"Sing for Your Supper" is the title of an old song from the musical "The Boys from Syracuse." Isn't it more fun, though, to sing for cash prizes and a recording session?
That's what the singers in the 11th annual Century Idol competition will be vying for at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Century High School auditorium. The winner will receive $100 plus a two-hour demo recording session at Omega Studios in Rockville, with smaller cash awards for the various runners-up.
This year's five finalists are senior Amanda Donovan, senior Danielle Garratt, junior Dani D'iorio, freshman Maya Parks and freshman Michael Shuler.
Schuler said, "It's a really cool opportunity to do this as a freshman and work with all of these really talented, friendly people."
D'iorio reflected on how she got into the competition: "It feels great to actually get up there. I have kept mostly in hiding since seventh grade," she said. "My friends encouraged me a lot to do it."
Garratt is singing in Century Idol for the second time. "I competed last year. It was a new experience for me, because I had never competed before in a talent competition, and we got really close -- it was like a family," she said.
Since Century High School's mascot is a knight, this year's theme is "A Knight in Hollywood." The "stars" will walk the red carpet at 6:40 p.m., accompanied by "body guards" from the school's football team.
After the singers are in the auditorium, everyone can find a seat and listen to live music from The Usual Suspects, the house band, as they wait for the show to start.
The Usual Suspects, a group of Century juniors -- Joey Marcellino, Garrett Mabe, Joe Vincent and Sam McIntire -- will also accompany the group numbers and perform a set for the audience.
Hosted by Century's Tri-M honor society, the national music honor society, the Century Idol show is the culmination of months of work. Originally, about 30 students did the open-call audition, and 15 of them were picked for callbacks. After the callbacks, the five finalists were selected.
The show's adviser, Melissa Adelmann, Century's choral director and vocal music teacher, said, "We try to get the whole school involved by letting them see who the finalists are in two video rounds."
For the first round this year, the singers performed songs from movie soundtracks. In the second round, they could pick a California or summer sound to sing.
Century students each get to vote on each video round. At the May 3 performance, the audience members will get to vote for their chosen singer.
Somebody needs to keep track of all of those votes, but, luckily, Century has some built-in auditors. "Our math department does the counting of the votes; they're our VIPs for the night," Adelmann said.
What would an Idol competition be without celebrity judges? Century Idol will feature non-voting judges "Keith Urban," portrayed by health teacher Stephen Weatherholt; "Jennifer Lopez," portrayed by math teacher Jackie Dragon; and "Harry Connick Jr.," portrayed by instrumental music teacher Stan Jones.
On Saturday, the finalists will be singing three group songs, as well as their own performance selections. A video biography of each competitor will be shown before he or she sings a solo number.
Last year's winner, Karlie Yates, currently a sophomore at Century, will also perform. Everyone will also get to enjoy the "reject round," described by Adelmann as "a montage video of people [at Century] doing funny things."
Century Idol has a charitable aspect, too. When the box office opens at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, admission will be $10 at the door or $9, if you bring a can of food for Carroll County Food Sunday.
All profits from the refreshment sales will go to support a special project for Convoy of Hope. For the last eight years, Century Idol has helped build schools for orphans in the Methari Valley of Kenya.
In addition to helping others, the Century students are benefiting from the experience, as well. Adelmann summed it up: "We're really excited for the kids to not only have the experience of performing on stage as well as the experience of putting on a show," she said. "[They handle] the technical aspects: sound and lighting, scripting and working backstage."
Century High School is at 355 Ronsdale Road, Eldersburg.