January 30, 2014
For the first time in FutureStars’ 12-year history, a dancing pair (Robbie Stephens and Sophie Kromis) took home the title!
Main text and captions by Ciara Stella Linden
Pioneer Theatre Guild has done it again: FutureStars 2014 was a roaring success! The Ann Arbor talent pool seems to be bottomless. This year some brilliant students returned even more polished, and new students with incredible musical and dance gifts emerged. The evening was full of jaw-dropping acts, performed for a sold-out house of over 1500 people!
Although FutureStars is billed as a competition (there is a winner, after all), it’s really a showcase. For the students and audiences alike, the competition is overshadowed by pure entertainment. It may be cliché to say that “everyone is a winner”, but, well, at FutureStars Finals, it’s true. With performances like these, even the audience members are winners (and not just because they nabbed tickets before it sold out).
While we’re on the subject of the winners, though, we may as well take a quick second to congratulate the official ones: Community High School’s pair of Robbie Stephens and Sophie Kromis won after a heartfelt, emotional, and beautifully executed dance to A Great Big World’s “Say Something.” It should be noted, too, that they choreographed the number themselves. These two are likely to have bright futures ahead of them. Congratulations!
The future of AAPS theater is unknown due to the possibility of yearly budget cuts, but everyone on stage, behind the scenes, and in the audience was fully engaged in enhancing and enjoying the theatrical experience on Finals night. Thank you to all of the Pioneer Theater Guild members, staff, fans, and patrons, and we hope we will have the opportunity to see you again at FutureStars 2015!
What would a competition be without a fine group of judges? No Simon Cowells here, just some of Ann Arbor’s finest talent spotters. (clockwise from top left) Matthew Altruda, host of Ann Arbor’s 107.1’s Tree Town Sound
| Erin Zindle, singer & instrumentalist in Ann Arbor’s folk-rock band The Ragbirds
| Dymonte Thomas
, freshman Defensive Back for the U of M football team | Dee Tomasetta
, So You Think You Can Dance S9 contestant & U of M Dance student
Oren Levin, Isaac Scobey-Thal, & Austin Hadwick started off the show with Hanson’s “MmmBop.” The audience, of course, couldn’t help but sing along.
Possibly the first sets crew member to ever make it to the FS Finals, Luke Lee delighted the audience with Air Supply’s “All Out of Love.” | Robbie Stevens’s athleticism shines while dancing to Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”
Gabbi Keen holds the audience in the palm of her hand with Sting’s “Fields Of Gold.” | Huron’s Lexxus Glaze (with Tia Khainninissa and Sofie Jahren) brought the motown sound to Ann Arbor with The Supreme’s “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.
Michael Shapiro (with Tia Khainninissa and Rose Meehan) sang The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” to a girl he pulled on stage from the audience. The crowd went wild!
The highly anticipated break-dancers Sena Adjei (center), Darius Sanderford, Nick Washington, and Deandre Jones were full of surprises with their “Heartbreak Remix.”
Dancers Julien Heidt and Sherry Li gave the illusion that they were floating on air during Payton Lao and Mira Heaney’s emotional rendition of Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.”
Mira Heaney, Payton Lao, Sherry Li, and Julien Heidt (with host Aaliyah Jihad) enjoy the judges' repartee after their performance.
Soulful singers Alexa Zielinski and Olivia Roumel rocked Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet.”
(Top-6 finisher) Pioneer’s Andrew Kauffmann and Samantha Torres showed their vocal power with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love.”
Payton Lao captivated with Alicia Keys’s “If I Ain’t Got You.” | Tommy Kim charmed with his acoustic arrangement of The Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.”
Alexandra Howell (with Rachel Kindred, Gabbi Keen, & Alexa Zielinski) gave Grammy-winning artist Lorde a run for her money performing “Royals.”
The hosts kept things moving in style all evening! From left: Tim Mpanje, Mackenzie O’Connor, Ryan Michaels, Aaliyah Jihad, & Reyaan Ali. (Not pictured: their Teletubby alter egos.)
Drew Polovick (with Max Houser, Will Brinkerhoff, & Johnny Kroll) reminded us why we love punk with Blink 182’s “All The Small Things.”
(Top-6 finisher) Pioneer senior and FutureStars newcomer Thad Stalmack II gave more than 100% with Prince’s “Kiss.” | (Top-6 finisher) Community’s Hannah Hesseltine enchanted the audience with Ariana Grande’s “Tattooed Heart.”
(Top-6 finisher) The audience’s faces say it all: Community’s Oren Levin lights up the stage with Jason Isbell’s country hit “Cover Me Up.”
Micah Miller and Tommy Kim perform a moving rendition of Rihanna’s “Stay.”
Emmalee Mills (with backup singers Hannah Cesnik & Alexa Zielinski) knocked it out of the park with Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love.” | (Top-6 finisher) Pioneer’s Olivia Roumel’s jazzy smooth voice fit perfectly with Sara Bareilles’ “Manhattan.”
Ivy Gleason, Emma McGlashen, & Alexa Zielinski’s harmonies were spot-on in Pistol Annies’ “I Feel A Sin Coming On.”
The underclassmen Rising Stars finished out the high school acts with Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (soloists Max Housner & Britta Carlson).
While the judges were deliberating on the Top-6 finishers, the FutureStars directors gave a special performance: Tim Van Riper (Singing Coach) on the keys, Claire Crause (Dance Coach) dancing, & Robert Ariza (Director) singing Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
The Directors & Mentors (l-r): Storm Lever, Claire Crause (PTG ’13), Kyle Timson, Billy Harrington (PTG ’06), Robert Ariza, Tim Van Riper (PTG ’10), Ellie Fishman, Alex Prakken, Schuyler Robinson (PTG ’11), Sabra Satz-Kojis (PTG Senior, ’14)
The Band (l-r): Robert Wolfe (keys), Billy Harrington (drums), Tim Van Riper (keys), Mike Harrington (guitar), Sam Collins (bass), & Adam Plomaritas (guitar)
The Tech Staff (l-r): Mysti Plummer (Technical Director), Kris Park, Amira Belwafa (Sets Supervisor, PTG ’08), & Patrick Schrock (Sound Designer). Not pictured: Kasia Mrozewska-Fenz (Set & Paint Designer) & Molly Leonard (Student Lights Designer).
Congratulations to everyone for an outstanding show!
About Ciara Stella Linden: After completing her Bachelors of Engineering from U of M, Ciara worked with the Pioneer Theatre Guild for ten years as the Sets Shop Supervisor, Technical Director, and Web/Communications Manager. Ciara recently relocated to downtown Detroit with her husband, and she now manages the PTG website remotely. Ciara hopes to enjoy the PTG shows from the audience for years to come! (Thank you, Ciara!!! — Myra)