Local theater to showcase talent

This is where jokes go to meet new people. This place scares me somewhat, but it's on my bucket-list to go on a stage like this and have a room full of people howling with laughter. Or at least not screaming with rage & disgust. I know there are many issues with this shot but it was handheld and I had people waiting for me so I couldn't keep trying till I nailed it better. I wanted to share it anyway because I feel an empty stage may bring out similar emotions in others :)


The Indiana Players will host the first round of “Indiana’s Got Talent” auditions from Thursday to Saturday.

“We’re hoping for a big variety,” said Laura McLaine, Indiana Players vice president and artistic director. “Most of our auditions last year were instruments or singing, those types of things. We’re looking for any kind of variety of things like dancing, magic. You know, all the crazy stuff you see on ‘America’s Got Talent.’”

Last year’s first-prize winner, Brentley Bartlett (senior, music education), said combining talent from IUP and the community will produce a good amount of quality acts.

“There is a crazy amount of talent here that’s worth noting,” Bartlett said. “Hopefully this year we can get a good representation of exactly what Indiana is about and what we have to offer.”

Audition times will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Hadley Union Building Susquehanna Room, and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Philadelphia Street Playhouse.

Aspiring participants can mail in registration forms, which are available at Indianaplayers.com. Registration is $8, and walk-ins will be accepted but put on a waitlist.

Judges for the auditions will include Holly Boda-Sutton, co-director of the IUP dance program, theater professor Dr. Michael Schwartz and music professor Dr. Zach Collins.

Guests can attend auditions free of charge.

“This year, we’re hoping to have enough variety that we can do different age groups, as well,” McLaine said.

Katie Sechrist, Indiana Players’ fundraising director, is still unsure how many categories performers will be put into.

A cash prize will be awarded to the winners. The prize amount has not been set.

The Indiana Players will be working with Hopeful Hearts, a program that helps children who have lost loved ones.

“Both nonprofits came together to do this fundraiser last year and this year,” McLaine said.

Sechrist said last year’s competition raised about $2,400.

“We were modeling it after ‘Happy Valley’s Got Talent,’ and we had more registrants than they did their first year,” Sechrist said.

The show will be held at 6 p.m. April 8 at the Indiana Theater on Philadelphia Street. Tickets for the final show will be $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and $6 for children under 5 years.

Judges for the final show will be Indiana Chamber of Commerce President James Struzzi II, Indiana District Attorney Patrick Dougherty and Dr. Ruth Riesenman, an IUP Foundation board member.

Josh Widdowson of Renda Broadcasting will be the host for the final show.

“We’re excited for him, and he’s going to be doing a little entertainment, as well,” McLaine said.

Also performing at the talent show will be last year’s three winners, including Bartlett.

“Having the opportunity to join in and connect with the Indiana community through art was one of the most memorable experiences of my college career,” Bartlett said. “I was extremely blessed to have been chosen as last year’s winner, and grateful to have been asked back to perform this year.”

Bartlett plans to sing “Remember When It Rained” by Josh Groban.