Imperial Theatre hosts auditions for Showtime at the Apollo

By: Diane Cho
By: Diane Cho

July 30, 2006

Some talented locals showed their stuff in downtown Augusta Sunday, July 30, hoping to make an impression on some big time judges.

It's the show where "stars are born and legends are made."

Big names like Ella Fitzgerald and Augusta's legendary James Brown have all come out of the Apollo Theatre.

On their nationwide search for their next big act, judges made a stop in Augusta.

Before there was "American Idol", it was "Showtime at the Apollo."

"Apollo has been on for 73 years and on TV for more than 20," said Apollo judge Vanessa Brown-Rogers. "It's the first to create a talent show involving the audience."

"I used to watch and see dancers up there and say, 'Man, I wish I could'," said audition hopeful Ansley Jones. "I know I'd never get the chance to go somewhere, so it was cool it's down here now."

Ansley and her dance partner, Craig, were only one of an elite four chosen so far.

"They told us to make ourselves available for the last two weekends in September so we could perform for amateur night," she said.

Hundreds of talented hopefuls lined up outside the Imperial Theatre for hours for their 90 seconds in the spotlight.

"I practiced a couple times, but I'm not going to wear myself out so I won't be nervous when I get up there," hopeful Bianca McGhee said.

From singers to off the wall moves and comedians who laugh at their own jokes, judges are looking for one skill.

"Our show is based on audience participation," Brown-Rogers said. "If you can't get three of us to believe you, then you can't get 1500 people to believe you on live TV."

And it's that very same conviction that helped Ansley make it to the finals.

"People are afraid that if you put too much in it, it won't do anything for your life," she said. "I wasn't allowed to take dance classes until I left for college."

Now she says she'll never miss another beat.

Those who were selected to move on will fly to New York in September to start taping for the show that hits the air in October.

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