Being the judge

Published 3:56 pm Saturday, July 24, 2010

Susan Hansen has been a performer since she was a young child, spending time on stage and in TV commercials, while even living in Hollywood for eight years.

Scott Anderson is also a veteran performer — the current director of the Paramount Theatre also plays bass for the band Plan B and has been involved with music his whole life.

But these two won’t be the stars on Aug. 14. Instead, they’ll be judging some of the most talented people in the area as they take the stage at the annual Mower County Fair Talent Show.

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“It’s exciting for me,” Hansen said. “I’m a big arts supporter.”

Added Anderson: “It’s kind of an honor.”

The two judges will be evaluating a number of competitors across three divisions — pre-teen, teen and open. Last year, there were 23 entrants overall, and show organizer Vandy Newman said she hopes to have 20 to 25 signed up again this year.

Neither Hansen nor Anderson have judged a talent show before, but both said they would simply be looking for people who have the most well-rounded skills and best stage presence.

And they very well could be looking at people with skills in diverse areas — Newman said the show is open to anyone with talent, whether it be in singing, dancing, juggling or something else altogether.

No matter what types of displays they see, Anderson and Hansen said they would not judge like Simon Cowell, the notoriously snide talent evaluator on “American Idol.”

Instead, both said it’s important to offer constructive feedback to all the competitors so they go home feeling good about themselves. To Hansen, the idea of boosting confidence in young performers hits close to home — she said she struggled with stage fright for a number of years.

“I was too scared until I was about 16,” Hansen said.

Now, Hansen hopes that as a judge — and as a theater instructor at Riverland Community College — she can help young performers get and stay confident.

“I really want to teach people to get over their fear,” she said. “I’m so excited to see (young talent).”

Anderson, too, understands the importance of confidence. As director of Austin’s historic Paramount Theater since 2001, he’s seen a number of people grace the stage. The key to a successful, confident performance? Practice, practice, practice.

“Every minute on stage is huge,” he said.