'Showville' finale draws a crowd
By ANDY HALLMAN
Ledger news editor
Four finalists in AMC’s talent show competition “Showville” competed Thursday at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center’s Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts.
The four finalists were singer-songwriter Adrien Daller, comedian Brian Heisel (a.k.a. “Redneck”), singer-songwriter Jeffrey Hedquist and tap dancer and tumbler Isaac Stauffer. The winner of the competition took home $10,000.
The audience members, which nearly filled the 520-seat auditorium, voted for their favorite performer on paper ballots passed out after the program. The winner was announced that night, but the audience was told to keep the winner a secret until the television series airs in May.
The attendees had to do more than just make a promise. They had to sign a non-disclosure agreement that they would not post the results on the Internet. The non-disclosure agreement stipulated that any attendee who disclosed the results would be subject to pay $250,000 in damages.
Rustin Lippincott hosted the program by introducing each performer. Lippincott is the executive director of the Fairfield Iowa Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. He said he was pretty nervous before he took the stage.
“Any time that I do something that has national relevance, it heightens the nerves a little bit,” he said. “Once I was in the moment and I saw the audience members in the Sondheim, I thought, ‘This is our opportunity to be on a national stage. Not often does Hollywood come to a small town like this.’”
After each performer left the stage, the audience waited several minutes for the next act to perform. Lippincott said this was because a camera crew was interviewing the performers backstage to get their immediate reactions to their own performance.
Some members of the audience arrived more than an hour before the show was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., even though the doors to the auditorium were not scheduled to open until 6:30 p.m. As members of the crowd waited in line, an AMC camera crew interviewed people about who they were supporting.
Josef Biechler was among those interviewed for television. Biechler said he went to the talent show to support Hedquist.
“He’s the owner of a farm where all my friends live,” he said. “He likes to support sustainability projects out there.”
Biechler has known Hedquist for three years. He said he is from Ames and is in Fairfield to attend Maharishi University of Management, which is where he met Hedquist. Biechler said that he and a group of 15 friends from the university attended the finale to support Hedquist.
“We put out a big notice to support Jeffrey,” he said.
David Edson attended the finale to support Daller.
“I’ve watched her sing and perform over the years,” he said.
Edson said he is also familiar with Daller’s father, Doug Daller, who is a musician as well.
“He has orchestrated and performed in a lot of shows,” Edson said.
Bonnie and Richard Thompson said they were there to support Daller, too.
“She’s fabulous,” said Bonnie about Daller. “She really gets into it, and she’s very personable.”
The Ledger had a chance to speak with Daller before she auditioned Monday. Daller wrote two songs for the audition, which she prepared with her band, “Trouble Lights.”
Daller described the two songs as electronic pop songs. One is called “Safe with Me” and the other is called “Ready.” Both of those songs are on an album Daller recorded in town.
Daller said her music is similar in style to acts such as Swedish singer Robyn, Lady Gaga and Björk.
“I’ve been singing since I was 15,” she said. “I’ve performed in bars and dance clubs, mostly in Des Moines and Ames.”
Daller’s band has toured in states such as New York, Ohio, Florida and California. She is no stranger to the stage or screen. While studying musical theater in England, Daller had the opportunity to sing in front of the Queen of England.
“That’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “I sang ‘God Save the Queen’ to the queen.”
Daller was a member of a choir that sang on Remembrance Day at the Royal Opera Hall. The event was televised on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Her goal is to make music all the time and get paid enough so she can do it the rest of her life. She said the Showville talent program was a good way for her to showcase her music to a large audience.
“I thought it would be fun to sing songs I wrote and be on TV,” she said.
Although only four contestants made it to the final round, more than 30 people auditioned for the show Monday evening. Wendy Stegall performed an Indian dance for the judges. The dance is known as the “Kathak.”
“I learned it in India and then practiced it in Austin, Texas and in Chicago,” she said. “I went to India twice for a few months each time. I started practicing a south Indian style of dance called Bharatanatyamin in 1986 and then I switched to Kathak in 1988. When I saw the Kathak performed, I knew that was the dance I was looking for.”
David Owen and his wife Krystal auditioned as a duo. The pair sang “Come Sail Away” by Styx and they both played the guitar. Krystal said she was nervous when she saw that the list of approved songs was so short, but luckily she was able to find one to her liking. David said he noticed the list of approved songs for Fairfield was different from the approved lists for other towns featured in “Showville.”
Krystal and David said the producers contacted them about a week and a half prior to Monday’s audition, which gave them enough time to prepare. The two had performed for the producers in October. For that first audition, David and Krystal had to wait six hours to perform.
“We were told we would not have to wait six hours again,” Krystal said.
Rick Stanley took a unique act to the Sondheim center. He performed a piece he wrote called “Once Upon a Dream,” which he played on a harp he made. Stanley has recorded seven albums featuring his own music on the harp.
“I’ve been playing the harp for the past 18 years,” he said. “I started playing the guitar at age 14. I got into the harp because I started making them. I moved into the countryside south of Douds, and decided I wanted to stay at home and make beautiful instruments.”