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LA’s Next Great Stage Star Kicks Off 1/8

LA's Next Great Stage Star™ 2012 bows to the New Year beginning Sunday, January 8th at Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's, the most critically acclaimed, award-winning supper club of its kind in Los Angeles.  The 6th anniversary presentation of this distinguished musical theatre talent competition, shines the spotlight on twenty contestants between the ages of 18 and 32 during six intense weeks of competition which concludes Sunday, February 12, 2012. The annual event continues to be Executive Produced by Michael Sterling with Associate Producer Tony Monsour of Michael Sterling & Associates (, and judged by an elite panel of Los Angeles musical theatre industry professionals.  James Lent returns as Musical Director for his third year.  Award-winning Choreographer Tania Possick returns for her second year;  Nick Sartoris (Sound and Lighting) returns for his fifth year, and Larry George (Additional Lighting and Production Assistance) joins the creative team for his first year.

Selected through an audition process held in mid-December, 2011, Stage Star 2012 contestants include: Lauren Leigh Barker, James Blashaw, Taylor Courtney, Chelsea Emma Franko, Melody Goodell, Demaree Hill, Tyler Hodges, Justine Huxley, David Laffey, Katrina Lauren McGraw, Brett McMahon, Harrison Meloeny, Tyson Pyles, Monica Quinn, Scott Reardon, Tyler Scheef, Caroline St. Louis, Adrienne Storrs, Jessie Withers, and Josie Yount.

This year's unprecedented panel of seventeen judges include Casting Directors: Michael Donovan (Michael Donovan Casting); Daniel Solis (Disney Entertainment Casting). Producers/Directors/Writers: Roger Bean (Creator/Writer/Director The Marvelous Wonderettes, Life Could be a Dream, Summer of Love); Stephanie Coltrin (Artistic Director - Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities); T.J. Dawson (Exeuctive Producer/3D Theatricals/Fullerton, CA); David Elzer (Producer - The Marvelous Wonderettes, Life Could be a Dream; Having it All); Steven Glaudini (Artistic Director/Producer - Musical Theatre West/Long Beach, CA, Director - Moonlight Amphitheatre, Vista, CA; Richard Israel (Artistic Director West Coast Ensemble,  Director - Gypsy, Having it All); Bruce Kimmel (Creator/Writer/Producer/Director - Out of the Box web TV Series, Kritzerland Records, The Brain from Planet X, The First Nudie Musical); John LaLonde (Artistic Director/Candlelight Pavilion, Claremont, CA);  Robert Marra (Director - Sweet Charity, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Chess and Oklahoma/Musical Theatre of Los Angeles; Dan Mojica (Director/Choreographer,  Associate Director/Choreographer - Disney's Beauty and The Beast National and International Tours); Calvin Remsberg (Vocal Coach and Director Into the Woods, Broadway Rocks Anaheim – Heritage Forum; Sweeney Todd/Musical Theatre West/Long Beach, CA);  Equity Department Theatre Agents: Jodie Bowman and Jacole Kitchen (Kazarian, Spencer, Ruskin & Associates); Steven Dry (Schiowitz/Connor/Ankrum/Wolf, Inc., and theatre, film, and television agent Dave Secor (The Daniel Hoff Agency).  

The Barbara Van Orden Grant:  For the first time in its six (6) year history, The Barbara Van Orden Grant was established to assist production of LA's Next Great Stage Star™ 2012.  "A longtime nightclub star, actress, businesswoman, producer, author, former print and commercial model, and live arts enthusiast, Ms. Van Orden's Grant is a vital contribution to the success of this year's competition," says Executive Producer Michael Sterling.  "Her passion for and generosity toward the performing arts is warmly acknowledged by a myriad of artists, performers and creative producers and directors throughout Los Angeles.  She is a friend to many and we, in particular, are honored to have her among us this season."   

Contestants will compete at each competition with no eliminations until the Finale on February 12.  The Finale will determine the selection of one winner and four finalists. The winner will receive a $1000 cash prize and a lucrative, paid headlining engagement at Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's during 2011.  Noted Los Angeles director Robert Marra will direct the winner's cabaret act.  Upon the winner's debut at Sterling's, he or she will also be provided with an overnight stay at the Sheraton Universal Hotel and dinner for two in the hotel's signature "Californias" Restaurant.  The Sheraton Universal has extended the same such gift to Stage Star 2012's first runner up.  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 4th year as a Gold Sponsor of LA's Next Great Stage Star™. 

The winner of LA's Next Great Stage Star™ 2012 will also receive a complete photo session with Gold Sponsor - Los Angeles photographer Robert Douglas

Silver Sponsors include: The Anderson Trophy Company of North Hollywood, CA which returns for its second year as the exclusive provider of five customized awards for the winner and four finalists of LA's Next Great Stage Star™ 2012.   

