The great orator Yogi Berra would have been a fine judge on “America’s Got Talent.” The legendary New York Yankee once claimed “It ain’t over till it’s over,” and Daniel Emmet would have to agree.
The Las Vegas vocalist, on hiatus from “The Cocktail Cabaret” at Caesars Palace, is back in the lineup, as it were, for “AGT’s” live shows at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
You might recall that Emmet was dismissed from the NBC competition series July 17, despite a bold and beautiful rendition of the Italian ballad “Caruso.” But after an avalanche of social media posts (and who knew there were so many opera fans on Twitter?), Emmet has been invited back as a wild card.
A nuance to watch for on “AGT,” by the way: If an act or performer who performs flawlessly is told to go home, but is given no solid reason why, don’t be surprised to see that act back as a wild card. That’s Emmet’s odyssey; the judging panel never explained to him or the viewing public where he fell short with “Caruso.”
In a recent phone chat, I asked Emmet where he felt the judges would have found a serious flaw. He said, “Nothing comes to mind.”
Through it all, the 25-year-old Emmet has been reliably diplomatic about his ride with “AGT.” As he says, “I’m just so grateful to everyone who reached out on social media, the outpouring of love from all corners of the globe, and to the judges for bringing me back.”
Emmet, a cool and composed sort, became the focus of an ongoing melodrama initiated by creator and judge Simon Cowell. Cowell, who seems to steer the episodes at his whim, stopped Emmet in midperformance June 19 as he auditioned with an original composition, “Amante.”
The judge swapped that song for “Passera,” covered by Il Divo (which Cowell had conveniently recorded with the pop-vocal superstars in 2004 with his SyCo Music label). On Aug. 10, Il Divo posted an Instagram message congratulating Emmet on his rendition.
Emmet can’t say what he’ll sing next on “AGT,” only that “It’s going to be even bigger, more intense. It is going to be one of the most difficult songs ever sung.”
In the “AGT” mix is another singer with a Vegas connection: Christina Wells. She’s billed as a nurse from Houston — which is true — but what’s not been noted is she’s also a graduate of UNLV’s nursing program. Wells had a job lined up at Summerlin Hospital just a few weeks before graduating in 2014 but could not accept after learning that her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer in Houston.
“I had to go to my momma,” Wells said in a phone interview this month. “She got better, got through it, and I started pursing my passion, which is singing.”
Wells and Emmett actually met before the show’s audition June 19; one of these singers could well win the series championship. Wells captured the judges’ and audience’s fancy with her heartfelt version of “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman.”
The judges did not uniformly praise Wells’ performance, using the oft-lethal term “pitchy,” but she survived.
“That was the famous word,” Wells said, chuckling. “I was surprised by it, and being human in that environment, I had to remember that every time is not perfect.”
But even perfection, or close to it, is not enough for “AGT,” which always produces great theater in its search for great talent.
World of Rock
On the topic of Vegas talent on network competition shows … The Rock Company has advanced to the divisional finals of NBC’s “World of Dance” on Sept. 5.
Under the direction of The Rock Center for Dance’s Quinn Callahan, the junior contemporary dance team advanced after a performance to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” in The Cut on Wednesday. As judge Jennifer Lopez said, “That was poetic, and beautiful, and magical.” No argument here.
(Aussie) Heat is on
The cast of the male revue “Aussie Heat” of the V Theater at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort is producing and headlining “The Vegas Variety Show” to benefit Opportunity Village’s Fine and Performing Arts Program at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The cast gives monthly hip-hop lessons to members of OV’s performing arts program.
Also on the bill are entertainers from “Sexxy,” Stoney’s Rockin’ Country and David Goldrake’s “Imaginarium” as well as Ryan Johnson from Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” and Edwin San Juan from the Las Vegas Live Comedy Club. Tickets are $15 and available at opportunityvillage.org.
Cool hang alert
Calling our own card here for Monday night at the Bootlegger Bistro, where yours truly is guest-hosting Kelly Clinton’s Open-Mic Night. Clinton is out of town and unable to pilot the show. The shindig starts at 9 p.m. and is a promotional effort for the American Cancer Society’s annual Real Men Wear Pink breast cancer awareness and fundraising campaign. I am a Pink Man again this year (support here). Expect singing and frivolity and — as always — no cover.