8/31 America’s Got Talent Second Semifinal Features Debra Romer, Jackie Evancho, Alice Tan Ridley, and Fighting Gravity

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Crazy night, folks.

Crazy.

Welcome to the digest of the 8/31 America’s Got Talent Second Semifinal (blogged live at nobodysview.wordpress.com.)

They’re all back:  Piers Morgan, Howie Mandel, Sharon Osbourne, Nick Cannon, and the voice-over guy you hear at the beginning (I think his name is Joe Cipriano.  Mr. Cipriano, if you’re out there, tell us if that’s you!)

The second semifinal featured Haspop, Studio One Young Beast Society, Fighting Gravity, Murray, Maestro Alexander Bui, Nathaniel Kenyon, Debra Romer, Jeremy VanSchoonhoven, Michael Lipari and Ashleigh Dejon, Michael Grasso, Alice Tan Ridley, and Jackie Evancho.

Another of the AGT faithful looked at this list and said, “This is going to be impossible!”

Indeed.

But winners will be chosen.  Someone will move on.

Five to be exact.

But seemingly impossible?  There’s probably some truth to that.  Impossible to pick a winner.  After all, last week, we here at Nobody’s View (and a few others we know) though that Antonio Restivo was robbed.

Someone should really look into that.

But tonight’s group is quite unbelievable.

Alice Tan Ridley was first up.  She is just absolutely unbelievable.  As you probably know, she is the mother of actress Gabourey Sidibe.

Now?  She’s just Alice Tan Ridley.

Sharon has called her a “powerhouse” and I think there’s a truth to that.  Her voice is tremendous, her talent is undeniable, and America will likely respond to that.  I think she showed us tonight why she deserves to be on this show…

And out of the subways.

Next up was Haspop, the man whose body looks like one of those childhood toys where you squeezed a button and an animal collapsed.  Do you know what I’m talking about?

Probably not.

I had a giraffe one.

Anyway, his performance tonight was interesting.  He said his theme was arguing with his neighbors.  It was certainly clever how he mixed the media of music and film, but I’m not sure it will be enough to topple some of tonight’s titans.

Although, Howie said he found Haspop quite “wow” tonight.

Piers’ “X” tells us where he stands on the issue.

Next on stage was Maestro Alexander Bui, the amazing piano player.  This kid has incredible skills.

He promised to make Piers proud, and tonight, he really did.  He stated in his intro that practicing piano is the same as eating breakfast.  Bui has sacrificed so much for his art, and it shows.  His fingers flew across the keyboard tonight, and he should feel great about his performance…

Howie’s “X” notwithstanding.

Shame on you, Mr. Mandel.  Your reasoning is…well…I’m not really sure what to say (I’m trying to be more diplomatic than Piers who called Howie a cultural ignoramus.)

Res ipsa loquitur in this case, Howie.  I’m sorry.  I like you.  But there it is.

Did I just agree with Piers?

Don’t tell anyone…especially Howie.

Next up…way up…was Michael Lipari and Ashleigh Dejon.  These two stopped a few hearts a while back with their fake fall, but they’re back.

Sharon indicated tonight she was not sure how they would top that last performance, but I think they did a good job tonight.  Michael said he was going for something a little more heartfelt.

America will decide if they succeeded.  But even if they did, I just don’t know if heartfelt acrobatics are going to be enough.  Although, when you have an act where not falling constitutes a success, you have something going for you right at the start.

It was good.  But how good?

We’ll see.

Magician Michael Grasso came on stage to perform another of his great illusions.  In some respects, it is magic that he is still alive.  Grasso told America that he has had three kidney transplants.

Wow.  That is pretty inspirational.

And that inspiration certainly shows through in his magic.  His performance tonight was terrific, and his illusion certainly had a “wow” factor.  He left Sharon Osbourne pretty much speechless.

Even Piers was quite taken by him.

Here’s a thought:  Did you ever wonder what happens when a magician’s assistant gets mad at her boss?  Do you think she might be tempted to reveal how the trick is done?

Just a random thought.  Don’t waste too many brain cells on it.

I certainly didn’t.

Debra Romer was next to perform.  She is another contestant who has a heartbreaking, and heartwarming, story.  She ran away from home, and tonight she told the story of how she left with a suitcase while her brother watched cartoons.