Additionally, the winner and four finalists will receive auditions with Silver Sponsors: Julia Flores of Julia Flores Casting for (McCoy/Rigby Entertainment at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts), and Glenn Casale – Resident Director – California Musical Theatre/Sacramento, CA;   All 20 contestants have also been invited to audition for Silver Sponsor Lewis Wilkenfeld – Artistic Director of Cabrillo Music Theatre at the Fred Kavli Theatre in the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza/Thousand Oaks, CA.  

Jerry Evans of JLE Media Group, Inc. is also credited as a Silver Sponsor for his assistance with the competition's video coverage, editing, music and voice over work.

Attendance is by reservation only.  For reservations, call Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's (818) 754-8700.  An $11 entertainment cover charge and a $13 drink and/or food minimum apply for the first five competitions.  An $18 entertainment cover and a $13 drink and/or food minimum apply only to the February 12 Finale.   With the exception of the Finale, audience members are entitled to vote for their favorite performers at each competition, with the exception of the Finale.  Audience votes will be added to the overall scores of the judges.  

Since the premiere of LA's Next Great Stage Star™ in 2007, each year's winner has been signed by top Los Angeles Equity theatre agents and gone on to enjoy a professional career in theatre.  In January, 2010, Merissa Haddad (2007) ended a year run as Mary Valli in the Chicago company of Jersey Boys. She also performed the role on Broadway during Fall 2010, and in December, 2010 joined the Las Vegas/Pallazo Resort production of the show in the same role.   

Jantre Haskin (2008 winner) went on to perform with the Pacific Conservatory for Performing Arts and the Sierra Repertory Company in northern California and continues to star in southern California Musical Theatre.  

2009 Stage Star winner Theresa Anne Swain starred throughout the U.S. in regional musicals, before migrating to New York.

Stage Star winner Janet Krupin (2010), a USC Senior and Cinema major at the time of her win, was given her first Equity co-starring role/contract one week after the competition by Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.  Ms. Krupin was then hired as a featured cast member in the new musical Bring it On written by Tony Award-winning composers Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) and Tom Kitt (Next to Normal). The elaborate production (based on the motion picture of the same name) is previewed in Atlanta, GA last year at the ALLIANCE THEATRE; and then began its U.S. National Tour in October at the Center Theatre Group's Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. 

Judy Mora (2011 winner) performs the co-starring role of "Jasmine" in Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular which is presented daily at Disney's California Adventure Theme Park adjacent to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.  The production is a Broadway-style musical based on the animated Disney film of the same name.

Other outstanding Stage Star contestants have also gone on to professional careers such as top five finalists Reba Buhr (2011) and Domonique Paton (2010) who now serve as hosts and interviewers for the Disney Channel's 365 television series collection; 2010 Stage Star contestant Luke Yellin (co-star of the 2010/2011 U.S. National Tours of Grease; and Avenue Q); and Derek Klena (2010 top five finalist) who is getting ready to open in New York for the January 31, 2012, Off-Broadway premiere of Carrie: The Musical at the MCC Theater at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.  Preceding the casting of Klena in Carrie, the 20 year old singer/dancer's career was given a substantial boost by Stage Star 2010 judges who hired him to star in a series of SoCal regional musical theatre productions, including Hairspray (Musical Theatre West/2011), Happy Days: The Musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (Cabrillo Music Theatre/2010), and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Performance Riverside/2010).  Klena also appeared in the Hollywood Bowl's (2011) summer production of Hairspray with Marissa Jaret Winokur, Harvey Firestein and Nick Jonas.  

Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's is produced by Michael Sterling and Tony Monsour of Michael Sterling & Associates, the Studio City-based entertainment public relations and Production Company.  Since 1980, Mr. 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. 

In September, 2009, Sterling joined Broadway World TV as a Los Angeles producer and host.  Mr. Sterling and Jerry Evans of the JLE Media Group, Inc. in Los Angeles  create and provide Broadway World TV coverage of select theatre and theatrical events.  

In late May, 2010, Sterling and LA Stage Ovation-nominated actor/writer and Off-Broadway star Paul Stroili, joined forces as co-producers and co-hosts of the now popular and successful radio series State of the Arts presented by Breakdown Services and Performing Arts  The one hour, weekly global series is broadcast live each Monday at 4:00 pm PST by the Network.  State of the Arts is also carried by iTunes; and (with the proper "app") can be heard on all iPhones, Android Phones, electronic netbooks, pads and tablets.  To date, State of the Arts has hosted such celebrities as Carol Lawrence, Carol Channing, Florence Henderson, Richard Chamberlain, Mike Farrell, Ann Archer, Jim J. Bullock, Jim Parrack, Tab Hunter, Donna McKechnie, Andrea McArdle, Skylar Astin, John Lloyd Young, Sally Struthers, Marica Wallace, Roslyn Kind, Ryan Eggold, Gilliann Zinser, John Tartaglia, Paulo Andino, cast members from the U.S. National Tours In the Heights, West Side Story, and many more.

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