PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Barely Legal's Sam Carner and Derek Gregor Pick Best Breakout Performances

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15 Aug 2014

Sam Carner and Derek Gregor's sixth annual Barely Legal Show-Tune Extravaganza, featuring college students discovered through breakout performances, will be held Aug. 21 at 54 Below. In anticipation of the evening, Carner and Gregor pick their favorite breakout performances as part of this week's Playbill Playlist

The 7 PM and 9:30 PM concerts will be hosted by Natalie Weiss (Everyday Rapture), who — alongside Tituss Burgess (Little Mermaid, Jersey Boys) and casting director and producer Michael Cassara — led this year's panel of judges who chose this year's cast based on video submissions and workshop sessions at Indiana University.

Judges also included composer and music director Will Van Dyke (Kinky Boots), casting director Jason Najjoum (Prospect Theater Company), agent Samantha Stoller (Abrams Artists) and director-choreographer Emily Maltby (The Lion, Under My Skin).

The 2014 Barely Legal cast includes Hannah Zazzaro (University of Cincinnati- College Conservatory of Music), Kyle Segarra (University of the Arts), Tiffany Ames (Oberlin College), Morissa Trunzo (Point Park University), Daina Goldenberg (University of Washington), Lydia Hall, Zachary Stewart (formerly of Indiana University), Mia Fitzgibbon (Indiana University), Kayla Eilers (Indiana University), Nat Zegree (Indiana University) and Emily Schultheis (Indiana University).

"We had a fantastic pool of applicants this year and could certainly have cast the show several times over," said Carner in a statement. "Out of that pool, the judges have selected a super-talented, wonderfully varied (and multi-national) group of young performers for this year's show. We can't wait to introduce these fantastic new voices to New York City — and vice-versa."

Carner and Gregor are the authors of Unlock'd, seen at Off-Broadway's Prospect Theater Company last summer; Island Song; and the short children's piece Love, Splat. Read more about the songwriters in Playbill.com's Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know.

This year, produced by Bandits Roost Entertainment, Barely Legal introduces a new component to the show — workshops and classes. In addition to pairing the students with Carner and Gregor and producers from the Bandits Roost team, the workshops and classes will introduce students to Broadway stars, casting directors, agents, actors, teachers and more.

54 Below is located at 254 W. 54th Street. For more information on Barely Legal, visit CandGBarelyLegal.com or CandGBarelyLegal.com/Contest. For tickets, visit 54Below.com.

Bobby Steggert as Younger Brother in Ragtime. We were completely charmed by Bobby's performance in 110 in the Shade and then in the Gallery Players' production of Yank. We were then fortunate enough to work with him on some concerts, including our first ever Barely Legal Show-Tune Extravaganza, and he did such beautiful work. In 2010, he got the even broader recognition he so deserved for his gorgeous and impassioned performance as Younger Brother in Ragtime.

 

Danielle Wade on CBC's "Over the Rainbow" — and then as Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Wizard of Oz. We had the chance to work with Danielle in a one-day workshop at the University of Windsor and were so impressed by her remarkable emotional availability and ability to communicate as a performer — as well as her voice. She joined us a few months later as a performer in the 2012 Barely Legal Show-Tune Extravaganza, where she debuted our song "New York, Do You Care," but a few months after that, she became a national star in Canada with her semi-weekly appearances on the Canadian Broadcast Company's "Over the Rainbow" TV show to cast Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Toronto production (and then tour) of The Wizard of Oz. Danielle performed a wide variety of material and ultimately won, going on to play Dorothy for the next year-and-a-half.

Anna Kendrick as Dinah Lord in High Society. Sam here. The first time I ever saw Anna Kendrick perform was over 20 years ago in a community theatre production of Gypsy in Biddeford, Maine. I was a kid, and she must have been about seven or eight. I remember seeing her say, "Hello everybody, my name's June. What's yours?" and thinking to myself, "Wow! That's a star!" A couple years later, I started writing musicals and cast her in several readings and little performances we were doing around the Portland, Maine, area, and she was, of course, riveting. It wasn't long before she got her first big break as Dinah Lord in High Society (a Tony-nominated performance!), and everyone started to learn how engaging she is.

Anthony Rapp as Mark in Rent. Derek here. Rent changed my life as a composer, opening up whole new possibilities of how shows can sound. And the person who communicated so much of that to the world was Anthony Rapp, delivering one of the most iconic and novel performances of our time as Mark. It was a remarkable honor to get to work with Anthony last year on a short musical film I composed music for called "Grind," and I got to know even more intimately how remarkable his musical and dramatic instincts are.

Jeremy Jordan as Clyde in Bonnie & Clyde… or Jack Kelly in Newsies. 
We first saw Jeremy in a reading in 2009 when he was just recently out of college and knew instantly that he was an amazing talent. We promptly asked him to come by our studio to sing through some cabaret songs we had just started writing and learned even more fully what a true professional he is (one the best sight-readers in the business), what a remarkable communicator and smart performer he is, and — my God — what a voice! He's a star in every sense of the word. We were lucky enough to get him to perform in our first ever concert, and he debuted two of our songs that are most performed today, "Stay Awhile" and "Wall Lovin'." The Broadway world really got to know the scope of his prodigious talent, though, with his 2011-12 season performances as Clyde Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde and his Tony-nominated Jack Kelly in Newsies.

Judy Holliday as Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday. Sam here. Although she sadly passed away much too young (and well before my birth), two of Judy Holliday's most significant Broadway performances are preserved on film. I fell in love with her goofy, hilarious and incredibly vulnerable performance as Ella in Bells Are Ringing. But the role that first put her on the map was Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday. The original Billie, who played the part out of town had to leave the show, and a very young Judy Holliday took the role on for the Broadway production. She went on to star in the 1950 film adaptation, winning an Academy Award, another brilliantly quirky and open performance.

John Tartaglia and Stephanie D'Abruzzo in Avenue Q. What fantastic performances in an incredibly original work. Watching John and Stephanie in Avenue Q was such a unique and memorable experience – they communicated both as themselves and as the puppets, all the while still managing to enhance one another's performances. Two well-deserved Tony nominations.

Mandy Patinkin as Che in Evita. There had never been anyone like Mandy Patinkin before, and when he caught the world's attention (and a Tony Award!) with his performance as Che in Evita, his unbelievable tenor changed the direction of musical theatre. That recording is still one of our favorites and a true master class in performance.

Nikki M. James as Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon. While Nikki M. James had multiple amazing roles in shows like The Wiz and All Shook Up, her performance as Nabulungi in Book of Mormon was brilliant, subtle and hilarious – truly certifying her as a Broadway Star.

Audra McDonald as Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel. Audra McDonald came on the scene – to us, at least – with perfect poise and humor in Lincoln Center's 1994 production of Carousel as Carrie Pipperidge. A very unique and lovely take on the character. She would then go on to take Broadway by storm with Ragtime (and numerous subsequent Tony Award-winning performances!), but we will always remember her as Carrie.

Marissa Jaret Winokur in Hairspray. When debuting in Hairspray, Marrisa Jaret Winokur blew us away. It was unusual to see someone so confident, engaging, funny and amazingly talented make a role their own so quickly and effectively, and steal the show. She broke the mold – and changed the conversation regarding what a leading lady can and cannot be.

John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. We got to know John as a baritone, when he played the role of the quirky and lovelorn gnome Barney in an early reading of our musical Unlock'd. The world got to know him as a countertenor in his iconic performance (and Broadway debut) as Frankie Valli!