Pioneer Theatre Guild’s FutureStars presents first-ever virtual production

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Pioneer Theatre Guild’s FutureStars 2021 returns for its 19th year – with a twist! This year will be the competition’s first ever virtual production. A citywide talent search for Ann Arbor’s next star, FutureStars features students from Ann Arbor’s public high schools as they perform popular songs by various artists.

About the virtual format:

● Nineteen students will pre-record solos onstage in Schreiber Auditorium at Pioneer High School. All recording is being done with strict social distancing guidelines and safety protocols.

● The songs will be presented to a panel of judges virtually. The judges will decide on the Top 5 performances.

● Virtual audience members can tune into the pre-recorded event Saturday, March 13th at 7:00pm where they will be led through the event by 4 fantastic student hosts.

● Virtual audience members will participate in voting for their favorite act of the Top 5 and will be joined by the cast of the show LIVE immediately following the pre-recorded content.

● Musical numbers by our group of underclassmen, The RisingStars, will be presented throughout the evening.

Students are guided by professional coaches that assist them in learning their songs. This year’s coachings and rehearsals have been entirely virtual. While there are many challenges with singing live over Zoom, our coaches and students did an awesome job navigating the process.

Second year FutureStars participant, and Skyline High School senior, Nate Frison, says the transition to virtual coachings “was very smooth and is almost second nature now.” Frison feels “the band has been super helpful in making tracks that are easy to follow, and the coaches have been very helpful. We were able to adapt and get great feedback, despite only being able to use Zoom as a communication tool.”

Panel of Judges for FutureStars 2021
Tree Town Sound Radio Host, Matthew Altruda
Singer-Songwriter and Comedian, Camila Ballario
Opera singer and cast of HAMILTON National Tour, Jonathan Christopher
Broadway producer and University of Michigan musical theatre alum, Thomas Laub
Emily in Paris (Netflix) and Broadway performer (THE KING AND I, MEAN GIRLS) Ashley Park
Mayor of the City of Ann Arbor, Christopher Taylor

While this year will certainly be very different from years past, we are excited to share the new (and temporary) format with audiences soon.

Three year FutureStars participant and Pioneer High School senior, Jasmine Williams comments on what she enjoys about the show: “I think what I love most about FutureStars is being surrounded by such a supportive group of likeminded people. The community PTG has created makes this production so memorable and when our circumstances changed and we had to move online, the only thing that was truly altered was our environment. I think there is something to be said about the power of finding a community through art because it stays with you and helps you through the most bizarre of situations. I am so thankful for my PTG family and the relationships and memories I can take with me into my adult life and career because of FutureStars.”

Director/Producer: Jayme Kelmigian
Music Director: Billy Harrington
Vocal Coaches: Ryan Lewis, Adam Plomaritas
Rising Stars Music Director: John Bogdan
Host Coach: Julie Strassel
Performance Coaches: Andrew Plinio and Thani Brant
Technical Director: Mysti Plummer
PTG Sponsors: Jayme Kelmigian, Alex Leydenfrost, Mysti Plummer

By Terry Jacoby