It took just about two hours before the first of the “American Idol” contestants started trickling out of the North Charleston Coliseum, and the news was on their faces - they weren’t chosen to go on to the next audition. They would have to wait for another year to reach stardom. Some were mad, others just dejected.
About 9,500 contestants showed up today for the first round of competition of one of the world’s most popular shows.
Ryan Seacrest charmed the ones who were at the front of the line — they had lined up as early as 11 p.m. on Tuesday for that coveted spot — and warmed up the crowd for an opening television shot that will show that auditions were held here. For a little while, it looked just like the television show with boom cameras and mikes, but most of the crowd couldn’t see what was happening. They were much further back in a double line that stretched around the Coliseum parking lot. Supervising producer Patrick Lynn said that they were very pleased with the turnout.
The producers expected to choose more than 500 people out of the crowd, to come back on Sunday for more auditions.
Contestants were told to line up at 5 a.m., and a few grumbled that they were on time, but then stood waiting in the morning heat. Many were hot, and admitted their makeup and hair was wilting in the morning humidity.
The hopefuls came from as far as Maine and Texas, and some have tried out before. Others were more philosophical about the experience, viewing it as something to check off a list to say that they had tried.
Chelsea Buckley, 15, sported shocking pink hair and turned nervous when asked her name. Her mother, Monica was reassuring, whispering “Don’t be nervous, punkin’.” The two had driven in Wednesday from Springfield, Ohio. She was undecided about what she would sing, but she looked the part.
Yaussef Francis, 24, of Mount Pleasant was talking on the phone, and interviewing as the line moved toward the cool air in the Coliseum. He had stayed up all night singing and was running on nervous, but happy energy.
By 9 a.m. everyone was inside, and the auditions begin in earnest. Contestants have three to five minutes to sing a song as well as show the judges they have a winning personality and the star quality needed to be on the show.
By 10:30 a.m., the first defeated hopefuls were headed to their cars.