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Audition calls for all young stars

(ran East edition)

Future stars, it's time to shine.

The Heritage Arts Center Association has put out the call for contestants in the group's 22nd Spotlight on Talent show, an annual event that draws scores of young performers vying for cash and honors.

It's sort of like Pasco County's version of American Idol, Spotlight on Talent producer Barbara Friedman explained.

Because of demands on the show's venue, this year's event will be held earlier than usual, so it's especially urgent for contestants to sign up early, she said.

There's no recording contract, reality television show or national tour at stake, but Friedman said there is the promise of a $100 check to the winners, plus a really big trophy.

Last year, nearly 200 participants, from ages 4 to 18, packed into the performing arts center at Wesley Chapel High School for the first round. Judges had to winnow that down to 39 acts for the finals, held before more than 500 family and friends.

There were singers, dancers, groups and solo acts, all vying for a shot at top honors in three age groups.

Winding down from her audition last year, 11-year-old Kelsey Brown called the effort "nerve-racking."

Friedman said she wished every competitor made the finals, but there's only room for so many in the big final production.

"It's a double-edged sword," she said. "The hard part is that we have to do some elimination, but that's part of competition. Everyone tries to do their best."

Application forms have been distributed to each school music teacher in central and east Pasco County, as well as dance, vocal and instrumental studios, and at the area chambers of commerce. The deadline to turn in applications is Feb. 10. Auditions are Feb. 19 with finals set for March 12.