RISING STARS: Blake Brundy (left) and Kat Monzon made the final round of
the 2015 Jerry Herman Awards at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.

In just the second year that Santa Barbara and Ventura contestants have been traveling to the Jerry Herman Awards at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, both winners of the High School Musical competition held here at the New Vic and sponsored by The Independent made the finals in Los Angeles. Blake Brundy of Lompoc High School and Kat Monzon of Ventura were among the eight performers chosen out of a field of 46 who were invited to sing solos onstage in front of thousands of Los Angeles musical theater buffs.

Monzon sang “On My Own” from Les Misérables and Brundy sang “I Don’t Care Much” from Cabaret in a dazzling finals sing-off that was eventually won by Julia McDermott from Mira Costa High School and Joshua Velez of HArts Academy. The two winners from Los Angeles will continue on to the Jimmy Awards in New York City at the end of June, where they will compete on Broadway for the National High School Musical Theater Award for Best Leading Actor/Actress.

For Brundy, whose qualifying role was Tarzan in Lompoc High’s production of Tarzan: The Musical, the chance to sing in front of an audience packed with Hollywood and Broadway professionals was just the opportunity he had been working for ever since he began performing. Ventura’s Monzon, who attends the Los Angeles County High School for the Performing Arts, was perhaps more familiar with the scene, but no less thrilled to have made it into the finals. After the show, she wrote, “Last night was incredible. Being chosen as one of the top finalists to perform ‘On My Own’ as a solo on the Pantages stage was truly a dream come true. Singing for Kenny Ortega and so many other professionals in the audience was just insane. Ahhh I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

For the team that produced the National High School Musical Awards of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, the duo’s showing confirmed the impression that our top talent is ready to go all the way. Congratulations, Blake and Kat!


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