If the current economy has put a crimp in your entertainment budget, perhaps Sunday's "Showcase to Stardom" is the answer.
Durango's home-grown battle royale of a talent show will bring 14 separate acts - good ones - to the single stage of the Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College with bonus performances thrown in from past winners Formula 151, which will be the house band this year, and Matt the Magician. That's a lot of bang for your entertainment buck.
"I don't think this community has a clue how many talented people live here, and I'm amazed at the depth of talent," said Mary Jo Rakowski, who will co-emcee the Spotlight with Preston Parrott.
"As you get involved, you start to live vicariously through these people, and you want them all to get the top awards because they really are all that good. It's a showcase of local talent that's not available anywhere else in the community."
Three judges - singer Lisa Blue, musician and producer Tom MacCluskey and Henry Strater Theatre manager Sophie Hoyt Parrott - are charged with the somewhat daunting task of deciding the best from a diverse spectrum of performers. They'll pick a winner in each of the adult and youth categories and the audience also will have a say by voting on the Audience Award. Cash prizes will be given to all three winners, as well as second- and third-place finishers in each category.
Sophie Parrott said judging presents its own challenges, but there must be a way to pick a winner, Rakowski's best wishes notwithstanding. She said much of her criteria is of the intangible variety - originality and creativity, poise and presence and how each act is accepted by the audience.
"It is a talent show, so you want them to be good, but I really admire someone who's willing to try something outside the box that's not so safe. I like that," she said.
"The Gong Show" this is not. Performers had to audition to be included on the program because the winner of the adult category receives a significant springboard to, well, stardom. The top act will receive booking consultation from the Leslie Management Agency, a media kit from professional publicist Indiana Reed, publicity photography by Lisa Mackey, studio time at Eagle Sound, if needed, and a performance slot or appearance on Four Corners Public Radio KSUT-FM.
Scheduled performances include rock bands, vocalists, dancers in several disciplines, and a concert pianist. There's not much that can be done on a stage (legally, anyway) that won't be seen Sunday night.
Organizers hope each of the 28 performers involved in the 14 acts will bring an entourage of supporters to pack the seats at the Concert Hall, which, like every other venue in America, presents an ongoing challenge for self-sustainability. Reed, who does publicity for the Concert Hall, said that was part of the inspiration for the 2004 inception of "Spotlight to Stardom." As a student at the University of Southern California, she witnessed similar events fill the Greek Theatre and thought the concept could work in Durango, as well. Turns out she was right.
"We re-created that with 'Spotlight to Stardom,'" Reed said. "And each year we've brought many, many folks into the hall who may never have been there, and who now have 'ownership' in the Community Concert Hall. And we love them!"