Hopefuls show they’ve ‘Got Talent’

It was cold and windy Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop people from lining up outside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans to try out during NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” open casting call.

By 10 a.m., at least 300 acts had shown up for auditions, which were from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Some people arrived as early as 6 a.m. It was the show’s first stop in New Orleans as part of the biggest talent search in it’s history.

Before long, the hall was filled with the familiar sounds of a trumpet, bass and drums. Singers belted out their best as they warmed up. Family and friends gathered to support the hopefuls.

Even a member of the show team tapped her feet and shuffled along as 35-year-old Mario Abney and his band, “The Abney Effect,” kept the crowd lively by playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

“We’re here to let the world see what kind of music we play,” Abney said.

Charles Krestul, executive in charge of production for the show, said it was a good turnout, and that they’d keep seeing acts as long as the hopefuls showed up.

All kinds of performers came out Saturday, ranging from jugglers and poets to singers and dancers. People from all over Louisiana came out to give it their best shot.

One of them, Andrew Beam, 15, of Lake Charles, performed his best Michael Jackson moves up and down the halls of the convention center.

“People say, ‘Beam, you’re not going to make it,’ and I say, ‘I’m going to do it!’ ” Beam said.

Eleven-year-old triplets Rachel, Allison and Kelly Dupuy, of Baton Rouge, were among those on hand to audition. They sang Adele’s hit, “Rolling in the Deep.”

“It’s always been our dream to become a star,” Allison said.

Some acts traveled much longer distances to make the open casting call.

Jasmine Bond, 22, drove to New Orleans from New London, Conn., for the tryouts.

“I’m here to bring spoken-word poetry to the mainstream media,” Bond said.

Other acts were innovative. Avel Murillo, 50, who originally is from Mexico, came to audition by way of Mission, Texas. He made his own instruments from a broom, plastic jug and a metal watering can.

Those selected by producers will perform for the judges when the show team returns to New Orleans on March 4. The winning act will take home a million-dollar grand prize and a headlining show in Las Vegas.

“America’s Got Talent” is the only talent competition that is open to all ages and talents, event organizers said.

Performers were given 90 seconds to showcase their talent to producers in the hopes of being selected to perform for the judges.

New Orleans was the last stop on a 14-city search for talent to perform in the show’s upcoming eighth season. Some of the other stops included New York; Los Angeles; Nashville, Tenn.; Portland, Ore.; San Antonio; and Savannah, Ga.