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America’s Got Talent’ to search for best acts in Columbus

Courtesy of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Most fans of “America’s Got Talent” tend to watch the auditions unfold from the comfort of their couches. But this weekend, Columbus fans have the chance to get up close and personal with the show.
The glamour of performing for the judges of the NBC talent-search show hits the road prior to each season in search of new acts and performers, and this season’s panel of producers is set to come to Columbus.
Auditions for “America’s Got Talent” are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, beginning at 8 a.m. both days.
Executive producer Jason Raff said while the show has never held auditions in Columbus before, coming to the city this year just made sense.
“We’ve never been to Ohio,” Raff said. “We just kind of thought Columbus is the center of everything there and that people would come from different areas to there so that’s why we picked it.”
While all acts have the opportunity to show off their talents for the producers, not all go on to perform for the show’s judges.
“We’ve already seen thousands of acts,” Raff said. “Anyone who shows up is guaranteed to be seen, and we try to find the most talented, interesting people to put in front of the judges at some point this spring.”
He said from there the judges determine the fate of the contestants.
While many talent shows feature singers as the most frequent winners, Raff said unusual acts have the chance to stand out on “America’s Got Talent.”
“Last year we didn’t have one singing act that was at the top in the finals,” Raff said. “Last year we had a dog act win and a comedian come in second.”
He mentioned that last season featured acts such as a fast-painter and a sand artist.
“That is the one great thing about our show, the one thing that keeps me coming back is that it’s never boring. We are the only show that’s open to any age and any talent,” Raff said. “I love that we’re open to anything and everything.”
Raff said the producers love seeing college students, because while they often go to school for a certain area of study, they have other interests that might not be related to school that he gets to see them pursue onstage.
One Ohio State student who said he would consider auditioning is Jack Wilbur, a first-year in mechanical engineering.
“I would (consider auditioning) for the experience,” Wilbur said. “It would be a fun experience, especially in front of all those people. It would be kind of nerve-wracking at the same time, but I think overall I probably would.”
Emmanuel Dzotsi, a second-year in political science, also said he had some interest in auditioning.
“I probably would consider it,” Dzotsi said. “It’s one of those things that I probably need to be confident to do it, but I mean, you’ve got nothing to lose and you never know.”
Not all students are equally excited about the auditions, though.
“I probably wouldn’t audition,” said Elizabeth Baker, a fourth-year in accounting. “I don’t have any special talents.”
When considering whether or not to audition, Raff had a suggestion: “Just do it. Try it.”
“It’s a pretty good experience,” Raff said. “We’re nice people, the producers, you meet a lot of people in the holding room while you’re waiting, so you just try it because I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s not every day that you get to audition for a national TV show.”
He also stressed the importance of standing out from the crowd with the audition, with everything from wardrobe choice to stage presence when entering the room.
“The auditions are partially your talent, but it’s also your star quality and how you show your personality,” Raff said.
The auditions are set to travel to 14 cities overall this season, and Columbus is the second stop in 2013. Following the weekend in Columbus, the auditions are scheduled to travel to Chicago for auditions on Jan. 26-27.
The Greater Columbus Convention Center is located at 400 N. High St.

Grant Gannon, Katie Lianez and Clay Fuller contributed to this story


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