Say what you will, but Tuesday’s America’s Got Talent this week was anything but boring! Orlando’s second shift of auditions started as Frankie Elliston demonstrated what he called “string passage”, presenting a skill I’ve never seen on any talent show or the Food Network! Act after act flew on through the judges to Vegas, from a young Brittany Spears’ look alike magic duo, the South Philly Vikings looking like human Transformer versions with their robotic, high-energy dance moves, to a knife-throwing comic who got the crowd giggling while he made host Nick Cannon his trembling target. Yoga lessons paid off for Erin, who painted an American flag with her thighs, and impressed judges enough for another chance, so let’s hope she’s not a one-trick pony. A hopelessly abdomen unready striptease dancer, Fofo, was rife for Piers Morgan’s summation that he had once and for all proved he was ” America’s smallest talent” in an unforgivably tight throng as he left the stage!
There have been a gaggle of acts this season channeling Amadeus, and onto the stage came Simeon Mulder to join them, but the 16-year-old’s wizardry make you forget he was playing a tiny keyboard instead of a Steinway, and his disarming humor, joking that his attire was ” how I dress at school” completely endeared him to the judges and the audience. Studio One Young Beast Society– what a name, love it-strutted their dance chops, but the evening proved less than enchanted for 72-year-old Efim, who had to be reminded by every backstage staff he saw and Nick Cannon’s efforts at Guesstures before he realized he wasn’t going to the Strip! Harmonik, a transplanted group of young Haitians, won the audience just by taking the stage after their profile detailed their struggle even to find instruments, much less play them. Their rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was pure, understated beauty, and their dream to “take the money back to our country” could very well come true.
The Orlando stage closed with Sponjetta Parrish performing her own jam, “In My Studio”. This girl thought she had it all. Her song, however, had just the one line, indelibly implanted into the judges’ memories, meaning she herself would not be so memorable!
Howie Mandel was eager to uncover the talent of Oregon, where even a town is called Talent, but instead ” a weirdness” as he called it, clouded the auditions. From the dozens disobedient Chihuahuas of Tiny Talents, the Living Dead Girls, grotesque Bloody Maggie, a woefully singing and swinging trapeze artist, and an Oriental mask act, Magique Bazaar, whose tumble from the stage was much more memorable than their talents, these acts could not get it together! Until Jeremy Von Schoonover rode onto the stage in his mountain bike all the way from the town of Talent, Portland’s promise seemed lost, but the young man stupefied everyone with his trial riding and daredevil maneuvers. He scaled 10-foot cubes from the floor as though they were baby’s alphabet blocks, and landed fully mounted! Bhangra Empire continued in the Slumdog Millionaire tribute tradition, and danced through to Vegas. The vocal couple, The Strange Familiar, definitely demonstrated something for the judges, and embraced the tone of the night in their name. The Northwest Dance and Acro Company sailed clear, too. Airpocalypse was an air band that could, according to the judges, even stealing from Sharon Osbourne’s rocking hubby in their routine. I didn’t feel they earned the vote. They didn’t do anything different from what millions of teenagers and dreamers do in front of bedroom mirrors every night just because they were entertaining. Time will tell if they have the stuff to build a two-hour stage show. It was all X’s for Rebecca Roudman’s rock cello routine, leaving the judges ready for respite.
Connor Doran described how his indoor kite flying helped him cope with epilepsy in his bio footage before taking the stage, describing how he can’t be stopped as he takes flight though his kite mastery. Every disabled person seeks an outlet that lets him or her free themselves from the confinement imposed by condition, and to see the joy and release from that expression is a lasting blessing. Doran’s display was moving and even spellbinding in moments, and it was moving to see judge Howie Mandel convey the emotion of the performance before giving his positive vote and sending Connor from the stage with a huge grin, saying “No X’s, Mom,” as they embraced. Moments of no X’s do not come often for those of us with challenges. Great going, Connor!
William Scott Anderson came to the show’s stage just a month after getting back from Afghanistan, but you would have thought that he had spent years polishing his illusions as he wielded swords while evoking American pride in his drabs! I predict this veteran, a medical evacuation pilot, will go deep. He’s got something special, and the spark of his act is there without any glittering lights!
Retired teacher Sally Cohn pushed her walker onto the stage, lubed up her hands with saliva and lip balm, and hand-whistled her way into the judges’ hearts! Her spunk superimposed her unique talents, and she even managed to sell her book to Howie Mandel on the spot for $12! Asking, “Is that it, then?” 75-year-old Sally left the judges grinning as she exited her coming out party onstage!
America’s Got Talent telecast, June 22, 2010.