PTG’s FutureStars spotlights astounding performances after changes in venue

The Pioneer Theatre Guild showcased its annual FutureStars at the Power Center on Feb. 26, featuring more than 20 performances, and a grand finale win of Joshua Turner’s “Your Man” by senior Charlie Duke.

“When I won the event, I was clearly surprised … I wasn’t even expecting to be a finalist, although I had somewhat hoped that would be the case,” said Duke. “To go from that to actually winning FutureStars admittedly blew me away, and I was not at all prepared for it.”

Out of the 24 performances, finalists were selected by this year’s guest judges which were University of Michigan football players Blake Corum and Michael Morris, Ann Arbor mayor Christopher Taylor, local rapper Kid Jay, singer and songwriters Erin Zindle and Amy Petty, and radio host Matthew Altruda. 

The five finalists were Pioneer seniors Helena Kremer, Cali Hill, Zoe Resendez, Charlie Duke, and Suri Gaiana.

The winner was then determined using a decibel meter that measured the loudest applause from the audience for each finalist.

For many of the performers, FutureStars brought back an opportunity to perform that has been limited for two years.

“I forgot what it was like to perform in front of a live audience, and the feeling you get when listening to the crowd cheer is electrifying,” said Kremer who performed “Easy on Me” by Adele. “I honestly couldn’t even hear the host when they announced that I made the top five, I literally stood there for a second and then realized what it meant.”

Prior to the event, PTG had encountered struggles finding a venue due to the closure Schreiber auditorium, the original place of the event. Although the relocation to the Power Center brought additional need for adjustments, preparations for the show went relatively smoothly.

“Not being in our own home theater made this very difficult for my team and I,” said Pioneer junior Lindsay Robert, head stage manager of the show. “Having to completely re-learn how to use things was super frustrating. But through trial and error, it ended up going very well.”

Rehearsals prior to tech week were short and spanned over a couple months, including 10-30 minutes of weekly vocal coach sessions for each performer. The tech week consisted of 4-5 hour rehearsals leading up to the show for four days.

Public reaction to the show was immensely positive and overwhelming.

“It was amazing to see everyone sing in person again, especially in such an awesome space,” said Pioneer junior Peach Trippell. 

Duke was met with a roar of applause from audience members who awaited his exit from the show following his win. 

“I actually after a couple minutes had to go back to the dressing to cool down from all the excitement by myself, which seems like the opposite kind of thing you’re expected to do after winning this kind of event,” he said. “I was just so grateful for everything that had happened that night that it was kind of overwhelming.” 

In fact, Duke’s winning performance, “Your Man,” was a unique piece, a relationship to a song that dated back years to when he was a freshman. 

“I only ever learned about it in the first palace due to some choir friends telling me that my low voice reminded them of it and they they wanted me to sing it. After hearing the same thing from a couple other people, I decided to actually start listening to the song and ended up learning the words and eventually the guitar part,” Duke said.

Enthusiasm from the crowd was evident throughout the entire night, leaving a memorable imprints on all performers and viewers likewise.

“I had the most fun I’ve had since the start of the pandemic and it was truly euphoric. I was surrounded by so many talented musicians in an environment that was so supportive and positive,” said Kremer. “I don’t think there is anything like it.”