NZGT review: Talent show turns therapy
I am not the biggest fan of sob stories in any talent show. It feels manipulative.
But during last night's New Zealand's Got Talent there were many moments in which the show didn't just work as a platform for show ponies, cringe-worthy acts and people who would be better advised to stick to their hometown karaoke evenings. There were moments of therapy for the performers.
It didn't matter if any of them were actually really good - we all know they probably won't make any money with their skills - but they were given this one moment in front of an audience that seemed to boost their confidence.
For example, there was 28-year-old Dominique Duffy from Titahi Bay, near Wellington, who has just started a journey, losing a lot of weight, and, so it seemed, taking her life into her own hands.
She entered the stage jittery and nervous, but determined. And when she started singing Etta James' I'd Rather Go Blind, her confidence grew with every second that no buzzer was hit by the judges.
Or 10-year old Fynn Ellison from Christchurch who was born with an immune deficiency and who lives to dance. He clearly had a lot of fun jumping, bouncing and stomping onstage. And after he pocketed his three yeses he raninto his mother's arms, as you'd expect from a little boy, and said thank you.
And then there was 84-year-old Waikanae man Noel Signal. His whole life he wanted to be a professional singer but as a young father-of-three with a business to look after, there was just no opportunity to focus on his passion.
Now he wondered if he was still too old to hold a tune but he aced his performance of Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. It was so full of soul I needed to grab a tissue.
All those moments were well orchestrated, and I felt a bit played, but at the same time it seemed that being on stage did thsoe contestants a whole lot of good.
There was also a bunch of cringe-makers and some mothers who need a serious talking to.
We saw 18-year-old Cameron Collins behind the scenes with him mum. She told him that she's his biggest fan. And then we saw him perform Pie Jesus, the song last year's runner-up Jessie impressed the judges with.
But in this case, it's just something we all wish we had rather not seen.
There was also Sian Philipps who did a jazz dance number in something that looked like her underwear, which surely must have looked better in front of the bedroom mirror than it did on stage.
The queen of cringe from last year, 60-year-old Sharon Helm, was also back with a rendition of something that's supposedly fresh but was so awful that I decided it was time for a glass of wine.
It certainly was a good night for people throwing things into the air, too. Ryan Darwin proved to be the juggler-king on a roll, while the The Quizzical Mr Jeff showed us that it's possible to roll hats over your neck while looking spiffing.
Duo This Is Unicycling, comprising Christian Huriwai & Mike Padialproved, showed us that unicycles are not just for clowns. They left the judges speechless with their stunts.
A couple of good teen singers should not be left unmentioned: Like Comedian Mike King's 15-year-old daughter Alex who gave a soulful rendition of Adele's Chasing Pavements, 16-year-old Estella Winnie McGee (I do love her awesome country music name,) who performed an original song and 17-year-old Grace Andrew from the Solomon Island who won hearts with her humble performance of Whitney Houston's Heros.
I said it before, and I will say it again, it's a tough show to watch for a cynic.
Especially when the oldest act of the night entered the stage. It was impossible not to fall in love with Waiheke Island's dance crew Hip-Op-Eration, with a combined age of about 1000 (without exaggeration).
So far New Zealand's Got Talent is an absolute love fest.
Not all of the acts that got three yes's will actually be back for the semi-finals, starting in two weeks. But it will be nice to see some of them back to see whether they really do have talent.
So far it's just a variety show that gives people from around the country their five minutes in the limelight. Good or bad.
And, let's be honest, it's a pleasure to watch.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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