Three months ago, I wouldn’t have known where to find NBC in the TV guide.
I’m not much of a TV watcher and have never watched an entire season of a show on one of the major networks.
But AGT caught my attention.
You see, we got into AGT by chance when we were in the UK where they run last season’s show a year late.
I’ve also been a huge fan of Piers Morgan’s written work. He’s a very funny writer, although he also reminds me of the slightly awkward, former English private school boys I’ve encountered many times during my life.
The kids loved the show and having watched every single episode of the latest season on TV, we have many fond memories of a shared family activity and much improved dinnertime debating skills as we’ve argued for our favorites over a meal.
So when the season came to an end and the winner crowned, we decided to, as we say in England, ‘push the boat out’ and spent a week’s salary on four tickets to the show.
We didn’t regret it.
The show was held in the Paramount, Oakland, CA. Beautifully restored, it reminded me of the best theatres in London’s West End.
I am used to audiences politely applauding so when the inoffensive background musak morphed into the heavy rock AGT theme, the lightening fast switch to screams, whoops and hollers made me start.
I wouldn’t have expected it from the upper middle-aged couples and gay men that seemed to comprise most of the audience.
Make no mistake, this isn’t a slick show.
It was the first night with a pared down set and these are not seasoned performers.
Jerry Springer compered, genuinely choking up as he described his family’s arrival on American shores and the chance we all have to achieve The Dream.
He was pretty funny, too. Especially about his own show.
It was endearing, wholesome-apple-pie, American goodness.
All the acts were enthusiastically welcomed. Prince Poppycock, this being the San Francsico gig, got the biggest cheer although I suspect his reception will be repeated all over America.
They are doing 25 shows in 5 weeks, an exhausting schedule which makes me wonder how the kids, of whom there are several, will stand up.
If you are going to the show and want to be kept in the dark, stop reading NOW.
The show was opened by dance crew Studio One Young Beast Society. I am a dance fan, and could have watched and watched and watched them. They were simply awesome and deserve their own show.
Christina and Ali, the two sisters who live under the shadow of cystic fibrosis did a lovely harmony with Taylor Matthews who was much more impressive live than he was in the TV show. The girls in the audience really liked him and now I understand, too.
He has a good future ahead of him singing and songwriting.
The twelve year-old dancers, Anna and Patryk were a bit lost in the set. They are technically outstanding but the fact they are kids both added to the ‘wow’ factor and took away from it.
They do big, showy dances but the fact their bodies are small and they lack emotional breadth meant that their impact wasn’t as great as it will be in a few years. Add a few inches and a dash of hormones and they will be vibrant.
My emotional favorite from the show is Jeremy Vanschoonhoven.
The boy (as he seems to me) who lives in a barn and wants to give his wife ‘the kind of life she deserves,’ appeared on stage, his arm in a sling straight from surgery but not on his bike. He’d taken a fall during rehearsal and broken his hand.
He’d not been able to fight gravity ;-).
He was gracious, a huge favorite with the crowd for simply having the chops. Later we saw him spending a lot of time with the crowd at the back door in compensation.
I hope he makes a lot of money quickly because his career will be short at this rate.
I finally ‘got’ Fighting Gravity.
I couldn’t work out how they do it. But they did. They are an act that needs a big production to really show off. I hope they get it. Awesome.
Prince Poppycock is tall.
At least, in his heels and wig, he is. The performer who Sharon Osborne called the ‘male Lady Gaga,’ did his ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ set and a parody of ‘The Barber of Seville.’
He was great and a huge crowd pleaser but to do himself justice and give us the show we all want, he, too, needs a big production so he can really let go and have fun. He will get it. I have no doubt.
Jackie Evancho is tiny.
She was in floaty white. They put her on a box to reach the microphone so we could see her.
It is hard to believe that it is her singing. I could hear her inhale and occasionally ‘poomp’ the mike when she exhaled which convinced me that it wasn’t some recording but the dissonance between the evidence of my eyes and ears was confusing.
This little girl with this absolutely pure, soaring voice was transfixing. The audience was completely still and silent during her set – she sang two opera pieces and a song; it was stunning.
Michael Grimm got the biggest star treatment from the shows producers. He was very humble, confident and impressive. He sung three songs, ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On,’ ‘Hold On I’m Comin’ and Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together.’
Magician Michael Grasso. Was. OUTSTANDING.
My God, how did he do that? He started with his card riff, then did two illusions. It was a small set, we weren’t far away and yet none of us could work out how he did it. I’m not a huge magic fan and was watching closely for the trick but I was simply blown away.
He needs his own, big production. He was on fairly early in the show but he could have been the show stopping finale. He was ‘WOW.’
All in all, this was like your local talent show writ large.
Loads of fun, highly entertaining, slightly schmaltzy, all underpinned by the messages of diversity, tolerance and dream catching that were frequently mentioned between acts. For all-round family entertainment and a rollicking good time, it couldn’t be beaten.
All of these acts have futures and fortunes to be made.
Some have incredible lives ahead of them.
What do you think? Who were your personal favorites? Leave me a comment!
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