2004-04-02 22:19:35 UTC
Hanson to judge 'Idol' on Seacoast
By Jason Schreiber and Melanie Asmar
EXETER - "American Idol" has become one of the hottest shows on TV, but the
Ioka Theatre is sure to be the hottest venue in town tonight when hundreds are
expected to turn out for the "Seacoast Idol 2" finale.
Event organizers estimate as many as to 1,500 people could cram the sidewalks
outside Exeter’s historic theater on Water Street hoping to snag one of the
425 seats inside.
But the 10 finalists who will try to sing their way to stardom in the local
competition aren’t the only draw this year. Hanson, the teen heartthrobs who
had young fans everywhere grooving to their hit song "MMMBop!" in the late
1990s, will join the panel of judges for tonight’s competition. The blonde
three-boy band will also perform a song off their new album, "Underneath"
before the show.
"We’re going to have a huge crowd in town," Ioka owner Karey Libby said.
Because of the large crowd anticipated at the show, two security guards have
been hired to keep things under control inside the theater, while two police
officers will be stationed outside. "Safety is our No. 1 concern," Libby said.
The crowd is a concern for Exeter Fire Chief Brian Comeau as well.
"Anytime we get an event like this it’s good for Exeter, but we’re always
concerned about the possibility of overcrowding and maintaining exits in a safe
manner," Comeau said Thursday.
Admission to the show is free, and Libby said the seats will be filled on a
first-come, first-served basis. There are 325 seats available the the public
since 100 have already been assigned to friends and family of the contestants,
Once all of the seats are filled, Libby said those waiting for a seat will be
Event organizers had planned to open the doors at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m.
show, but given the large crowd, Libby said the doors will open at 6 p.m.
Patrons will be able to begin buying items from the theater’s concession
beginning at 4 p.m.
When the Ioka hosted the "Seacoast Idol" finals last year, some 250 people were
unable to get a seat. With the Hanson brothers serving as celebrity judges this
year, the crowd is expected to be even larger. Libby said she expects between
600 and 1,500 people to show up.
The scheduled appearance by the Hanson brothers – Isaac, Taylor and Zac –
is having a "huge impact," Libby said.
"I’ve gotten tons of calls from kids. They’re excited. It’s a big
celebrity to come to our little town," she said.
Mike O’Donnell, a disc jockey for WERZ, 107.1 FM., who is in charge of the
event, said he has heard that some teenagers will be "camping out early" at the
Ioka to be sure they get a seat.
"I’ve gotten calls from as far away as Rhode Island from people who want to
see Hanson," O’Donnell said.
As of Thursday morning, Comeau said he had not been contacted about the show by
event organizers. However, he said he planned to have fire officials speak with
Ioka management about the show to make sure there are no safety issues.
"This is one of those types of events that may warrant someone counting how
many people are in the building, and we need to make sure the fire alarms are
up and running," Comeau said. "There’s a lot of work that would go on from
our side that would have to be done prior to such an event."
Comeau described the Ioka as a safe building with a "great" fire alarm system.
"It has enough exits to meets its occupancy load, but it’s still a large
crowd and you don’t know how people will react and move (in an emergency),"
The contest had a problem with large crowds at the semifinals, which were held
at Meadowbrook Lounge in Portsmouth on March 9. Many contestants were
disappointed when their friends and relatives were denied entry because the
building was at capacity, O’Donnell said.
"The semifinals were absolutely insane," he said. "Three hundred people showed
up, when we could only seat 150."
Joining Hanson at the judges’ table will be Jon Hichborn, owner of Records on
the Wall in Exeter; Rachel Lang, last year’s Seacoast Idol winner; and Rick
Cooper, president of the independent label Rick Cooper Music in Chicago.
WERZ’s 2 Guyz & a Girl morning crew, Kid Cruise, Suzanne Lewis and Kevin
Matthews, will be stepping down as judges.
The winner of "Seacoast Idol 2" will receive free tickets to a final episode of
American Idol in Los Angeles, as well as studio time in New York and a lunch
date with record officials from Epic Records.
The 10 finalists who will be competing for the trips are Shah Salmi, Curtis
Gray, CJ Cram, Tatum Harvey, Travis Tulo, Lisa Sansouci, Selicia Thomas, Derek
Thompkins, Melissa LeClair and Amanda McGrew.
According to O’Donnell, each contestant will sing one song, accompanied by
music. The judges will then narrow down the field to three contestants, and
those finalists will sing one more song for the judges.