Tahoe’s brightest stars hope to shine in contest | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe’s brightest stars hope to shine in contest

Amanda Fehd
Stan Bautista / Special to the Tribune Performers pose for a photo Tuesday for this weekend's Tahoe Superstar competition at the Valhalla Boathouse Theater. From left: Michelle Sennings, Vanessa Parez, Emily Hammer, Carol Lugo, Peter Arcuri and Gwen Diaz.

The gang down at the Valhalla Arts and Music Festival are on a mission to bring out the best talent in Tahoe with the first Tahoe Superstar competition. The show, for singers only, will take place over two days this weekend at the Valhalla Boathouse Theater.

For a few weeks, festival organizers have been advertising for contestants, taking calls and perusing through dozens of performance resumes to reap the cream of the crop. They hope it will become Tahoe’s own version of “American Idol.”

The 20 contestants include former Broadway singers, local performance favorites, and even a South Tahoe High School student who has sung the national anthem for two Giants games.

“I was really excited (to hear about the competition) because I’ve been waiting for something like this,” said Bekka Days, 17. Days has been a singer all her life, and has performed and competed with various church and school groups. This is the first time she will compete on her own.

But she’s not nervous.

“I think it will be fun,” Days said. “It’s a really big opportunity for me.”

Contestants hail from all over Tahoe, range in age from 12 to 55 and claim a variety of singing and performing backgrounds.

Carol Lugo of Gardnerville joined the competition when she decided, “Hey, I’ve got nothing to lose.” Lugo is a special education teacher at Douglas High School, but sang for local rock ‘n’ roll bands in her 20s. “You gotta do it because you love it, you can’t give up what you love in life.”

Performances will include jazz, country, rhythm and blues, pop and music theater.

“It is not a talent show, it is a competition to be a superstar, to determine Tahoe’s superstar,” said Stan Bautista, Valhalla Arts and Music Festival director.

Bautista has been busy rounding up Tahoe’s own collection of judges, such as KRLT’s Justin Wright and El Dorado County Supervisor Dave Solaro.

“Tahoe’s got some great talent, we’ve been fortunate to have some of it come to the college and take part in productions there,” said judge Mark Williams, who is a full-time music performance instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College.

However, the winner will not be selected solely by the judges. The audience, which organizers hope will be about 200 people, will have a 50 percent share in choosing Tahoe’s best. The finale will be Saturday’s performances, where the winner will be picked.

And Tahoe’s Superstar won’t just go home with a winning smile. The best singer will have the chance to create a demo CD by the Emmy award-winning production company Tin Pan Alley, and a talent contract with Entertainment Plus. The winner will also have the option to star in their own show at the Boathouse Theater. They will receive a makeover from Sessions Salon and headshots by Lake Photography.

Michelle Sennings, 30, who has performed in many LTCC theater productions and whose resume includes the Sacramento Opera Chorus, will also be a contestant. To her, it’s just an opportunity to perform, have fun and support the arts community.

“I love performing in Tahoe. There’s a lot of talented people in town that don’t really have a venue where you just go and sing.”

The director of the show, also named Mark Williams, believes it will be hard to pick a winner.

“I’ve listened to all of these people sing and I wouldn’t want to be a judge because we have a lot of really good people here,” he said.

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