in the valley -- the theatre has weathered the Jazz Age, the Depression, 4 wars, and finally the great earthquake of 1994.
In the past fourteen years many celebrities have graced the stages of El Portal including Jason Alexander, Paul Rodriguez, Fritz Coleman, Joanne Worley, Joseph Bologna, Renee Taylor, Rip Taylor, Adam Corolla, Ileana Douglas, Debbie Reynolds, Bea Arthur and Billy Goldenberg, Kitty Carlisle Hart's 96th Birthday Tour, Charles Nelson Reilly, Ed Begley, Jr. and his world-premiere musical Cesar and Ruben, Hal Linden, Carol Lawrence, Donna McKechnie, David Faustino, Sally Struthers, Maripat Donovan, Kathleen Chalfant, Carol Channing, a world premiere play with James Denton, and The Manhattan Transfer to name just a few. Hit shows include the ten time Ovation nominated Smokey Joe's Café; Debbie Reynolds in three sold-out visits, the energetic world renowned Groovaloos; A Conversation with Edith Head; Robert Wuhl in Assume the Position; Ray Bradbury's Falling Upward, The Kid From Brooklyn (the Danny Kaye musical), and the longest running show in El Portal history, The Marvelous Wonderettes, which played to sold-out houses for 19 months and continued its success off-Broadway for almost two years. The most exciting holiday production at the El Portal in 2010 was the British Panto "Cinderella"; produced by The Nigel Lythgoe Family followed by "Snow White" and "Cinderella" in 2011. In 2012, the legendary Smokey Robinson premiered his poetry and spoken word piece, "Words" to sold out houses.