FutureStars 2023: Performers bring talent, energy and thrills to annual event

Read original article at www.weloveannarbor.com.

FutureStars 2023 returned to Schreiber Auditorium inside Pioneer High School on Saturday night for the first time since 2020 and packed the house with an enthusiastic and supportive crowd. The Pioneer Theatre Guild’s amazing production featured incredible performances by local high school musicians and singers and performers.

The 21st annual event is a citywide talent search for Ann Arbor’s next star that showcases students from Ann Arbor’s public high schools as they perform popular songs by various artists and compete for the title of FutureStar 2023!

The performances were incredible and the talent and effort from each contestant was evident from the first note to the final chorus. 

Students are guided by professional coaches who assist them in learning their songs and prepare for their performances on the big stage. The event also featured two medley performances by the RisingStars, a show-choir-type group that feature the many talents of the underclassmen. Students also serve as the hosts for the evening – they work together to write the script and MC the show.

The winners for the night were Pioneer juniors Lucy Dineen and Teddy Tolbert singing “Fall in Line” (Christina Aguilera/Demi Lovato). But, really, everyone who stepped on the stage was worthy of the winning moniker.

“I am so proud of all the participating students,” said Jayme Kelmigian, FutureStars Director & Producer. “It felt like we finally got to return home. It’s also the first time since 2020 that we were allowed to sell out, and we did! Between the 1,474 audience members, eight fabulous judges, and 26 entertaining numbers, there wasn’t a dull moment.

“Our goals for the show were to bring the energy, move with intention, and to find the truth behind the lyrics. I can confidently say our students rose to the occasion.”

Speaking of rising to the occasion, the house band was spot on all night long and were the perfect accompaniment for the singers. The group featured Mike Shea (drums), Grace Mauk (keyboard), Neil Donato (keyboard), Mike Harrington (guitar), Adam Plomaritas (guitar) and Ken Pesick (bass).

The hosts for the night were Olivia Callanan, Megan Gottfried, Jennifer Heikkinen, Max Janevic and Lindsay Robert.

The lighting crew was Theo Teitgen, Tate Zeleznik, Hunter Bi, Jack Corbett, Nathon Hiemstra, Marina Lancester, Sophie Maine and Rose Quillen. The sound crew featured Marvin Amrine, Benjamin Zyczynski, Luke Ankeney, Ashton Maddock, Hadden VanDorn-Greer and Brian Walker. 

The evening’s performances were judged by a panel of judges who also gave their opinions to the artists after their songs. The judges select the top five performances and then the audience ultimately crowns the winner of FutureStars based on crowd noise.

Panelist of Judges for FutureStars 2023

  • Matthew Altruda – Ann Arbor’s 107one Tree Town Sound Radio Host and Sonic Lunch summer concert series curator
  • Blake Corum – University of Michigan Football Running back
  • Angela Davis – Detroit based singer, songwriter, and author
  • Naz Edwards – Broadway performer, Voice Actress, and Voice and Acting teacher and clinician
  • Liz Gray – Vocal technician, Actor, Director, and justice-centered educator on faculty with University of Michigan Department of Musical Theatre
  • Nikhai Hill Green – University of Michigan Football Linebacker
  • Geoff Packard – Seasoned broadway performer and assistant professor of acting and directing with the University of Michigan Department of Theatre & Drama
  • Christopher Taylor -The Mayor of the City of Ann Arbor since 2014

To learn more about Pioneer Theatre Guild, visit a2ptguild.org. 

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By Terry Jacoby