The question, "How To Choose?" must be raised now as Delco Idol Junior heads into the finals.
The Media Theatre's popular Sunday night talent showcase for ages 7-13 is emceed by actor Bill Vargus (who reminded the audience during the semi-finals that he was once a colleague of FOX-TV's reporter Jeff Cole, who was one of five judges. The two of them had a pleasant and humorous exchange concerning FOX-TV umbrellas, as a storm approached Media at the start of the show). Vargus' brand of gentle-but-ironic humor is a great addition to the competition.
But back to the question in several parts:
How To Choose Songs? This is a good question for the contestants. Children are familiar with a myriad of tunes that are either introduced to them by their parents, by marketing gurus who use songs written by committees through entertainment specifically geared to their age group, or because they may have an actual interest in a specific performer, Broadway show, or genre.
Jesse Cline, artistic director for the Media Theatre, chats a bit with each contestant at this point in the contest and frequently asked "Why did you choose this song?" following the audience applause as the young singer stood beside his judging table. Answers, of course, were unpredictable and-in some cases-eye opening. The most common response was "I like it," but a few contestants added memorable commentary. Without getting into who said what (which could, to readers, seem to be critical commentary) here were a few memorable responses: "My mom chose it," "Saw it on YouTube," "The words have good meaning," "It's about a girl who is like me," and---my personal favorite---"I'm not sure."
How To Choose Who Moves Forward to the Finals? This is a big question. The judges, none of whom had seen the contestants in previous rounds except for Cline (the one constant judge), rate the performers as they see them for the first time on the stage. Each judge does this individually, with no clue as to the rankings of the rest of Judges' Row (a row of seats in the theatre). With an incredibly strong talent pool in Delco Idol Junior this summer, their duty is duly difficult. How to decide between a young actress with a terrific voice who sings a Broadway classic or an aspiring songstress about the same age who performs a Katy Perry hit? The two girls who sing the same song? The guys that each bring a unique personality to the stage, with powerful voices? And to do this within the time limit---Well, it must come down to the wire very quickly as there was not one weak performance in Delco Idol Junior's 2012 semi-finals.
Alas, the name of the game is "contest," so therefore 10 young singers, following the tabulations, were eliminated. Cline reminded the audience, however, that he tries to, "set up an atmosphere of education first and foremost during Delco Idol Junior." He explained that, "No one comes out onto the stage and does anything other than their best. We try to focus on the educational aspects of this rather that the competition, even though the format is what it is. But it's a learning experience, and if anyone is here for any other reason they really should not be here. It's not about who is best, it's about 'how can I make myself better' in the long run. That's what is important for young people."
The 10 talented singer/performers who will not make it to the Finals are: Emily Boyles, 11, of Lansdale; Katheryn Cooper, 9, of Glen Mills; Cassidy Else, 7, Drexel Hill; Elaina Fitzgerald, 8, Media; Julia Kubo, 8, Darby; Ashley Lennick, 12, West Chester; Cassidy Lennick, 10, West Chester; Fiona Moser, 9, Havertown; Alex Smith, 7, Media; and Alexandra Zeh, 13, of Wayne.
Only one set of siblings from the three sets who started this journey together has made it to the final round: Beada and Dan Briglia. Eliminated contestant Alex Smith will get to root for his bigger sister, Emily, in next week's finale on Sunday, August 12.
To vote for your favorite contestant (remember that the contestants with the most votes online have points added to their scores) visit mediatheatre.org or call 610-891-0100. The remaining contestants can be seen here: http://mediatheatre.org/SiteResources/Data/Templates/WebFormLayout2.asp?docid=681&DocName=Delco%20Idol%20Voting