Arts & Entertainment

South Plainfield’s Own Natasha Kurilew Hoping to Be Named 2016’s Fearless Icon

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Natasha Kurilew is one of five finalists competing Dec. 11 in the 2016 Fearless Icon finals. Credits: KP Expressions
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SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – South Plainfield’s own Natasha Kurilew, for the second consecutive year, has been named one of the final five in the Fearless Icon competition. On Dec. 11, she will take to Union County Performing Arts Center’s (UCPAC) Main Stage in the hopes of winning the singing contest along with a cash prize and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have her dream show produced.

“Expect to be blown away. I'm still floored with my competition,” said Kurilew of the four talented singers she will go up against on Sunday. “They each have earned their place and I'm humbled to have been selected alongside such professional, talented performers.”

Currently in its third year, Fearless Icon – presented by UCPAC in association with Fearless Productions and RSI Bank – is the battle of the best musical theater voices in the state. Described as a cross between American Idol, The Voice and X-Factor, the competition featured auditions throughout the state with the 100 best voices from New Jersey battling it out over a series of weekly elimination rounds with judges and the audience selecting two contestants each week to go on to compete in the semifinals.

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On Nov. 27, the ‘sweet sixteen’ semifinalists – Kurilew, included – took to UCPAC’s Irving Street stage in the hopes of winning one five spots in Dec. 11 finals. Impressing celebrity guest judge and actor/director Richard Kline with her fierce mix of rock/theater talent, Kurilew garnered her second appearance in the finals in as many years.

“It was my first time competing in any kind of theatrical competition and I was absolutely terrified to sing with real theater people,” said Kurilew of last year’s competition in which she made it to the top three. “I did not expect to get as far as I did.”

This time around, Kurilew, who will perform two different songs in Sunday’s finals, said things feel ‘familiar but exciting and new at the same time.’ “I’ve been working hard to bring a side of me that I haven't really gotten to show on stage and I'm nervous but, at the same time, so ready,” she said.

In addition to bragging rights, the winner of this year’s Fearless Icon competition will also take home a $2,500 cash prize compliments of RSI Bank and have the opportunity to produce and star in their dream production compliments of Fearless Productions and UCPAC. Although she cannot say what theatrical production she would select, Kurilew said Rent will always be her ‘personal favorite.’

Growing up, Kurilew said she was ‘always singing something or talking way too much.’ “I loved to put on a show and loved an audience no matter who or how many,” she said.

During high school, Kurilew performed the National Anthem at wrestling matches and starred in school musicals each year, even landing the lead of ‘Reno Sweeney’ in Anything Goes during her senior year. Additionally, she was a member of the high school chorus.

“I think those were my best and favorite performances,” Kurilew said of her years with the chorus. “There really was no where else for me to be as comfortable singing my style of music and with a teacher who just got me …I cut way too many classes just so I could lock myself up in the chorus room and sing it all out!”

A few years ago, Kurilew competed in and won a local karaoke contest held at the Fox & Hound in Menlo Park Mall. “It was the real deal - dress up, sing and get the crowd into it kind of thing. We had judges and major cash prizes. I may have sang the biggest song from Dreamgirls and I may have rained on more than a few parades,” she said, adding that what began as a ‘dream’ has since grown into something more.  

“Performing is my life, whether I end up on Broadway or off- Broadway or on Irving Street. I love performing and making people feel something. That makes me really happy,” Kurilew said.

These days, Kurilew works full time as a sonographer while also running the ‘WE are South Plainfield!’ Facebook page. However, should the opportunity arise, she wouldn't turn down a career in theater.

 “I would quit my job in a heartbeat if someone told me I was heading to Broadway to sing with Idina Menzel...” she said, adding, “I'm probably going to get called into the office at work after my boss reads this.”

In addition to Kurilew, the Dec. 11 Fearless Icon final will feature Kyle Javon, 17-year-old Vanessa Sierra, Craig Tiede, and 2015 semifinalist Timothy Walton. This year’s judges include Kline along with Khy Garner (director/music director), Elizabeth Ward Land (actress/singer), and Patrick Starega (director/choreographer). Bruce De La Cruz serves as music director with a production team that includes Tim James, Bree Guell, Josh Cote and Tim Chavis.

“Fearless Icon has become about so much more than the competition. It has slowly become an artistic invitational. Not only does it highlight some of the very best voices in New Jersey but it rallies an entire community around a celebration of musical theater,” said Brian Remo, executive director at UCPAC. “This year's semifinals was truly stacked with talent and the finals will truly be a memorable event.

The UCPAC Main Stage is located at 1601 Irving Street in Rahway and the Dec. 11 contest will begin at 7 p.m. with a new Fearless Icon crowed at the end of the evening. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Union County Performing Arts Center box office at (732) 499-8226 or visit boxoffice@ucpac.org. Additional information is also available by searching ‘Fearless Productions’ and ‘FEARLESS ICON: The Finals!!!’ on Facebook.

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