Vic­to­ria tal­ent con­tests heat up

Two pro­duc­tions are tak­ing place around the same time. What’s up?

Times Colonist - - Front Page - ADRIAN CHAM­BER­LAIN Back­stage acham­ber­lain@times­

When it comes to tal­ent con­tests, things are heat­ing up in Vic­to­ria. And not just un­der the spot­lights.

On Thurs­day night, Vic­to­ria Idol will stage its grand fi­nale for 12 fi­nal­ists at the Royal The­atre. And then, on Jan. 21, Van­cou­ver Is­land’s Got Tal­ent will mount its grand fi­nale, also for 12 fi­nal­ists, at Alix Goolden Hall.

Were you aware there are two high-pro­file tal­ent con­tests in our town? And it ap­pears a bit of fric­tion has bro­ken out be­tween the two.

Elaine Baglo is the new pro­ducer of Vic­to­ria Idol, now in its sixth sea­son. She’s less than thrilled at the ar­rival of Van­cou­ver Is­land’s Got Tal­ent, a new ven­ture pro­duced by Maria Manna.

It does seem a tad odd. How come there are two high-pro­file tal­ent con­tests hap­pen­ing at the same time in what is — let’s face it — a rel­a­tively small city?

“That’s a very good ques­tion,” says Baglo, “and I’m still try­ing to wrap my brain around that, too ... She [Manna] is in di­rect com­pe­ti­tion.”

To make mat­ters more com­pli­cated, Manna, a jazz singer, was the pro­ducer of Vic­to­ria Idol last sea­son. She says she moved on to found Van­cou­ver Is­land’s Got Tal­ent be­cause of her in­ter­est in a tal­ent con­test with a broader scope.

Manna doesn’t see the two con­tests as be­ing in di­rect com­pe­ti­tion for spon­sors and con­tes­tants. They’re dif­fer­ent, she says. Van­cou­ver Is­land’s Got Tal­ent wel­comes any sort of tal­ent, while Vic­to­ria Idol’s fo­cus is mu­sic.

“The sing­ing thing’s been done with Vic­to­ria Idol,” Manna says. “I wanted to see if there were dancers and mu­si­cians and jug­glers. At one point, we did have a jug­gler.”

Back to Baglo. She says at one point, some­one con­tacted Vic­to­ria Idol’s spon­sors to tell them Vic­to­ria Idol was can­celled. And she says some­one has been rip­ping down Vic­to­ria Idol posters.

Manna says no one from her camp con­tacted Vic­to­ria Idol spon­sors or tore down posters.

Manna says that, af­ter hatch­ing the con­cept for Van­cou­ver Is­land’s Got Tal­ent last Jan­uary, she con­tacted Baglo about a meet­ing. She wanted to en­sure the two con­tests did not clash. But Baglo de­clined to have the dis­cus­sion, ac­cord­ing to Manna.

Manna adds: “We’re both fundrais­ers try­ing to raise money. I’m com­ing from a such a good place.”

Cer­tainly, each tal­ent show raises funds for an ex­cel­lent cause. Pro­ceeds from Van­cou­ver Is­land’s Got Tal­ent go to the Maria Manna Bur­sary Fund, as­sist­ing chil­dren who want to study mu­sic at the Vic­to­ria Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic. Pro­ceeds from Vic­to­ria Idol go to PEERS, a non-profit so­ci­ety pro­vid­ing sup­port and ed­u­ca­tion for sex-trade work­ers.

Last year, Vic­to­ria Idol raised $20,000 for PEERS, a goal Baglo hopes will be topped in 2011. Mean­while, Manna hopes her event will raise $20,000 for the bur­sary fund.

In the mean­time, the PEERS or­ga­ni­za­tion has of­fi­cially dis­tanced it­self from any ill-feel­ings that might have cropped up be­tween the con­test or­ga­niz­ers.

PEERS’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Marcela Mrnka, does ac­knowl­edge there has been a back-and-forth be­tween Baglo and Manna re­flect­ing a “per­son­al­ity con­flict” be­tween the two.

“We’re grate­ful to both women and both events,” she says, adding that PEERS wishes only the best for Van­cou­ver Is­land’s Got Tal­ent.

If there’s one thing that’s in­dis­putable, it’s that both tal­ent shows are worth sup­port­ing and at­tend­ing. Here are the de­tails. Vic­to­ria

Idol: The fi­nal con­test takes place at 7 p.m., Jan. 13, at the Royal The­atre. The $20 tick­ets can be pur­chased by phon­ing 250-386-6121.

The singers will be ac­com­pa­nied by Su­garfix. There will be a spe­cial guest ap­pear­ance by Aero­smith Rocks.

The judges in­clude Bill Hen­der­son from Chilli­wack and Roy Roper from Stonebolt. The con­tes­tants are: Gar­rett Chase, Kaya Hunter, Megan Johns, Sarah Wil­liams, Syd­ney Need­ham, Erin Car­son, Jody Frock­lage, Mag­gie Lea Rud, Sarah Sed­lock, Sierra Kachan, Ni­cole Potvin and Ashley Arm­strong.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.vic­to­ri­

Van­cou­ver Is­land’s Got Tal­ent:

The fi­nal con­test is at 7 p.m., Jan. 21, at Alix Goolden Hall, Vic­to­ria Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic. The $12 tick­ets can be pur­chased at all Thrifty Foods lo­ca­tions or at the door (cash only). Judges in­clude B.J. Cook, Johnny Bag­pipes and Jeff Neill from Street­heart. The con­tes­tants are: Adee­sha and Michaela, For­mally Ca­sual, David Gil­roy, Brice Mor­ri­son, Sky Mun­dell, Karissa Sovdi, Jordie Scaife, Parker Sch­midt, Dylan Smith, Stacy Farkas, Michael Lukaszczyk and Brooke Turner.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.van­cou­veris­lands­got­tal­

It’s hard to choose: Vic­to­ria Idol and Van­cou­ver Is­land’s Got Tal­ent both raise funds for ex­cel­lent causes.

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