ACT sets first Altoona’s Got Talent contest

Think you have a great voice or love to dance?

Maybe you like to watch those TV talent shows with a panel of celebrity judges and a live audience and you’d like to sample one yourself, but you don’t want to go to New York or California.

Well, you need to travel no further than the Mishler Theatre for “Altoona’s Got Talent” on Aug. 7. You’ll see some of the region’s finest local singers and dancers compete in a local version of the hit TV show, “America’s Got Talent.”

The first of its kind – benefiting Altoona Community Theatre will award cash prizes to the top winners of the talent show in three categories: voice for ages 18 and under; voice for adults; and dance, said ACT Operations Manager Steven Helsel.

“We wanted to just showcase the talent that exists out there and give people the opportunity to perform for others,” he said.

The top three winners in each category will receive $200, $100 and $50 respectively. In addition, the top winners in the voice category will get 30 minutes of studio time at Forever Broadcasting, one of the program’s sponsors, to create a demo. The program’s other sponsor is Dr. John Anastasi and his Midlife Crisis Productions. The top winner in the dance category will receive a DVD of their performance at the Mishler.

People who want to be in the talent show must first audition on July 26 and 27 at Altoona Community Theatre, which is across the street from the Mishler, Helsel said. Already several people have signed up for the auditions, many of them fresh faces who have not been in ACT productions, he said.

Auditions are not open to the public.

Judges for the talent show will include Ryan Beeken, who is artistic director for the Blair Concert Chorale, and Michael Paul Makin of Pittsburgh, who taught ballet at a dance company in Ebensburg and has danced in the summer programs for several other American dance companies, Helsel said. Other judges will be added, he said.

ACT got the idea to do the show from State College, which hosted a similar show last year, Helsel said. The program is not affiliated with the national TV show, “America’s Got Talent.”