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Lorain Palace Theatre plans musical competition



Morning Journal file

The Lorain Palace Theatre will host a musical competition that could launch a performer to a private audition for “America’s Got Talent.”


Ohio Dream Night 2015 is March 20 and 21 at the Palace, presented by the Rockin’ on the River concert series. 

The event is a way to showcase local performers while building community awareness about the Rockin’ on the River, said concert organizer Bob Earley. After years in Cuyahoga Falls, the weekly Rockin’ on the River shows will move to Lorain’s Black River Landing for summer 2015.

“This is a winner for everybody,” Earley said about Ohio Dream Night. 

The Dream Night talent search program was started by Wendy Kay, a Florida-based promoter who also operates Utopia Artists. Earley said he has worked with Kay for years booking musical groups for Rockin’ on the River. 

Kay has organized Dream Night talent shows in Canada, New York, Florida and Oklahoma. 

When Kay explained her dream to find the next big star, Earley said the idea hit him “like a rock” to host such a contest in Lorain. 

“That’s why we’re doing it; we want people to get to know us,” Earley said. “I think she’s got a great idea, she’s got a great partnership with America’s Got Talent and this is going to be the biggest one she’s ever had, I’m going to make sure of that.” 

The event could include Lorain-area performers and Earley said he will partner with Lorain City Schools to reach out to student bands who may enter. 

However, the two-night contest is open to anyone and could draw talented hopefuls from elsewhere in Ohio or the region, Kay said. 

The program will have three age categories: 9 to 17; 18 to 29; and 30 years and older. 

Winners from each category will receive $500. 

The top act will win another $500, the chance to perform at Rockin’ on the River and a private audition for “America’s Got Talent,” the NBC reality show in which budding entertainers perform for judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel. 

However, every contestant is a winner because they get to meet judges who have experience working as professional musicians and entertainers, Kay said.  

“We like to present to the artist a chance to learn, to be mentored, not just winning,” Kay said. “Winning is ancillary.” 

The contest goes a step beyond simply winning contests with online videos or karaoke, she said. The judges want to find serious musicians who want to take their gifts and make a career, she said.  

“It’s a lot of fun and very rewarding,” Kay said. 

Contestants must enter online and the top groups will be selected to perform on a Friday night; the best among those performers will return the following night for a final round, Kay said. 

The entrants’ performances at the Palace Theatre will be open to the public; there may be an admission charge, but Earley said exact details about the show were not set yet. 

The Lorain judges will include Cleveland singer Debi Lewin and David Spero, the Cleveland native who managed Joe Walsh and Michael Stanley. Earley added he hopes to land another nationally known rock n’ roll singer as a judge, but did not have the participation confirmed yet. 

The Ohio Dream Night contest details are available through dreamnighttalentsearch.com. It also is listed at talentwatch.net, an online forum started in 2010 to give aspiring music artists an equal chance to be discovered, said founder and chief executive officer Gary Alan. 

The city administration is embracing the show as another way to show off Lorain and give people a reason to visit, said Safety-Service Director Robert Fowler. He also credited Earley for his work promoting Lorain, a city where Earley is still a new member of the community. 

“We’re going to host an event that no one else in the state will have,” Fowler said. “That’s an honor and a privilege and we have to make sure it’s successful.”