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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Retired Teacher Recalls ‘The Voice’ Winner

By Jonathan Turner

The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, Moline, Ill.

Like many people who watched Alisan Porter win NBC’s “The Voice” Tuesday night, Judy Luster wasn’t surprised. The retired Moline, Ill. teacher directed Ms. Porter in high-school musicals in Connecticut in 1996-97.

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Retired teacher Judy Luster with her theater memorabilia at her Moline, Ill. home. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jacob .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

“It was impossible to believe she would grow because she was already so good,” Ms. Luster said. “She’s a triple threat—actor, singer and dancer.”

Ms. Porter, now 34 and a mother of two, was 5 when she became the youngest “Star Search” participant to win that competition. When she was 10, she played the title role in the 1991 John Hughes movie, “Curly Sue.”

Ms. Luster said the first time she saw her former student on stage was when Ms. Porter was a freshman at Staples High School in Westport, Conn., and portrayed Anita in “West Side Story.” “She blew everybody away.”

The next year, the English, speech and drama teacher took over as director of the Staples Players, and led productions of the musicals “Runaways” and “Cinderella.” Ms. Porter played the lead in “Cinderella” her senior year.

“She really seemed to get the best out of everybody else. Her energy rubbed off on everybody,” Ms. Luster said. “She inspired others.”

Before graduating, Ms. Porter moved to New York to audition for Broadway shows. She was cast in the 1998 musical “Footloose,” and the 2006 Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line.”

Ms. Luster, a Moline High alum who taught 35 years in Connecticut before returning to the Quad-Cities area in 2003, went back to teach a semester in Westport in 2007, and saw Ms. Porter sing in a benefit for the school arts program.

“She just gave me goosebumps; she just blew me away,” she said.

Ms. Luster said she watched “The Voice” every week since Ms. Porter’s blind audition on Feb. 29, when she sang “Blue Bayou,” and all four judges turned around and wanted to be her coach.

Christina Aguilera was her coach, and Tuesday, the two performed “You’ve Got a Friend” as a duet.

“That was amazing. I’ve always loved that song, and she brought it to another level,” Ms. Luster said, adding that she also loved Ms. Porter’s rendition of “Somewhere,” from “West Side Story.”

Ms. Luster toasted Ms. Porter’s TV win on Facebook with the retired choral director from Staples High, who also was watching.

As part of her win, Ms. Porter earned a record deal. Ms. Luster predicts a bright future for her.

“I can’t imagine it’s anything but stellar,” she said. “She’s gonna be on every talk show. I know that Westport is hoping she’ll come back to do another benefit.”

Reprinted with permission


Posted 05/26/16 at 10:50 AM  Permalink


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