Teen Star 2019

By James Buckley   |   February 21, 2019
Montecito’s resilient Lauren Cantin is one of this year’s 10 finalists in the Santa Barbara Teen Star finale

I’ve been to a number of Joe Lambert‘s Teen Star competitions and the only reason I’ve missed any is because I was either out of the country or out of my mind. This show – the Teen Star Final – always presents some of the finest, or at least most enjoyable, entertainment one is likely to experience or participate in. Ten teenagers (there has been an exception, but the age group is from 13 to 18) are chosen in a year-long talent hunt from among a great number of competitors to become finalists. And, because this is Santa Barbara and Montecito, where art and talent are second nature to so many, the talent level is both first class and world class.

This year’s group features at least two Montecito kids: Lauren Cantin, the young lady who was pulled from the mud in last year’s mud-and-debris slide, in which she lost both a brother and her father, and Dawson Fuss, my backyard neighbor’s bright and talented son. Since that unfortunate and deadly day in January, 2018, Lauren has reclaimed her life in dramatic fashion. She has sung at SOhO, has joined Kenny Loggins, Katy Perry, David Foster, and Brad Paisley on stage and performed on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Fostered by Janet Adderley and her Santa Barbara Youth Ensemble Theatre, she’s also performed in musicals on stage.

Fourteen-year-old Cate School student Dawson Fuss, also a Montecito resident, is the only boy who made the cut in this year’s Teen Star final to be held at the Arlington Theatre Saturday night, February 23

Dawson is a freshman at Cate School and began his “onstage” acting career as Shrek when he was five years old. Dawson, curiously, is the only boy in this year’s contest, despite the fact that the last three winners of Teen Star were boys: Daniel Geiger (2018), Nolan Montgomery (2017), and Jackson Gillies (2016).

This year’s other finalists are Emily Cummings, Elizabeth Enderle, Julia Galloway, McKenna Gemberling, Neve Greenwald, Audrey Harmand, Sofia Schuster, and Kimberly Syers. The two alternates are Rebecca Jamgochian and Mina Kaldi.

In addition to audience voting, the three judges who’ll join emcee JJ Lambert (Joe’s son) on stage are Ben Margulies, co-writer (along with Mariah Carey) of three hit songs: “Vision of Love,” Love Takes Time,” and “Someday”; Justin Fox, lead singer of Dishwalla; and the inimitable, cheerful, and often exuberant Catherine Remak, KLITE deejay and news director, whose morning show, “Gary (Fruin) and Catherine in the Morning,” has been running for longer than, well, longer than most of us can remember.

The Teen Star Finale will be held at the Arlington Theatre on Saturday, February 23, beginning at 7 pm. Tickets cost from $25 to $40 and can be purchased at the Arlington box office. VIP sponsor tickets are still available. If you’d like to learn more about that, please contact Joe directly at: joe@teenstarusa.com.

If you decide to go, be prepared to be greatly entertained.


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