Turning chairsBy Lea Salonga | Philippine Daily Inquirer
And what a chair it is, too! Brand-spanking new and shiny, and far more comfortable than its predecessor, my new chair merely added to the excitement that was this: Blind Auditions for “The Voice: Kids.”
Hopeful young artists (by young, we mean ages 8-14, not “pa-young”) queued for auditions all over the country, from Ilocos to way down south in Cotabato, plus a few from overseas. Over 10,000 kids gave it a go … and that number was quickly whittled down to just over 100. For four days, the three coaches—Sarah Geronimo, Bamboo, and myself—listened, critiqued, praised, and jumped through hoops for these young people. (We had a few dropouts due to illness or other conflicts.)
The first really exciting thing was getting to see our brand-new set, housed in ABS-CBN’s Studio 10 (regular home of “ASAP”). The floor would light up from the stage to each chair that turned. The stage had stairs leading up to it from three points—one in the back near the band; two closer to the front. There was a bigger audience seating area now and everyone could see the band, as compared to last season’s Blind Auditions when the band was hidden.
I am not at liberty to reveal who made it into our Top 54, but I must say these kids are all incredibly talented and will take your breath away. Please, hold on for just a while longer until our first airing date.
There are a few fun things I can talk about: First, the chairs. Yes, they are quite comfortable, and look snazzy. But, the action that lies beneath is very … strong, enough to throw someone off if they’re not careful.
After each artist performs, all the coaches end up facing the stage, no matter the outcome of the audition. After the artist leaves for the family room, the coaches reflect for a few minutes on what just took place.
The first few times on our first day, we were not warned that the chairs were about to turn. Not a countdown, not a cue. When we least expected it, bam! Wapak!
I promised no profanity this season, and it’s a promise that my chair is making very difficult to keep. I did let out a crispy, crunchy “Ano ba?!” here and there. Over the next few days however, we would cue the chair guy, or the stage manager would cue the turn. Very quickly, I learned to engage my core and brace myself. This set might just give me a six-pack.
Second, the jester. Eric Nicolas keeps us all in stitches. He performs professionally (with a stint at Resorts World Manila this March and April with Season 1 winner Mitoy … visit www.rwmanila.com for details), but on “The Voice,” the only ones who get to see him are the studio audience, the band, writers, production staff and the coaches.
Eric keeps all of us awake, happy, smiling, laughing. He sings, gets the audience to sing, does in-studio interviews, gives instructions. Every taping is always fun with him around. It relieves us of the stress that some of the more tense moments on the show can, and do, bring.
Third, our tireless staff. Led by director Johnny Manahan, this is a crazy crew on the floor, in the control room, and in the tension and family rooms. There are writers focused on the hosts and the coaches, but working as a team for the entire show. Besides pretaping instructions, we get on-the-spot cueing, whether with hand signals, large cue cards or eye contact. I’ve grown accustomed to reading the signals thrown around and across the room. There is so much that the home viewer doesn’t see, which makes this experience so much more fun to go through.
We have makeup artists, hairdressers and stylists standing by to make sure everyone under those lights and on-cam looks great. Every so often, we get a touch-up, a reapplication of a strategically placed piece of double-sided tape, or just some brief conversation. We have personal assistants who keep us company, and caffeinated (or hydrated, whatever we need).
The four days of Blind Auditions were so much fun for all the reasons that you’ll get to see very, very soon. However, what makes it truly worthwhile is the incredible collection of people brought together to put this show on the air. I have a feeling you’ll all have a great time watching.
This is “The Voice: Kids.” Coming very soon to a TV screen near you.
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