Big Time Productions, in conjunction with The Post-Journal, will present the third annual Chautauqua's Got Talent competition, beginning Monday, Feb. 27. The winning act will receive at least $500 cash, a website, a promotional press kit and more.
Before the contest can lift off, judges must determine this year's contestants, who will audition at The Spire of Jamestown on Wednesday, Jan. 25, or online via video.
Event organizer Angelo Giuffre, of Big Time Productions, hopes to see a diversity in auditioning acts.
Julie Cotter, right, was named the winner of the second annual Chautauqua’s Got Talent by host Angelo Giuffre at the culmination of the 2011 competition in the Arena Club at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena last spring. The third annual competition will kick off with auditions on Jan. 25 at the Spire Theater.
P-J file photo by Dave Emke
"There's no age limit," he said. "All different ages and walks of life and all different kinds of performers come. It's a really fun contest to watch."
In 2010 and 2011, auditioning acts ranged from age 9 to age 60. Performing acts have featured singers, instrumentalists, comedians and dance troupes. According to Giuffre, the dance troupes, featuring as many as 16 members on stage, have highlighted Chautauqua's Got Talent in years past, along with the wide range of vocalists. Singers Shannon Nixon and Julie Cotter won Chautauqua's Got Talent in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
Judges plan to accept between 10 and 20 acts into the contest, depending on the levels of talent presented at the audition. Giuffre expects 13 or 14 will compete on the opening night.
"One thing I'd like to see this year is a full band: a rock 'n' roll band, a jazz band, a string quartet or maybe bagpipes. We haven't seen any of that yet," Giuffre said, adding he hopes magicians and jugglers will also try out for the first time. "The first year was really exciting because we hadn't done it before. We didn't expect anybody to audition. Then, all these great and talented performers came. The second year it was the same thing. You never know who's out there."
Past contestants can audition to compete once again.
The Jan. 25 audition will begin at 5:30 p.m. Pre-registration is not required. However, those who email firstname.lastname@example.org requesting pre-registration won't have to wait to perform on audition night.
For the first time, the production team will accept video auditions, which can be sent to email@example.com with a present or past performance video link or attachment.
Organizers created the new audition method for those who cannot make it to The Spire, located in the former First Congregational Church Building on Third Street, on audition night and for those who don't feel comfortable performing in front of judges.
"I've never had stage fright, but one thing I don't really like is having people take notes while I'm performing," said Giuffre, who competed in the inaugural Chautauqua Lake Idol. "Some people might not want to go through that. They know that for the first audition, it's up to the judges."
Judges will decide who takes part in the competition and nothing more. Audiences will decide who makes the subsequent cuts.
For example, if 12 acts perform on opening night Feb. 27, audience members will score them on a 12-point scale. The best performer, in each attendee's mind, will receive 12 points, while the worst performer will receive one point. In the event of 10 contestants, the best performer would receive 10 points, while the worst performer would still receive one point. For an attendee's vote to count, he or she must give each act a score and cannot assign any number twice in one week.
A panel of judges will offer constructive criticism following each performance but will not vote.
"It's a lot of work, but we think it's the fairest way. We want the general public to decide. No voting system is going to completely eliminate the popularity aspect, but this tips the scales to make everything a little more fair," Giuffre said. "The judges are there to simply offer advice to the contestants. It makes it a little more interesting to hear what the judges have to say."
Organizers have yet to finalize this year's panel. However, the list will include veteran area performers and directors. Local radio personality Matt Warren, a former Chautauqua's Got Talent judge, will host the third annual contest.
"He's a great stage personality," Giuffre said. "I think it will be very nice for the contestants to have him standing up there while they're getting judged. He has been a judge before, and he's really just a warm-hearted guy."
Each stage of Chautauqua's Got Talent will take place at The Spire on Mondays from Feb. 27 through March 26.
The audition and weekly competition results will be printed in The Post-Journal.
Giuffre expects stiff competition for this year's contest.
"I believe that Jamestown and the Chautauqua County area have plenty of talent to offer," he said. "We have so many really talented singers and musicians."