The winner of L.A.’s Next Great Stage Star was decided Sunday with a college senior taking home the top honor. As part of the talent showcase, twenty contenders had been applying their vocals to Broadway show tunes every weekend starting in January at North Hollywood supper club Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal.
Instead of weekly eliminations, all of the contestants remained in the competition until the final round on Feb. 10 when the group was whittled down to five finalists. Charlotte Mary Wen won it with a performance of "I'd Give My Life For You" from "Miss Saigon."
Wen went home with a $1,000 cash prize, a paid headlining concert at Sterling’s Upstairs and a photography session. As a bonus, she said she walked away with growing confidence in her singing ability.
"This just gives me that push that I know I can do it if I put my heart to it," said Wen, who's a senior at University of Southern California.
Jonathan Arana, who finished runner up, said he also walked away with some added wind in his sails. "They always say be confident, don't be nervous," said Arana, a music teacher in San Bernardino. "It's easier said than done, but if you show them you have the confidence you're good to go."
L.A.’s Next Great Stage Star requires the participants to audition before they're selected to perform for the judges, who are agents, theatre artistic directors, choreographers and producers. Those selected were subject to a $375 fee. Another showcase, the August Wilson Monologue Competition, is holding its final local round at the Center Theatre Group's Mark Taper Forum March 4. There three finalists will be chosen to go to New York to perform at the famed dramatist’s namesake theater on May 6.