By this point in the selection process on America’s Got Talent, every act has impressed audiences and judges enough to earn a place on the big stage, but for some on Tuesday this week, the stage swallowed them whole. A few completely owned the stage, and soaked in their moments of gratitude and recognition forged out of years of working and clinging to a dream. Those moments make an entire season and the show itself worthwhile.
Cheer SF started off the night, and while the multigenerational spirit group may be strong on heart, they never managed to raise their game beyond the level of a halftime show at a high school football playoff, and closing pyrotechnics were all that sparkled for them. Instrumental trickery and cowboy cuteness were not enough to come through for the rockabilly band, Iron Horse, either, as larger spotlights revealed the vocal weaknesses and performance hiccups for the trio. Howie Mandel said he “wasn’t wowed” by the Mona Sampath Dance Company, who gave a hip-hop boost to Bollywood moves of Bombay Dreams, but Piers Morgan called them “miles better” than their Vegas effort, and Sharon Osbourne deemed them just right this time. Impressionist comic, Ronith, was not himself or anyone else in this week’s showing, and even Howie’s support won’t dial in the votes, I suspect. Strongman John Beatty more than proved the power of his enormous guns by flipping a car that required a crew of 30 to take offstage, but judge Piers couldn’t find the mojo, saying that kind of thing happened every night in certain neighborhoods! Hannibal Means sang from The Lion King, festooned in his own costuming, with dancers wearing his crocheted hats. I dare say not many male leads on Broadway can match that. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the voice and persona are powerful to say the least! The street dancers, Wreckless, gave a circus show in their high-powered routine, and the prayer and passion is still palpable in every step. Lil Chris has got talent and a future in performing for sure, but the big stage is overpowering for a 12-year-old, and the years ahead will only make him better!
Alice Tan Ridley spoke of her 20 years of singing on the subway platforms to support her family before taking the stage Tuesday, declaring that it was her turn to ” come out and see the sun”. Strutting and shimmering in her black sequined top and sleek red jacket, she burst into the familiar lines of Midnight Train to Georgia, improvising words here and there along the way just enough to make the song her own. Sharon Osbourne called her “the embodiment of soul”, and she is that, and more. She has the feel of Gladys Knight, mixed with Aretha Franklin soul, and tinges of pain from Mary J. Blige. There is so much she brings to song that only comes from living life, and you hear the messages learned from her journey through every line. How her voice became just another in that subway is a mystery, but there her future is no longer one. She will be walking her own red carpets very soon, with her Oscar-nominated daughter as escort. At 57, a new life is just beginning!
Rock wall climbers AscenDance captivated the audience and judges once more with a mesmerizing mix of gentle agility and incredible power, and gave a performance different than any they had done before. Fire-shooting rock star magician Antonio had none of the misfires that plagued him in Vegas, and threw in some Ozzy music for good measure! Michael Grimm topped off the night with an amazing turn on Al Green’s Tired of Being Alone, and gave witness to another star in the making. It was clear the Mississippi native wants audiences to relate more to his talent than his heartrending story, and he’s got the vocal chops to earn it. No more hiding behind his hat, he’s ready to shine, with Howie Mandel standing in line to buy his first album.
Dreams may become old, but real ones never die. Some will live on in the weeks to come!
Source America’s Got Talent telecast, July 20, 2010, NBC TV.