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This article was published 12/12/2011 (3240 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
ACCORDING to John Brunton, this is one TV show that lives up to the promise implied by its title:
Canada's Got Talent.
"I've been blown away by the talent we've seen," said executive producer John Brunton. "And it's shocking where some of the talent is coming from -- the stereotypical notion that you'd typically see one type of talent in one area of the country and another type in a different part has been smashed.
"I don't know if it's the Internet that has caused people in small towns to be exposed to things like hip-hop, or inner-city people to tap dancing, but it's shocking.... We saw three of the best (hip-hop) dance groups -- I mean really great, blow-your-mind groups that had our judges on their feet screaming -- that all came from a pretty small community in British Columbia. It's crazy, and it's really fantastic."
The Canadian version of the internationally franchised reality/competition format (the franchise includes Britain's Got Talent and America's Got Talent), which will premiere on Citytv in March, is currently conducting its second round of auditions. The six-city tryout tour stops in Winnipeg this week (today and Wednesday at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre) to allow the most entertaining acts from last September's open audition to strut their stuff in front of the show's judging panel, which includes Martin Short, Measha Brueggergosman and Stephan Moccio.
The show's wide-open format -- unlike Idol, there are no restrictions on age and the competition is not limited to singing -- has brought a staggering variety of acts into the audition halls.
"I don't know if I've counted how many different kinds of acts we've seen," he said. "Even within the genre of magic, for example, there have been so many different kinds of performers. We've got seven-year-old fiddlers who are blowing people's minds, and we've had a dance group whose members are all over 70 years old. It's really fun, because there are no boundaries on what you can do or what you can call entertainment.
"It makes me feel like I'm backstage at the Ed Sullivan Theatre -- back when I was a kid, I'd be sitting there waiting for the Rolling Stones, and my dad would be waiting for Alan King, the standup comic, and there would be all these other acts -- comedy, dance, music of all different kinds. It's phenomenal."
Four audition sessions will be taped in front of a live audience (1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. both days); free tickets were offered online to the public, but a limited number of rush seats will also be available approximately 20 minutes before each taping.
Brunton, whose Insight Productions has also been responsible for format imports Canadian Idol, Deal or No Deal Canada and Are You Smarter Than a Canadian 5th Grader and such as homegrown reality titles as Battle of the Blades and Canada Sings, said the biggest eye-opener about this country's version of Got Talent is the cultural diversity of the tryout crowd.
"It's mind-blowing how many different art forms from cultures around the world are proudly being represented by those cultures here in Canada," he said.
"In my opinion, Got Talent is a television show that reflects the character of the country it's being done in. I really felt that the British show was very British, and the American show, when you compare it to our show, isn't nearly as multi-cultural, because (the U.S.) isn't a country that celebrates individual cultures to the extent that Canada does."
Unlike Canadian Idol, which lasted six seasons and still ranks as the highest-rated domestic TV series ever, Canada's Got Talent allows a live audience to become part of the competition very early in the audition process. Brunton said the presence of a full house has had an interesting effect on some of the show's second-round contestants.
"In the audience, there are often families or entire communities that have come out to support someone," he explained. "You've got all these people cheering, which does two things -- it energizes them, and it sometimes makes them very nervous. Some of these acts have never performed in front of an audience before -- when they first audition for us, it's in a room in a convention centre or a hotel; suddenly, they're walking out into a highly charged audience that's screaming and shouting, which is both energizing and nerve racking."
Brunton added that the show's judges -- multi-faceted entertainer Short, opera star Brueggergosman and composer/conductor/producer Moccio -- have far exceeded his expectations.
"I've always felt that the judges have got to have credibility," he said. "I don't think Hasselhoff (on AGT) had cred. Our judges have cred. ... Marty Short is the classic triple threat; Measha is an opera star, a diva in the best sense of the word... she's sophisticated, but also incredibly funny. She's an opera singer who plays hockey; she has a very broad scope of reference.
"And Stephan, I think, is the next David Foster -- a phenomenal artist in his own right, a great songwriter and really stylish, handsome and funny, with great instincts about music. I think our judges have clicked from the first time they met. They're very, very smart, and smart goes a long way in anything you do."
Canada's Got Talent Live Audition Tour
Hosted by Dina Pugliese; featuring judges Martin Short, Measha Brueggergosman and Stephan Moccio
Today and Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Pantages Playhouse Theatre
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