Memories of a Lifetime: Talent Search Kicks Off For 54th Circle of Lights
Writer / Tonja Talley
Magic and excitement will again permeate the air around Monument Circle during one of Central Indiana’s most treasured holiday traditions – the Circle of Lights®. Presented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) #481, the 54th Circle of Lights® will kick off the holiday season, starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 25.
The celebration will include acts from around Central Indiana, a performance from the cast of the 2016 Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s “IPL Yuletide Celebration” and a visit by the big guy himself – Santa Claus. The evening will culminate with the mesmerizing lights from the 284-foot Christmas tree on the ground while fireworks dazzle overhead.
The show is set. Now onto the search for entertainment. Downtown Indy and members of IBEW #481 invite all entertainers, singers, musicians, dancers, choral groups and more to the Circle of Lights® talent search auditions held at the IBEW #481, 1828 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis. Auditions welcome performers on a first-come, first-serve basis. Performers should choose only one of the following audition times and plan several hours for the audition process:
• Saturday, October 1 from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
• Tuesday, October 4 from 4-7:30 p.m.
Rules/Suggestions from 2015 Acts
Holiday themes are required, preferably upbeat, for all auditions and the live show. While acts chosen for the finale will have approximately 3 minutes, performers have only two minutes to impress the audition judges. “Come confident, come dressed for success and come prepared,” said Center Grove’s Wilson Smith from last year’s group, Alex, Jeffrey and Wilson Trio. “There will be a lot of talented individuals and groups at the auditions, so you need to be on your ‘A’ game and ready to impress the judges.”
The Soul to Sole dance group out of Muncie found the saying, “Third time’s a charm,” to be true. This troupe had tried on three different occasions to make it to the Circle of Lights®. It was their third time that brought the acclaimed honor of tap dancing on the big stage with a glittering performance of “Sleigh Ride” by Pentatonix.
What has the troupe learned from their experience? “Things happen. You have to go with it and keep going,” said Premier Dance Center owner Michelle Jones-Haskell. “Just be prepared and well-rehearsed. Let your costume and performance glimmer with fun and bling of the season.”
In addition to the live coverage of the Circle of Lights®, media partner WTHR-13 will highlight an audition special, “Circle of Lights®: Indiana’s Got Talent” on Tuesday, November 22 at 7 p.m. According to Downtown Indy, “The special broadcast takes viewers behind the scenes to capture the moments as hundreds of Hoosier singers, dancers and entertainers vie for a spot in the beloved Circle of Lights®.”
A final, invitation-only audition will take place in mid-October. Downtown Indy suggests preparing a second number just in case you receive the invitation to return. The Alex, Jeffrey and Wilson Trio suggests going as far as having a third number ready. The trio did an exceptional job with the song, “Mary, Did You Know?” for their first audition. When they received the callback, the trio performed a fun number called “Santa Buddies,” a twist off the rendition of “Santa Babies.”
With the final auditions complete, the judges announced the winners. The trio had indeed claimed a spot in the grand finale. Why the suggestion for a third number? ”We, as a bunch of teenagers, didn’t want to upstage Sandy Patti’s version of ‘Mary, Did You Know?’” said baritone Alex Milligan, supporting a mischievous smile. “We were all told to use familiar holiday songs for our stage performances. While ‘Santa Buddies’ was an exhilarating number, it wasn’t a familiar holiday song. We ended up singing, ‘The Christmas Song.’”
Whether planning two songs or three, audition rules highly advise against singing a capella. Instead, performers bring a CD or an accompanist to the auditions. (A keyboard will be available for auditions.) How do performers choose between the two options? According to the 2015 gospel group Zions Joy!, they keep in mind factors such as the style of the song, the amount of pre-audition practice time and the feel you want to portray to your audience.
Zions Joy! President Kay Insley clarified by saying, “If you’re singing a big, up-tempo song and don’t have a full band backing you, it’s probably best to sing with a CD. If an accompanist comes to every practice, live music is always a plus.” In closing, Insley humbly said, “The bottom line is that you should feel incredibly comfortable with your musical selection before your audition. You want to walk in feeling confident, prepared and ready to have fun. Whether or not you make it to the big stage, you are gaining experience and memories that will last a lifetime.”