Idol auditions attract 10,000
TORONTO (CP) — For weeks, they’ve flocked to cities like Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax and Vancouver by the thousands, belting out songs in the hope of becoming the next Kelly Clarkson or Ruben Studdard.
And as the Canadian Idol auditions came to a close in Toronto on Monday, the CTV show got it’s largest crowd yet.
About 10,000 people were queued in a dusty, gravel parking lot across from the downtown Metro Toronto Convention Centre hoping to become the first Canadian Idol.
Many of the popstar wannabes and their parents had been in line, huddling under tarps and umbrellas to ward off rain, wind and the sun, since the start of the weekend.
Coolers, sleeping bags and other camping gear were scattered across the make-shift shelter area. Portable toilets lined a street and litter was piled high. Traffic on adjoining streets crawled during the Monday rush hour as drivers gawked at the scene.
One Idol hopeful was Kristina Monk, a 16-year-old from Napanee, Ont. (Avril Lavigne’s home-town) who, like the others, will have to compete through three rounds of judging to make the cut.
“I lived through the cold,” said the bubbly teen, while waiting in line in a holding room inside the Convention Centre where a team from L’Oreal was styling hair and painting nails. “My voice isn’t up to par. I have a sore throat and I’m nervous.”
When asked why she thought she’d have a shot at the title she gushed: “Oh my god, I’m so into music. Music is my thing. I write, I sing, I used to be in plays. It’s just what I want to do. It’s my dream.”
The auditions began at 10:30 a.m. Monday. Approximately 1,600 competitors, aged 16 to 26, were to be processed each day through Wednesday. Those finalists will be reduced to 100 by Wednesday night by a four-judge panel. They will then compete alongside 13,000 others from eight cities across Canada for a chance to be one of 30 semi-finalists.
First in line was a group of four from Windsor, Ont., who pitched a tent outside the Convention Centre’s doors early Thursday morning.
Police officers moved them across the street where they then alternated between the chilly tent and a hotel suite.
“We thought that thousands of people would already be lined up on Thursday. That’s why we came,” said Monique Regnier, an 18-year-old student who travelled with her two sisters.
“I wanted to do this my whole life,” added her friend Tara Mandler, also from Windsor. “In Canada there’s never any opportunities to things like this. You either have to have money or position or some connection. It’s the first opportunity so that’s why I’m doing it now.” The 25-year-old waitress performed I Want To Love You Forever by Jessica Simpson.
No doubt some contestants will provide great ammunition for the Canadian judges who will likely try to replicate the razor tongue of Simon Cowell, the popular judge on American Idol.
“I’m not gonna look down that’s for sure”, said Jazz Torralba, 17. The Toronto student says he watched the American series and picked up several pointers for his audition.
The show will air Wednesday nights on CTV beginning June 11. And if the U.S. version is any indication, millions will tune in to watch the spectacle unfold. The second season of American Idol attracted an average of 2.1 million Canadian viewers, with 3.4 million tuning in for the season finale.
The show is based on the 2001 smash hit from Britain, Pop Idols. The franchise has created national Idols in six countries including Poland, South Africa and Germany.
Winning the competition has proved fruitful. Last year’s winner Kelly Clarkson saw her album Thankful debut at No. 1 (it outsold Madonna’s latest disc by nearly 20 per cent in the U.S.). Runner-up Justin Guarini will put out an album next month and have his big screen debut opposite Clarkson in From Justin to Kelly, a romantic musical comedy that looks like Grease on the beach.
Idol auditions attract 10,000