Last year, Sonny and Cher hit the stage at Soldotna High School to perform "I Got You Babe." At least the performers looked and sounded like Sonny and Cher, if not slightly shorter.
On March 8, area kids have the opportunity to take on the celebrity personality of their choice to perform at Showin' Off the Kids, a lip-synching competition put on by Community Schools.
"We get some really creative (acts)," said Carmen Triana, the event's organizer. "They have props, they have the whole nine yards. They're not messing around. It's pretty funny. It's definitely kids performing and that can be pretty fun sometimes. You'd be amazed at how many adults go that don't have kids."
The show, which has been put on for more than 20 years, is open to all kids between kindergarten and eighth grade.
"Any kid can do it all they have to do is turn in their music," Triana said. "It's a chance for kids in the community to shine."
Triana said that just about every style of music is represented at the show, including country, music from the 50s and 60s, and more recent tunes.
"I'm expecting we'll see some Hannah Montana (this year)," Triana said.
According to Triana, the Soldotna High School's Swing Choir is an instrumental part of the show. Choir members dress in their formal wear and help backstage. One member also sits on the judges panel.
"A lot times we have kids in the swing choir who were in the show when they were younger," Triana said. "One of the highlights is that they remember being in the show and the kids look up to them so much because they're in high school. (It's) a chance for them to really mentor and for the kids to kind of see them as an example."
The number of acts in the show varies from year to year. According to Triana, there were 53 acts that included 102 kids in 1992, but another year there were only 21 acts. Triana said she has seen decreased involvement in recent years.
"I think it gets lower just because there's a lot for kids to do," she said.
Regardless of the lower numbers, she said that there are still plenty who return to perform every year.
"We definitely have a following when we get kids that have done it year after year," Triana said. "Last year they were (already) telling me, 'Oh, I know what song I'm doing next year.'"
First-, second- and third-place as well as a judges' choice awards are given in each of the competition's three age groups. First place takes home $100, second gets $75 and third place receives $60. Each winner also gets an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. Performers who don't place are put in a drawing to win savings bonds and each participant gets a coupon for a free blizzard from Dairy Queen.
"I've had kids tell me, 'We don't even care about the $100, we're here for the blizzard,'" Triana said.
Applications, along with two-minute taped selections, are due on Friday and Triana noted that there is a mandatory dress rehearsal at 4 p.m. the night before the show.
"It gives us a chance to look at movements and look at costumes," she said.
Community Schools put emphasis on keeping the show clean for the whole family.
"I think it's a positive thing for the participants on stage but it's also a positive thing for the audience because it's all G-rated."
Tickets for the show are $5 for adults and $3 for kids.
"We try to use that money for youth activities here in the community," Triana said. "(The money is) not just going to the ticket, it's being used positively for the kids."
Applications can be downloaded from the Community Schools Web site at http://www.ci.soldotna.ak.us/communityschools.html. They are also available at the Soldotna Dairy Queen, where they should be submitted.
"Everyone can participate. ... We want (the kids) to shine," Triana said. "It takes a lot of courage to get on the stage."
Hannahlee Allers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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