By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
America’s Got Talent (AGT) made its first stop in Kansas City in 11 years on its audition tour. Hopefuls packed into the Kansas City Convention Center for a chance to win $1,000,000 and an opportunity to headline their own Las Vegas show.
“The America’s Got Talent auditions is like throwing a party,” said AGT executive producer Jason Raff. “You are not sure who’s going to show up, and we will see what we get today.”
AGT representatives told Jake’s Take that 1,096 acts auditioned in Kansas City for a chance to perform in front of America.
At each city’s open cattle call, show producers have accumulated a list of attributes that they look for in performers hoping to join alums Terry Fator, Barbara Padilla, Jackie Evancho, Fighting Gravity, Tom Cotter, Kenichi Ebina, Emily West and Oz Pearlman in the America’s Got Talent finalists club.
“We are looking for the people who stand out in the crowd. We are looking for acts which give us goose bumps,” Raff said. “In a couple of weeks, they could be performing in front of our judges and be seen by millions of people.”
“There is so much talent within Kansas City that is unique and not often found, even though we are in the Heartland of the country,” said Shannon O’Shea, a member of Bluegrass trio Julian Davis & the Hay-Burners. “they often miss us, but now they are finally checking our town out!”
For longtime fan, comedian Andrew Thomas, this was his chance to not only put a win in the comedy category but to also fulfill a lifelong dream.
“While I would very much like to break the comedians’ losing streak,” said Thomas. “My main goal is to make America smile and make them share a laugh or two.”
Other hopefuls like singer-songwriter Taylor Adkison had family members encourage their loved ones to audition for the NBC talent competition.
“I spent a few years playing in local bars, and my family finally roped me down and told me to audition for the show.” Said Adkison. “I hope that (my career) can go any further than playing at open bars and in my basement.”
Meanwhile, Kansas City-based singer Zack Kaltenbach not only shared in Adkison’s dream but also wanted to be judged by the man responsible for creating the Got Talent phenomenon.
“I came to audition because I want to win the million-dollar cash prize,” said Kaltenbach. “Besides, I also want to audition in front of Simon Cowell.”
For the first time in the AGT history, longtime series executive producer and music mogul Simon Cowell will join returning judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B at the AGT judges’ desk this season.
“He has a good eye for talent,” Raff said. “Simon has found some pretty good talent over the years, and we are very excited to have him join the show.”
In addition to Cowell joining the panel, Jake’s Take can exclusively reveal the return of a game-changing feature that has made an impact on the Got Talent franchise.
“We are very excited to reveal that the Golden Buzzer will be back,” Raff said. “The judges will each have a chance to press that button for one act throughout the auditions.”
Since its inception on Germany’s Got Talent, the Golden Buzzer has helped numerous acts around the globe not only achieve instant recognition amongst the global Got Talent fan base, but also sent them directly to their respective series’ Live Semi-Finals. During AGT’s tenth anniversary season, four Golden Buzzer acts including Season 10 winner ventriloquist Paul Zerdin and first runner-up comedian Drew Lynch made it to the season finale. But to receive the Golden Buzzer, hopefuls must impress the judges and in the contestant holding area, many of the acts were already trying narrow down who would be the easiest judge to astonish with their talent.
“I think Mel B would probably be the easiest judge to impress,” Kaltenbach said. “Plus, she is the sweetest person on the panel.”
Other hopefuls wished that AGT mainstay Howie Mandel would become their champion if they made it to face the judges.
“While I do not think Howie is going to be a softie,” Adkison said. “he might be the easiest judge to win over.”
Meanwhile, Shannon O’Shea’s fellow band mate, Julian Davis, hoped that the Got Talent creator would be blown away by their act.
“If we make it past the producers, I think Simon would be the easiest judge to impress.” Said Davis. “I think he wants to find musicians who are quirky.”
As America’s Got Talent winds down its Season 11 audition tour, hopefuls that are still interested in facing Simon, Heidi, Howie and Mel B can head to Atlanta (January 30), Los Angeles (February 6), Orlando (February 19) and Dallas (February 27). If you cannot make it to any city, do not fret, the show will hold its next YouNow Live audition event on January 27.
“If you cannot make it to an open call, there is nothing wrong with sending a video of your act,” Raff said. “Show us something that we (the producers) have to put in front of those judges, for them to react to!”
“America’s Got Talent” will return to NBC this summer!
To view some of the action from the Kansas City auditions, visit my Facebook page.