Debra has a quality about her…it’s something you see…that is overt; but there is also a quiet vulnerability underneath.

It was hard to see her tonight without her guitar, but her voice is so amazing that it was just a pleasure to hear her perform.  A fellow viewer has said this is his pick, and that he will be first in line for her CD.

Howie said he didn’t feel “moved” by the performance, and maybe that’s so, but just like Christina and Ali, her story gives her an edge with voters.  And it certainly gives her an edge in life.

And it should.  She claims she gets paid for bookings now, and I applaud that.  AGT is about talent, yeah, but life is about perseverance.

And Debra Romer certainly seems to have persevered.

Orlando, Florida’s Studio One Young Beast Society followed Romer.  They are the last surviving dance crew.  At times they looked like 8 Haspops dancing in unison.  It was a good performance that brought the whole studio to their feet.  They pushed the limits tonight and had some great tricks in there.

They might give some of the singing acts some trouble.

And they might give Vegas some buzz.

Maybe they’ll take Howie’s advice and change their name to Studio Two Young Beast Society.

Maybe not.

Let’s hope not.

Jeremy VanSchoonhoven brought his unique brand of acrobatic bike riding to the show.  The preview showed an injury that looked pretty serious.  I guess it was just a matter of time.  One hates to see that at any stage, but especially before the semis.

It appeared to have an effect on his routine when he missed a trick at the beginning.  I’m guessing a large fall has to have psychological ramifications.

But in the end, Jeremy pulled it off in grand fashion, powering through the part of the act that created the original problem.

He’s certainly unique, even if he is a bit sore.  Piers called him gutsy.  I think that’s true.

I hope he recovers quickly.  We may be seeing him again.

Georgia’s Nathaniel Kenyon, came next.  The spirit of Justin Bieber was certainly in the house.

Kenyon has been battling illness and nerves all the way.  Tonight he picked a song that really seemed to suit his voice and his persona, although he did seem nervous.

And not even Piers’ “X” could stop the girls from screaming.  But, let’s be honest…Nathaniel could just stand on stage and hold the mic and it is likely his teenage demographic would still put him through.

Magician Murray was next with his magic.  He says he is from a long line of railway workers, and is the first to venture out into the waters of magic.  Last time he brought out a tiger.

What would he do next?  How would he top that?  He tried tonight with a 24′ train and two audience members, with an homage to David Copperfield.

The train vanished amidst a chorus of applause…and some criticism from Piers, who took issue with Murray’s monologue during the trick.

It’s hard to know where America will come out in the battle of the magicians, or if either will get through, but you can’t deny…they both performed great illusions.

Favorite 10-year-old Jackie Evancho was next.  She had a lot of live up to.  From her first moment, she was a star, and that meant she had to push the envelope.

And she did, with a sensational rendition of Con Te Partirò (Time To Say Goodbye.)

Howie says many people still don’t believe it’s her, and I could see how they might think that.  But if we take it on faith that it is her, then we are always in for a treat when she sings.

Tonight she tore it up again.  And there’s no reason to believe she won’t tear it up in the finals.  And there’s no reason to believe she won’t tear it up on the AGT roadshow.  And there’s no reason to believe she won’t tear it up on Broadway.  And on CD.  And on DVD.  And on the PBS special that will be honoring her in 60 years.

Humility and talent are a formidable combination, and Ms. Evancho has both.  In excess.

At age 10.

Time To Say Hello…

Last up was Fighting Gravity, an act that has Vegas written all over themselves.  The group said they have sacrificed a lot for America’s Got Talent, including taking off the semester from classes and work to take it to the next level.

Their performance tonight was spectacular.  I’m sure it will be in their act in Vegas very soon.

You know the place…they’ll be in the theater next to Jackie Evancho.

Howie said it best…they were really one of the only groups that could follow a 10-year-old opera diva.

Their brand of illusion is so original, America can’t help but love it.  We have to hope they do.

_____________________

And that is your digest of the 8/31 America’s Got Talent Second Semifinals.  It was a stacked night, and it will be hard to wrong.

Be sure to join us tomorrow for the results show here at nobodysview.wordpress.com

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