Next spring, Mount Airy and other cities will gain widespread exposure through their participation in the “Showville” television series on AMC — but for now the production is cloaked in secrecy.
That includes auditions scheduled today for “Showville” (formerly titled “Road Show”), which the public is not allowed to view, including no photographic or other coverage of performances by the press, producers say.
However, after four finalists are picked from those who audition today for a chance to win $10,000, the community will be invited to a talent show Saturday night where the four will perform. The audience will select the winner through a paper ballot process.
The open-call auditions are set for 4 to 8 p.m. today at the Andy Griffith Playhouse for “Showville,” which will chronicle the drama surrounding talent competitions held in small towns across America. People of all walks of life and talent levels were invited to try out for their chance at stardom.
As of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear how many people might be auditioning. “It could be 20 — it could be 100,” said Kim Kantner, a co-executive producer for “Showville.” However, more than 100 people showed up for a preliminary audition process at the playhouse on Oct. 29.
“We are expecting a good turnout, though I couldn’t guess at a number,” said another representative of the program.
Kantner was among about a dozen people involved with “Showville” who arrived in Mount Airy Tuesday for a walk-through of the playhouse and other preliminary steps associated with this week’s production.
Mount Airy is one of eight locations selected for the reality series to be aired next spring on the AMC cable network. A camera crew is visiting a different city on the list each week to film individual one-hour episodes that will be part of the program. No photos can be taken inside the playhouse, Kantner said.
Those auditioning today are required to be at least 18 years old and to have completed and signed paperwork in advance for the process, then be prepared to perform at least two acts no longer than 90 seconds each. None of the required documents will be available today, and no one may bring blank ones to fill out at the audition, under the rules.
Kantner explained Tuesday that the secrecy surrounding the initial portion of the process relates to the producers’ desire to build up to a climax, as much as possible, when the program is shown by AMC next spring.
Similar to other reality shows involving competitions, much of the appeal involves the surprise element surrounding the eventual outcome.
This is evident with today’s auditions. After they are completed, the four finalists will be chosen at about 8:30 p.m., with Kantner saying that each will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding their selection.
Their identities also will not be released to the media, according to Kantner, who did acknowledge the possibility that some word might leak out through family members or acquaintances of those chosen.
They will spend the rest of the week being coached by two professionals — identified as actor Alec Mapa and choreographer Lisette Bustamante — in preparation for Saturday night’s finale.
Saturday Show Open
While today’s auditions are closed to the public, it will be a different story Saturday night for the final taping, Kantner said.
“We definitely want the town to come to the talent show,” she said. “The whole idea is that the town votes for the winner.”
That event will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday at the playhouse, which holds more than 300 people.
Free tickets will be available there — on a first-come, first-served basis — beginning about 5:30 p.m. that day.
After the finalists perform, paper ballots and pens will be distributed to audience members, who will indicate their choices for best performer. The ballots are to be taken backstage and tallied with the aid of a notary.
The winner will be announced Saturday night, but Kantner said no effort will be made to supply that person’s name to the press in order to keep it from being widely disseminated.
Meanwhile, local tourism and other representatives, including Surry Arts Council Executive Director Tanya Jones, say they are excited about the exposure Mount Airy’s inclusion in “Showville” will provide and the economic impact from the presence of the crew.
In addition to the chance to showcase the city through a major cable TV network, local businesses and others are benefiting, said Jessica Icenhour Roberts, tourism director for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce.
This includes booking about 15 hotel rooms, utilizing caterers and restaurants and hiring about 10 people for various functions.
“So this will be a big impact for Mount Airy businesses, especially in January when they are a little slow tourism-wise,” Roberts added.
The other cities on the “Showville” tour are Holland, Mich.; Walla Walla, Wash.; Kingston, R.I.; San Marcos, Texas; Hugo, Okla.; Athens, Ohio; and Fairfield, Iowa.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.