2021 Virtual FutureStars Still A Massive Success

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FutureStars participants are congratulated for their performances

Pioneer Theatre Guild’s first ever virtual FutureStars presented new changes for both the format and the competitors, but they were able to rise to the challenge.

Creating a show without in person meetings is no small undertaking. As a result, all members of PTG had to work hard and collaborate to make it successful. The winner of the competition, Pioneer senior Jasmine Williams, said that the experience was very unique, but was still enjoyable. “I was very wary of doing any extracurricular activities virtually because I couldn’t imagine what it would be like,” Williams said. “Because it was online and set up much differently than in person Future Stars, you knew right away that everyone that was there, wanted to be there. We maintained our sense of community effortlessly.”

Each of the 20 competitors had the chance to record their song on stage in Schreiber Auditorium, where several cameras had been set up. The footage was then edited with musical accompaniment, as well as commentary from the judges. 

The placement of the cameras presented one major challenge to contestants; it limited the space they could move in. Unlike most years, singers had to stay in a limited area, rather than being able to dance and use the entire stage. Some solved this by centering their performance on a stool. Others simply danced within the space they were given, or focused entirely on their vocal performance.

Performers also had to work harder to engage the audience, as they could not interact with an actual crowd. Using multiple camera angles, the performers and production team created a visually interesting show.

The experience was not diminished by the fact that the show was virtual. Each singer gave a unique performance. The songs were well-rehearsed and, as in past years, the singers did an excellent job.

Each contestant had the opportunity to receive feedback from a panel of judges. The judges provided a variety of perspectives, from Broadway performers to Ann Arbor locals, and all of them gave meaningful comments to the performers.

Having well known and well accomplished people that are in the fields that I wish to be in one day give me feedback and words of encouragement made all the practicing so worth it,” Williams said.

Mixed throughout the performances were medleys by a group of underclassmen, the RisingStars. The group was shown doing a choreographed and socially distanced dance in front of Pioneer, which provided a fun interlude. In addition, while the hosts could not do as many skits as they usually do, they opened the show with a zoom skit to connect to the audience.

The audience was able to vote for the winner from the Top 5 selected by the judges, using a google form instead of the usual decibel reader measuring the crowd’s applause. Though there were many deserving acts, the Top 5 spots were well-deserved.

Williams said that, in spite of the differences to this year’s FutureStars, winning was a good feeling after all the work put into the show. “I was smiling for weeks after the night of the show. I got so much love from my peers and my family and it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever known,” she said.

2021 FutureStars winner Jasmine Williams performs