Thousands state their case in Fort Worth for spot on 'Glee.'

Posted 8:37am on Sunday, Jan. 09, 2011

FORT WORTH -- Rashaun Sibley, wearing a Texas Christian University purple Snuggie for warmth, stood for hours in 40-degree downtown Fort Worth weather Saturday in hopes of winning an eventual part on the hit Fox TV show Glee.

First, the 18-year-old TCU student must survive auditions for The Glee Project, a new reality show in which 12 contestants compete for a role in the high school show choir series.

"It's my favorite show because it shows kids like me," Sibley said. "It's about the underdog."

There were about 2,000 underdogs hoping to become top dogs Saturday at the auditions, with about 1,500 preregistered for today's auditions. The Glee Project will debut in June on the Oxygen channel. Saturday's auditions were highlighted by a 4 p.m. appearance by Darren Criss, who plays Blaine in Glee.

One person from the competition will earn a small part on multiple episodes in Glee's new season, which begins in the fall. Whether the winner gets more screen time will depend on viewers' response to the new character.

"We don't know what that character will be," said Robert Ulrich, casting director of The Glee Project. "It will depend on who is cast, and it could be anyone who auditions, of any shape or type."

The Fort Worth auditions follow ones in Chicago, and there will be a third round in Los Angeles. Hopefuls were also eligible to post a video audition online.

From that field, there will be 80 to 100 semifinalists, from which 12 finalists will be selected.

The contenders were ushered into rooms in groups of four, and each sang 16 bars of one of 10 songs from an audition list. Tunes ranged from musical theater numbers, such as And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going, from Dreamgirls, to pop hits like Baby One More Time, by Britney Spears.

Those who made it past that round were taken to another singing audition and were then interviewed. Contestants who advanced past those three rounds were moved to a holding room, where they awaited a screen test.

"It was the most nerve-racking experience of my life," said Jared Henderson, 18, of San Antonio, who made it through the first round. "I've never done anything like that in my life."

Henderson braved the cold weather in a line that stretched five blocks to the Norris Conference Center -- the old AMC Sundance 11 movie theater -- on Houston Street. Some hopefuls arrived as early as 1 a.m. and camped out.

Many were musical theater performers just out of high school. Others had never auditioned for anything requiring singing.

Patrick Agustin, a financial analyst from Washington, D.C., was in the latter category. "I love the show, and I want the opportunity to perform," he said. "Growing up, the focus for my family has been about making money."

Alex Valle, 23, of Dallas, who has appeared onstage at Theatre Three and other venues, met Agustin in line along with contestants from Wisconsin and Arkansas. "That's what's so great about this," Valle said. "You can be a theater person or from some other background and have an equal shot at making it."

One of those who hopes she gets it is Angelika Ramsdell, 21, of Lawton, Okla. The guitar-wielding vocal performance major at Cameron University promised to bring unity to Glee's fractious but fictional Ohio high school cast.

"I'm friends with everyone," she said. "I would mend the social gap between the glee club kids and everyone else in the school."

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