Although Residence Life changed the name of “Western’s Got Talent,” previously “Western Idol,” a few years back to incorporate a wider variety of talents into the show, this year’s competition could have fit easily into the Idol theme.
The event will take place at Shaw Theatre this Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. The contestants in this year’s Talent competition all fit squarely into the vocalist or singer/songwriter categories of musical performance, including duos of guitarists and vocalists, singers accompanying themselves on piano, and a few performers who have written their own material.
“It’s still very vocal heavy, but we’re trying to broaden that,” said Nolan Patton, a hall director in Valley II’s Eicher/LeFevre Hall and the organizer of this year’s competition.
The pool of applicants, which included a dancer and a comedian, was ultimately narrowed down to a slate of 13 students encompassing nine musical acts, all of whom will now compete for the grand prize, which is, rather fittingly, musically related this year.
“There was a lot of great talent, and we just had to narrow it down to who we thought would be the best to bring to the show,” Patton said. “Now, we’re looking at a few hours of studio recording time as the prize. The winner will get to schedule a three-hour slot to record at Western Sound Studios here on campus, and we’ll pay for that.”
The winner, as usual, will be selected in a partnership between the audience of the event and its three judges, which include Margaret Hamilton, the WMU School of Music advisor, Dean Kruse, residence hall director of the “Little Three” and Laura Darrah, assistant director of Residence Life.
Despite the presence of the judges, Patton stressed the importance of the audience’s role in the outcome of the competition.
“The audience votes are actually weighted pretty heavily, so the vote is tilted towards them, but the judges’ opinions count as well” Patton said. “It’s really a balance between the two, so the contestants have to perform for both the audience and the judges if they want to win.”
As Western’s Got Talent is a Residence Life event, all applicants have to live in either the Residence Halls or the Campus Apartments, and all of this year’s contestants fit into the former category. However, all interested parties are welcome to attend the event, which promises to be a fun (and free) night of entertainment.
Patton advised that interested audience members be sure to arrive early to get a good seat though, since the event tends to be pretty popular.
“This is my first year working Western’s Got Talent, but I hear that Shaw is usually quite full,” Patton said. “In previous years, when we’ve held it in other locations, we’ve had trouble getting everyone in.”
RV Mendoza, a singer and ukulele player who won Western’s Got Talent two years ago, and who was invited back to perform at last year’s show, had nothing but good things to say about his experience in the competition.
“Western’s Got Talent is fantastic! It’s great to have friends to cheer for you and it was awesome to see students giving it their all,” Mendoza said. “Everyone show go see it!”
For more information, call Residence Life at 269-387-4735.