Amateur performers to compete for cash June 7

Posted: Thursday, June 05, 2008

Artists generally don't have enough venues where they can express themselves freely, actress Ericka Lee said.

"I just love it when I have the opportunity to perform exactly what I want to perform and perform it how I want to do it, you know," she said. "That's a blessing. It's like letting your soul scream just for a minute."

To provide an opportunity for local performers to exhibit their skills, Lee has helped produce a talent competition being dubbed "Amateur Night at the Rendezvous" that is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 7 at the downtown bar. A dozen performers will be pitted against each other for a grand prize of $500 cash and the primary judging duties will fall to the audience.

"I just feel it's really important for artists to get up there and do their thing," she said. "And I feel it's important for an audience to let them know what it feels about it, so this is an opportunity for both and to have a good time doing it, and hopefully earn $500 doing it."

The inspiration of the competition comes from the "Amateur Night" at the Apollo Theater in New York, Lee said, a venue known for its critical audience.

"It's still a great place for professional artists to get their start," she said.

Lee said she thinks the audience on Saturday will be more receptive to the performers' talents than overly critical. Seven of the 12 performers have already signed up and include the Viking Lounge's winner of "Juneau Idol" Stanley Jacabus, Collette Costa, Manuel Hernandez, Mary Anne Swendsen, Tahir McInnis, and Perseverance Theatre actors Jordan Barbour and Salissa Cooper.

"I doubt anyone will get booed off. They're so talented, everyone will be wooed by their performances," she said.

Lee said she is still looking for a couple of more participants to sign up for "Amateur night at the Rendezvous" and said she plans to pull a couple of people out of the audience to perform karaoke. She said each person will only be given one opportunity to win over the audience and the two independent judges. Lee said there also will be a DJ to help liven up the crowd.

Saturday will give people a chance to see some of Juneau's most talented performers in a fun and lively atmosphere, she said.

"I really feel like there should be more opportunities for people to just get up and go and do their thing, you know, and not have to go through an establishment," Lee said. "There should be more free expression, and there aren't too many opportunities for that, so I just wanted to provide a stage for that."

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