Berkshire Idol To Take Drury StageBy Susan Bush
12:00AM / Friday, April 28, 2006
North Adams - Let the singing begin.
At 6 p.m. on April 29, a bevy of talented singers hope to wow a panel of judges and become a first-prize winner of the first "Berkshire Idol" findraising event. All contestants will belt out their chosen tunes from the stage at Drury High School.
Contestants were chosen during two audition rounds held earlier this month. Event co-chairwoman Joelle Brookner said that the finalists are all amazing talents.
"We have really talented people from all walks of life competing," Brookner said during an April 27 interview. "We were surprised with the amount of talent there is in this area."
Susan Daugherty is a co-chairwoman of the event.
Judges include Williamstown Theater Festival Director Roger Rees, who may be known to area residents as the "Robin Colcorde" character on the former "Cheers" television show, record producer John Souchak, 17-year-old Ananda Rose, a Williamstown singer who has recorded a compact disc, and folk singer Bernice Lewis.
The "Berkshire Idol" emcee is Tred Hulse, a popular dj who appears on the 99.5 FM "The River" FM radio station program "The Morning Show."
First prize winners will be chosen from each age category. Categories are age 7 to 11 years old, 12 to 16 years old, and 17 years old to adult.
First prize winners will be awarded $250 in cash and a specific amount of recording time donated by the recently-launched Skyboro recording studio in the city. The winners will also be interviewed for a Berkshire Eagle "Berkshire Spotlight" article, Brookner said.
All first and second prize winners will be invited to perform for an evening at Gideon's Luncheon and Nightery on Eagle Street. Brookner said the date of the special performance has not yet been determined.
The proceeds from the event will benefit the Louison House shelter in Adams and the Mill City Productions community theater troupe in the city. Brookner said that 75 percent of the monies collected will go to Louison House and the remainder will be given to the theater company.
A $20 contestant fee collected during the suditions is part of the donated revenues, and "Berkshire Idol" finalists collected additional revenues, with a commitment to raise a minimum of $100.
She is aware of an individual has raised $1,000, Brookner said.
Prizes will be given to the top two contestant fundraisers, Brookner said. Prizes are an iPod and a karaoke machine.
Brookner said that 400 advance tickets have been sold. The tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at Moulton's General Store in North Adams, Simmons Furniture in Adams, Tailored Events in Pittsfield, and the Williamstown Youth center in Williamstown.
"We have already raised $10,000," Brookner said.
Louison House staff and those associated with Mill City Productions have offered assistance with the event planning, Brookner said. Members of the Drury High School Drama team have been very helpful and generous as well, she said.
"Berkshire Idol" is likely to become an annual event. Brookner said the current plan is to send solicitation letters to area non-profit agencies during the fall. Agencies may respond with a request to be a beneficiary of the fundraiser, and a different agency will be chosen as a funds recipient yearly, Brookner said.
"We're going to do this again," she said. "We are going to open this to all non-profits. We'll be soliciting in the fall. In these days when funding for social services is being cut left and right, we want to be able to fill some gaps."
Additional information about "Berkshire Idol" is available at a www.iberkshires.com/berkshireidol/ Internet web site.
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or at 802-823-9367.