It didn’t end the way he had hoped, but a North End-based singer says being part of Canada’s Got Talent was an experience he will never forget.
Paul Ong, 23, decided to try out for the popular TV talent show late last year at the urging of his father. He wowed evaluators with his rendition of Somewhere from the hit musical West Side Story.
That performance led to him being invited back for a taping of the show at Pantages Playhouse Theatre the week before Christmas.
Martin Short, along with fellow celebrity judges Measha Brueggergosman and Stephan Moccio, were in Winnipeg for the taping.
"It was a very amazing experience. I knew I was going to go on stage in the evening so I had a lot of time to kill," he said.
The downtime did have an upside, according to Ong.
"I had a lot of finals for most of my classes. Studying kept my mind off the tense thoughts and the excitement," he said.
Ong appeared on the show in mid-March, but was eliminated prior to the next round of competition.
One of the highlights for Ong, who has been singing since he was four, was the feedback he received from the celebrity judges.
Brueggergosman, an opera singer, said she loved his voice while Short offered him a particularly sound piece of advice.
"He told me to use less gestures and really rely on my voice more for performing," he said.
Despite his disappointment over the end result, Ong plans to continue singing while finishing off his education degree at the University of Manitoba.
Family has played a large part in Ong’s singing and his television talent show adventure — it was Ong’s father Adrian who saw that Canada’s Got Talent was coming to Winnipeg to tape.
The show taped its current season last fall and winter.
"My dad saw it online and I went and checked out the pre-registration," he said.
Pantages is a far cry from the venue where Ong his start nearly two decades ago — the family bathroom.
"Good acoustics," he joked.
Ong said the support of his family in general, and his mother Myrna in particular, has been vital to his musical success.
"My mom fostered it (and) I have a very supportive family," he said.
Myrna Ong said she never had any reservations about supporting her son’s musical aspirations.
"I’m not really into singing myself, I just encouraged him to keep at it. I just like to listen to him. It was a great outlet instead of hanging out with much more negative influences," she said.
Ong, who was born in the Philippines before he and his family moved to Winnipeg, said he has always been drawn to musicals.
"Musicals and the Broadway stuff tends to suit my voice," he said.