OCEANSIDE — Celebrants can avoid traffic gridlock this Labor Day weekend by staying in town and giving a leg up to the local talent at the North County Has Talent competition.
Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 31 and 2 p.m. Sept. 1.
Profits from tickets, priced at $15, support the Oceanside Theatre Company’s Third Season at the venerable The Brooks Theatre.
Amateur and professional entertainers are among the 36 acts selected from more than 50 acts that auditioned. First, second and third prize-winners will be named from separate Adult and Youth categories. Each winner will be rewarded with cash prizes of $250, $100 and $50, respectively.
Originally from Los Angeles, Vicki Hamilton moved to Oceanside 31 years ago and put her singing and acting career on hold to raise four children. She is a longtime supporter of The Brooks and will be singing Alto’s Lament in the competition.
“I started singing when I was 9 years old and my first performance was, yes, a talent show,” she recalled. “Fifty years later I’m still at it and feeling nostalgic watching the young ones in the group.”
Among them are Kathleen “Kat” Madurak, 14, who has been studying the art of contortion as a performer with the Lindley Lopez Circus and Sophia Isadora Academy of Circus Arts in San Diego. She wants to follow in the footsteps of one of her instructors who used to be a performer with Cirque de Soleil.
Kat explained that she chose contortionism instead of ballet or singing because “It’s fun to do.”
“I really don’t know what it is about it that I like — maybe freaking people out,” she explained.
Her most difficult challenge is something that wouldn’t occur to most people.
“I sit on my head,” she added.
Her mother, Amy, supports her completely.
“I feel that Kat should be able to pursue anything she wants,” she explained. “If she becomes interested in something else, I’m going to let her choose her dreams wherever they take her. Her dad and I feel the same way.”
A familiar face to many audience members is 22-year-old Carey Pickford, aka Cool Juggler, who has performed at Legoland. He’ll be juggling everything from balls to hatchets, toilet plungers and even rubber chickens. Pickford is not only a performer, but a social activist.
“I want to change the world and bring juggling to people in Haiti and Africa,” he explained. “I would also like to introduce it into schools.”
Seniors are another demographic he says that can benefit from juggling.
“It is a good cardiovascular workout and strengthens your arms and reflex skills,” he explained. “Many studies indicate that it increases gray matter and improves cognitive thinking.”
Naomi Olson is the board president of OTC and explained the audition process.
“We posted and advertised open auditions and people called to set appointments or just walked in,” she explained. “We asked that their performance would be no more than three minutes and they each, in turn, got up on stage and performed for us. Since this is a board-sponsored event so members of the board — many of whom are actors, singers and musicians — made the decisions about who would participate.”
On Thursday evenings prior to the Labor Day competition, some contestants have previewed the competition by performing on the MainStreet Main Stage at the Sunset Market.
“‘The Brooks is a wonderful venue that surprisingly few people know about and support so we also want to invite the public into our theatre and hopefully gain future participants for our events,” she said. “Surprisingly, this is actually the first time each of our contestants has become involved with OTC.”
She credits Greg Klamt, a comedic singer, with designing the billboard poster to promote the competition.
“We sincerely hope that every one of the performers will become part of the OTC family,” she added. “It’s incredible how much talent there is in this cast.”
On Oct. 26, the Oceanside Theatre Company will present a world premiere of the play “Light Falling Down,” written by Carlsbad resident Aimee Greenberg and directed by artistic director Christopher Williams.
The Brooks Theatre is located at 217 N. Coast Highway, Oceanside. Tickets are available at the box office, by visiting oceansidetheatre.org or calling (760) 433-8900.