Pioneer Theatre Guild’s FutureStars 2020 returns for its 18th year at Pioneer High School’s Schreiber Auditorium with preliminary shows Jan. 17-18 and the finals Jan. 25. A citywide talent search for Ann Arbor’s next star, FutureStars features students from Ann Arbor’s public high schools as they sing, rap, and play music.
Bridget Roberts, a Top 5 Finalist last year, is thrilled for her fourth and final year as a FutureStars performer. “FutureStars is one of my favorite times of the year,” says the senior. “It’s different from PTG’s musicals because the performers and the audience interact more, and the hype from the audience brings a great energy to Pioneer.”
Students are guided by professional coaches that assist them in learning their songs. Ryan Yunck, a Pioneer High School alum and previous performer and winner of FutureStars 2010, says that working on FutureStars 2020 as a coach is a “Really a beautiful feeling!”
“This show means so much to me, and it’s been deeply fulfilling to be able to contribute to it these past several years,” he says. He added that working with Ann Arbor public high school students has, “honestly exceeded expectations, and that’s saying something! I always knew the talent level around here was through the roof, but I didn’t realize that the good vibes level was so high, too. These kids are a truly sweet, enthusiastic, hard-working bunch, and it’s been a real joy getting to know them and help them to shine.”
PTG Student Board President Etai Smotrich-Barr is excited by the opportunity to work with professional musicians and put on sold out shows.
“One of the things I am so grateful for in FutureStars is the resources available to us,” Smotrich-Barr says. “We get to perform with a live professional band in an auditorium that seats over a thousand people and sing our hearts out in front of our peers.”
As head stage manager, Kat Berens has a difficult but important job to keep the show running. She coordinates the rehearsals to ensure that every performer makes it to their coaching on time and with the necessary materials. Come opening night, she is at the back of the theatre calling cues and ready to step in if anything goes wrong.
“My favorite part is watching the show come together,” she says. “I get to see the numbers develop from the very first rehearsal, when performers are timidly reading through the sheet music, to the final performance.”
Each of the two preliminary shows features two musical themes. The top six acts from each preliminary show perform at the Finals, evaluated by a panel of celebrity judges and voted on by the audience, to determine the winning “FutureStar 2020.” The Finals Competition also includes performances by the RisingStars (participating underclassmen) and wildcard performances.
Friday, Jan. 17 at 7:30 pm (Preliminary Show – Themes include Arena Rock & myTunes: Top hits from 2019)
Saturday, Jan. 18 at 7:30 pm (Preliminary Show – Themes include Disney & 2000’s)
Saturday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 pm (Finals Show: Songs from all 4 themes: Arena Rock, myTunes, Disney, and 2000’s)
By Terry Jacoby