BYU’s Got Talent introduces authentic acts

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Theron Christensen flashed his white glove before the crowd one last time. He looked down at the judges, wondering if his short magic act was enough, not just for them, but for the real indicator: the decibel meter.

Christensen’s anticipation will plague the hearts of many other performers as they take the stage in this semester’s BYU’s Got Talent. This is the first of three preliminary shows that will take place before the culminating finale held in December. It consists of 10–12 performers, from which three are chosen to move on to the final show.

Ryan Echols uses an accordion that doubles as a family heirloom in this semester's BYU's Got Talent. (Photo by Kayla Echols)
Ryan Echols plays his accordion, a family heirloom, in this semester’s BYU’s Got Talent. (Kayla Echols)

The contestants have five minutes to impress both the audience and the judges. Only one of those finalists, however, is hand-picked by the panel of judges; a decibel meter decides the fate of the other two. This device measures the level of sound as the crowd applauds. That way the audience gets to participate and have a say in who they think deserves to move on. The judges still get to save one contestant though, someone they think stands out from the other performers.

“We look for whether they can engage the crowd and if they are both talented and entertaining,” said Christensen, a past contestant and this year’s judge.

The show itself is very interactive, held in a relatively small venue with an intimate setting. The MCs sometimes even go so far as to throw t-shirts into the crowd or give away candy, making the intervals more exciting. The combination of fun crowd participation and surprising talent makes this an interesting event outside of the norm here on campus.

“Those who have crazy, unusual talent, we want them to perform,” Student Activities Board member Elyse Yerman said.

In years past the show has had various participants ranging from poets and magicians to rock bands and singers. Last year the crowd was especially shocked when one of the contestants came out juggling knives and another created a beat-boxing harmonica routine.

“It’s fresh when there’s something new,” Christensen said.

This year the Student Activities Board expects to find just as much variety. Some of the standard musical contestants are on the list, but performers like a baton twirler and an accordion player add a dose of originality to the upcoming show.

“We always have pretty incredible musical performances,” Yerman said, “but we’ve never had an accordion player before.”

Seventeen-year-old Ryan Echols took up accordion playing when he found his late grandfather’s accordion sitting in his grandmother’s basement.

“What I like to do with my accordion performances is to play a song that everyone recognizes but play it in a style much unlike how they’ve always heard the song,” Echols said.

In addition to Echols, students can expect to see similar quirky acts at this semester’s show, held Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Wilkinson Center’s Varsity Theater.

 

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