The Smyrna Opera House will host its second installment of "Open Mic Night" Thursday night. The showcase features local talent hoping to try out new material before friendly, familiar faces.
The Smyrna Opera House will host its second installment of "Open Mic Night" this week, featuring local talent looking to test out material before friendly, familiar faces.
Former SOH Executive Director David Keller added four "Open Mic Nights" to the 2013-14 season calendar, in part, because he saw how much the community seemed to enjoy seeing friends and neighbors standing in the spotlight.
"Our events that feature the talent of local residents are always popular, even more so than some of the big traveling shows that are brought in," Keller said earlier this year.
The night is not just about popularity. Keller added at the time that another goal of the series is to mine more local talent that might be able to serve as opening acts for shows while also giving community members a space for interactive collaboration.
Effective collaboration often requires a comfortable environment, though, and event organizers go to great lengths to create an atmosphere conducive to the casual creativity typical of an open mic night seen in a café or bar. Several rows of seating are gone, leaving a vacant area perfectly sized for nearly 10 white-cloth-covered bistro tables and a back-room bar continuously serving concessions.
Last month, 10 brave performers stood—some with the ease of a weathered professional, others with the nervous jitters of a first-time amateur—in the spotlight. Several will be back this week, including emcee John Loftus and performers Matt McGuigan and John Gorham.
"The first installment consisted of five musical acts and five poets of varied age, experience and style," Loftus said. "They had us thinking, laughing and tapping our toes. What a value for five bucks!"
Originally, artists were going to be charged a $10 registration fee to participate but in the week leading up to the first night of the event, the fee was waived.
"We went back and forth on charging a registration fee for participants," SOH Board Member Barbara Bigelow explained after last month's show. "On the one hand, a fee is motivation to show up for your commitment. On the other hand, we were only charging the audience $5 per person. Ultimately, charging the fee just didn't make sense."
Artists now only need to register in advance of Thursday's performance date to participate. The $5ticket price will stay the same for audience members, allowing guests to see a large cultural return for their investment. The set list for this month's performances was still being finalized at press time but last month's showcase featured three types of entertainment: music, poetry and musical comedy.
"I would like to see more dancers and all different kinds of instruments," Bigelow said immediately following last month's set. "Magicians, storytellers, vocal groups and skits would all be great. It doesn't have to be well-rehearsed. The point is to try stuff out, get feedback and see how the audience reacts."
She also added that it's important to note that the night is intended for a more "mature audience."
"It's local people writing and singing about the issues they see within the community they live in," she said.
The showcase will start at 7 p.m. but the auditorium doors will open at approximately 6:15 p.m. All seats are general admission.