Times file photo
Josiah Jenks performs his song during the first round of Southern Tier’s Got Talent in February 2019. Auditions for this year’s talent show will take place Feb. 8 at Ray Evans Seneca Theater in Salamanca.

By Deb Everts

Auditions for the second annual “Southern Tier’s Got Talent” competition will take place Saturday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Ray Evans Seneca Theater on Main Street.

Organizer Glenn Wahl said this year’s talent show will have a couple of changes. He said auditions will be closed to the public so contestants will not perform in front of an audience — only for the judges.

Because some contestants have a considerable distance to travel, they’ll have the option to audition by sending a videotape of their performance and they will be judged based on that.

“During the audition, each participant will be given the opportunity to complete their entire act. I’ve attended too many theater auditions where the director gives them only about 30 seconds and they make up their mind based on that,” he said. “I don’t like that. I want them to sing their whole song or perform their whole act. Quite often there might be a different emotion shown later in the performance, or it might take the contestant a minute or so to get comfortable, so I like to let them do their whole performance.”

Wahl said the contestants will have two weeks to prepare for the first round, and they should prepare three different performances in case they make it through to the next round. However, their audition performance could also be used in one of their other rounds.

According to Wahl, cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third places. The amount of the cash awards will be based on the proceeds of the ticket sales from the three shows.

“Last year, we awarded $300 to first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place,” he said. “We’ll see how we do as far as ticket sales go, but we hope to improve on the amount of the cash prizes this year.”

Talented people from all over the area and beyond will gather at the theater to try out for a spot in the show. Wahl said there’s no limit as far as age or number of people in the act, as long as they fit on the stage.

“Any talent is fine, but we rule out anything that’s dangerous like chainsaw juggling,” he quipped. “Talents like singing, playing an instrument, dancing, juggling — just about any skill people want to present to be selected as contestants.”

Wahl said last year’s candidates were mostly from the local communities of Salamanca, Ellicottville, Olean and Springville, but some came from places including Derby, Collins and Fredonia, as well as Pennsylvanians from Coudersport, Bradford, Northeast and other areas.

“At this point, we are not sure who the emcee will be and we are still lining up the judges,” he said. “All we can say is we have a few judges from last year as well as a couple of new judges, but we haven’t gotten confirmation from these people, yet.”

Wahl, who lives in the Salamanca area and teaches geology at Jamestown Community College, in Jamestown, serves on the Board of Directors for CCLAA. He said this is the second year the Cattaraugus Living Arts Association (CCLAA) has produced the “Got Talent” show, which is a fundraising event for the Ray Evans Seneca Theater.

He said Cattaraugus Community Action (CCA) did it about a decade ago, and then one of CCLAA’s board members who work at CCA suggested they try it.

“It’s a good way in mid-winter to get people out and enjoying themselves,” he said. “This area has a lot of talented people and it’s fun to give them a venue where they can perform.”

The First Round is Feb. 22 at 7 p.m., admission $5; Semi-Finals are Feb. 29 at 7 p.m., admission $6; and Finals, March 7 at 7 p.m., admission $7. Attendees may purchase a three-show discount ticket on the first night for $15.
If anyone has any questions or plans to perform, they should contact Wahl at 945-1597 or sunkissedstudio1@gmail.com.