VERSAILLES — Following up their Ohio Has Talent victory in 2016, local barbershop group The Quintessentials traveled to Orlando, Florida, in November to audition for the television show “America’s Got Talent,” a dream community members, volunteers, and attendees at the group’s shows helped make a reality.
Despite flying into Atlanta, Georgia, and then driving the rest of the way into Florida — making a stop in Savannah, Georgia to pick up band member Quincy Baltes along the way — the boys insisted there was little time to see the sights or engage in tourist activities during the trip.
“We got a pretty sweet rental car, but that was about it,” band member Isaac Buschur said.
Upon arriving in Orlando, the gang reported to the Orange County Convention Center, where auditions for the popular TV program were taking place. Shortly after getting registered and taking their place in line, according to Buschur, the boys were pulled aside and told they were going to begin filming.
“We walked in the room with about four or five other acts,” Baltes said. “There was a producer and a cameraman, you gave them the track you were gonna play, and that was it. There was no feedback. Everybody was just straight-faced the entire time.”
“It’s funny, because we had talked about it so much,” band member Mitchell Rawlins said. “We said, ‘These are not like the people we’ve auditioned for before. These are professionals. It’s gonna be a little bit more of a harsh environment than what we’re used to.’ But we were still totally surprised when we walked in there.”
The band was also surprised by the friendliness of many of their fellow performers at the audition.
“People would keep walking up to you and be like ‘Hi, I’m a gymnast,’ or ‘Hi, I’m a clown,’ or ‘Hi, I’m a spoken word artist,’” Rawlins said. “I think we initially went into it with more of a competitive mentality, but everyone was very friendly.”
The variety of performers was interesting as well, according to Buschur, as opposed to being on a show like “The Voice” or “American Idol,” where the contestants are all singers.
“We saw a guy spinning nunchucks,” Buschur said. “And then you’d look over to the other side of the room and there’s a girl dancing on a pole.”
The band performed “Working My Way Back to You” for the audition, a song popularized by The Four Seasons in 1966, and later covered by The Spinners in 1979. Now, according to Baltes, they’re just enjoying hanging out over the holidays and looking forward to returning to school in the spring. They’ll find out in January if they’ve been chosen to move on to the next round of auditions. And sometime after that, they’ll learn whether they get the chance to perform in front of Simon Cowell and the other judges.
“If we get to go in front of Simon, I hope he’s either like, ‘Hey, you guys are good!’ or ‘Oh my god, you guys are terrible!’” Wuebker said, hoping for a more passionate response than the one the boys got during their first audition.
“It would almost be an honor just to be told we’re terrible by Simon,” he said.
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