Hundreds of Hamiltonians battled crippling nerves in scorching heat for a chance at stardom yesterday.
Pre-auditions for X Factor NZ, the first New Zealand version of the international television hit, stopped in at The Meteor Room in the central business district, drawing one of the biggest crowds so far on the 27-stop national tour.
A line of hopefuls - many clasping umbrellas to shade themselves from the sweltering heat - snaked its way along Victoria St, some waiting close to 24 hours.
"We camped outside, but then it got cold so we jumped back in the car," said 21-year-old Sacha Warner, who had been waiting outside the venue since 10.45pm on Monday.
Mediaworks publicist Rose Swale said numbers were almost as big as Christchurch and Wellington.
"It's one of our busiest days so far. The people of Hamilton have really turned out."
Bob Marley fan Nolan Paekau, 37, came brandishing a guitar, and hoped to inspire his son, whom he had in tow.
"Basically I just want to see whether I'm talented enough to get through the door," he said. "And to show my family and friends it doesn't take much, don't be shy. Just get up and do it."
While the first prize of a recording contract with Sony Music remained an ultimate goal for many, some, like Lynette Karam-Whalley, of Te Awamutu, took a slightly more philosophical approach.
"I don't know what they're looking for - hopefully it's me - but if they're not I will go on to something else."
Chad Salvatierra, 19, missed out on a spot, but said he enjoyed competing nonetheless.
"It was really eye-opening to see the talent that is around Hamilton.
"I was in New Zealand's Got Talent also, and today I've seen a whole different crowd come together to sing."
Mr Salvatierra's close friend, Joshua Tanuvasa, died last year after he collapsed while training at Les Mills gym on Victoria St.
The 17-year-old was a talented singer, who made it through to the final 40 of New Zealand's Got Talent.
"I think he would have definitely entered. He was already seizing his opportunities with his Glee Club and New Zealand's Got Talent."
Otorohanga mother and daughter Dawn and Sidney Roberts typified the range of ages present. After deciding to come along to support her 17-year-old daughter, Mrs Roberts, 46, was urged by her mother and husband to enter, too.
"Yeah, I'm nervous. That's been my problem; that's why I've left it so late in life, but I love it [performing], so I want to share it."
The pre-auditions are the first stage of the competition, with those who impress given the chance to perform in front of the four judges and a live audience. Daniel Bedingfield and Stan Walker are judges for the show with another two still to be announced.
The tour moves on to Tairua today.
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