PRESQUE ISLE – Sixteen area singers received “golden tickets” last Tuesday and are now waiting to step on stage as part of Friday night’s central Aroostook Idol show.
According to Claudia Stevens, executive director of the United Way of Aroostook and member of the Idol committee, private auditions were held Feb. 3 for the first time in Aroostook Idol’s five-year history. “In the past, we’ve added a second show in Presque Isle to accommodate the large number who signed up and have also turned some great singers away because all of our slots were filled,” she said. “By holding auditions, we know that the top vocalists in central Aroostook who signed up to take part in Idol are involved and that those who pay admission to attend that show will see a top quality show.
“We ended up with over 30 people trying out,” said Stevens, “and we chose 16 to compete in the Presque Isle show. We usually cap a regional show at 15 contestants, but this year we decided to go with one extra person because sometimes we have somebody who – for whatever reason – can’t make it … they have a cold, change their mind or something comes up. We’ll have 16 who will be competing in the central Aroostook show.”
The central Aroostook Idol event will be held Friday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Presque Isle Middle School auditorium. Tickets are $8 and are available at any Key Bank branch in Aroostook County, as well as the United Way of Aroostook office in Presque Isle. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.
Stevens said the auditions went very well.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “We had a good cross section of young and old, male and female.
“I think it is harder to audition than it is to walk out there on the stage in front of an audience because you’re in such close proximity of one another, and you have all of your competition sitting there watching you. There’s a lot of pressure, but it went well,” said Stevens. “We have some great contestants, and we’re really looking forward to a good show.”
Contestants who will compete in the Presque Isle show include Lydia Abbott of Presque Isle, Jenice Jarvis of Presque Isle, Robert Helstrom of Washburn, Melissa Tilley of Blaine, Jamilynn Deschesne of Caribou, Adam Simoes of Presque Isle, Nicole Ballard of Presque Isle, Alyson Michaud of Caribou, Daniel Rooney of Presque Isle, Randolph Michaud of Mapleton, Jordan Buckley of Westfield, Lance Sullivan of Ashland, Cathy Brown of Limestone, Heather Maynard of Caribou, Lorna McGee of Fort Fairfield, and Deanna Jordan of Caribou.
This year’s three judges are former Aroostook Idol winners Renee Cavagnaro (2005) of Caribou, Samantha Boutot (2006) of Fort Kent and Annie Charles (2007) of Limestone. In her role as the 2008 Idol, Erin Buck of Caribou will perform at the upcoming production. Stevens and past emcee Jason Parent will serve as the evening’s co-hosts.
Last year’s Aroostook Idol raised about $30,000, with an additional $34,000 in in-kind donations/advertising. Local businesses also contributed $1,000 in prizes to the Idol winner.
The southern Aroostook show was held Jan. 30 in Houlton, while the northern Aroostook competition was held Feb. 6 in Fort Kent. Typically the central Aroostook show is the second of the three events, but due to a scheduling conflict, the shows had to be rearranged.
“This year’s shows are in a different order,” said Stevens. “Because of some events going on in Fort Kent, last weekend was the only weekend they were able to accommodate us at Fox Auditorium, so we ended up having to adjust the schedule. We actually ended up having the Houlton show earlier than we normally do. However, things have been going very well and ticket sales are also going well.”
Stevens said she hopes those hopefuls who didn’t make the cut will try again next year.
“Having gone through the process once before,” she said, “they’ll have even that much more confidence.”
As is Aroostook Idol tradition, the top three contestants at each of the regional shows – as determined by audience vote – will move forward to the March 1 finale to compete against other regional winners for the title. Over the past three years, the finale show has been a sellout, filling all 825 seats at the Caribou Performing Arts Center.
All proceeds from the annual project benefit United Way of Aroostook supported agencies and programs throughout the county.
For more information on the Aroostook Idol competition, contact the United Way of Aroostook at (207) 764-5197.