American Idol hopefuls audition in Annapolis
ANNAPOLIS — Hopeful and nervous were two words those auditioning for American Idol in Annapolis on Tuesday, Sept. 5, used to describe themselves while standing in line preparing to face the first round of judges in the popular show.
As temperatures crept back up to the upper 80s American Idol hopefuls lined up in the parking lot of the Westfield Mall in Annapolis. The earliest contestant arrived close to 4 a.m. to get her audition in before school — Sept. 5 was also the first day back to school for many Maryland students. The American Idol production crew began taking registration at 6 a.m., but the line moved quickly all day, said contestants.
By 1 p.m. almost all who had arrived had completed their auditions. Producer Melissa Elfar said they were pleased with the number of try outs, as this was their next to last stop for the East Coast auditions. The ninth and final stop for the East Coast is Boston, and the West Coast auditions, happening simultaneously, are also wrapping up, she said.
Of those who auditioned in Annapolis, there is good talent here, said Elfar. American Idol had previously held auditions in Washington, D.C., but this was their first time stopping in Annapolis. Many of the contestants were from the greater D.C. and Philadelphia area, along with a few from Virginia and Prince Georges and Baltimore counties in Maryland.
Of those receiving that coveted golden ticket — a pass through to the next audition rounds — was Michael Huntley from Fredericksburg, Va.
Huntley has tried out for the show three other times, and is a natural performer both on and off camera. Huntley, who brought and played his guitar, originally intended to play and sing a country song, but while standing in line was convinced by his fellow contestants to perform an original.
The gamble paid off and Huntley walked away with his golden ticket. Huntley was accompanied by his close friend, who volunteered to drive him since Huntley had been in an auto accident a few months previously. Huntley said the reason he keeps trying at American Idol is to make a better life for himself and his daughter. Viewers won’t want to miss the chance to look for the charming and talented Huntley when the show airs.
Local resident, Skylar Podraza from Queen Anne’s County, also made her way to the auditions late Tuesday afternoon.
Skylar is 15 years old and a sophomore at Kent Island High School. She said she had always wanted to be able to audition for American Idol, but the minimum age is 15, and the show had ended before she was old enough to try out. When Skylar heard the show was coming back, she was ecstatic to find out auditions were being held in Annapolis.
She sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” a song she had sung in a previous voice recital. The judges asked Skylar if she was a “musical theater kid.” The judges said they recognized her training, and though it wasn’t what they were looking for this season, they said she has a great voice and she should definitely come out to audition again in the future.
Skylar said she wasn’t nervous at all, she loved singing for the judges, and is definitely excited to do a similar audition again.
Skylar has taken voice instruction from the time she was 7 years old and currently sings with Amy Morgan in Easton. She has performed at the Queen Anne’s County Fair Talent Show three times, including this past August where she won the 13-17 age division singing “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.” Skylar’s list of credits include singing with the Wye Youth Chorale at the State House in Annapolis during Christmas, as well as at the Festival of Trees the last two years, performing with the Triple Threat Theatre Studio, in the Talent Machine Co. production of “Sweet Charity,” KIHS production of “Cinderella,” in PL Productions “Sleigh Ride Around the World.”
She plans to continue to pursue performance arts in college, in addition to studying business.
The show will air on ABC sometime in 2018, said Elfar. ABC reports Ryan Seacrest is expected to return to host the show when it airs.
Kent Island High School student Skylar Podraza auditions for American Idol in Annapolis on Sept. 5.
Will Brorsen, left, and maybe the next American Idol, Michael Huntley of Fredericksburg, VA. Brorsen accompanied Huntley to the auditions in Annapolis on Sept. 5.