Arts and Entertainment

Idol worship, Federal Way-style

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

Eighteen hopeful singers gathered at Knutzen Family Theater Tuesday to audition for their chance to become a Federal Way Idol in a new vocal competition based on the hit television series “American Idol.”

The contestants, mostly female and ranging in age from 16 to 53, performed a song of their choice before a panel of three judges, who rated them based on believability, eye contact, vocal skill, stage presence and overall performance.

Some of the contestants performed classical pieces, others R&B or country.

“There was a wide variety of stuff,” said Tarra Reardon, the cultural events and arts coordinator for the city of Federal Way, which organized the competition. “One sang a cappella. One gal tried out with guitar and vocals. An Elvis impersonator tried out. Everyone else had back-up music.”

Most of the contestants had some form of formal vocal training, from school or church choir to the Seattle Symphony or the theater, Reardon said.

After each performance, the judges rated the contestant in each category on a scale of one to five. After the competition, the judges tallied the score sheets and picked the top 12 to move to the next level.

While the judges offered constructive advice for each candidate to take home, none utilized the Simon Cowell method of emotional sabotage to convey their thoughts on the contestants’ talents.

On a positive note, one judge said, “I like your interpretation of the song,” after Erin Cox sang “Fever.”

“I am very nervous,” Cox said before her turn.

If candidates hadn’t received a call by 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Reardon said, they didn’t make it.

The 12 contestants who were called will perform Aug. 17 at the last installment of the city’s Summer Sounds on the Beach concert series at Steel Lake Park. A winnerand runnerup will be chosen by audience ballot.

The winner will receive $500, the opportunity to record a CD at Knutzen Family Theater, and the chance to sing in the main event –– the Battle of the Idols at the Puyallup Fair Sept. 16.

The runnerup will receive $100 and, if the winner can’t make the Battle, will get to go in his or her place.

The regional winner of the Battle of the Idols, which will include contestants from participating cities in King and Pierce counties, will take home $1,000.

The city of Puyallup started the Battle of the Idol competition a couple years ago, Reardon said, and Tacoma joined last year. Parks officials in the two cities thought it might be fun to get all the cities to participate in a region-wide Idol competition.

This year, Tacoma, Puyallup, Auburn, Federal Way and Seatac are participating in the event, though Reardon said she’s not sure how many of the cities will have contestants at the Battle of the Idol.

Reardon was pleased with the inaugural Federal Way Idol, although participation fell short of the 60 maximum contestantts organizers prepared for.

““I thought it went real well for the first year,” she said. “Hopefully next year we’ll grow and get bigger.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

Staff photographer Fumiko Yarita contributed to this report.

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