cast of last night karaokeThe cast of “Last Night Karaoke” hammed it up during a recent photo shoot this week to promote the Georgetown College Maskrafters production at the Upbeat Café downtown (Oct. 17-18) and the Student Center Grille (Oct. 19). Did they return from the College’s Fall Break this week refreshed – OR will they sound “karaoke?” Front row, left-to-right: Shannon Brunk, Madeline Gannon, Stu Perry, Shawn McPeek; second row: Angee Hiller, Sidney Hall, Kristin Dickinson, Emily Faulkner, Courtney Mueller, Jonathan Yelton; top row: Dominique Higdon, Tracey Tevis, Amanda Kachler; Lana Harden

As Georgetown College Maskrafters director George McGee would say, the spotlight is a powerful beam. For anyone who’s longed to step into the light but hasn’t quite worked up the nerve, you’re certain to identify with his talented student “contestants” this weekend in “Last Night Karaoke.” Or, if you just like to judge, your vote is crucial.

The first two shows of this interactive play-with-music, written and directed by McGee, are Friday and Saturday (Oct. 17-18) at Georgetown’s Upbeat Café, 111 N. Broadway; Sunday night it moves to the College’s Grille in Cralle Student Center. Tickets, priced at $4 for students and $5 for adults, are available at The Store (863-8134). All performances begin at 8 p.m. and run just under an hour.

The story? “It’s the last night for Karaoke at Nick’s Bar and Grill,” said McGee, chairman of the College’s Theatre & Performance Studies department. “Nick Cavalleni is going to retire to Florida and his son and daughter are taking over the neighborhood establishment. Nicky Jr. is planning to turn to local pub into a franchise ‘Wine’ bar. To celebrate the end of an era, the bar is going to hold a Karaoke contest. It’s an evening of memories, celebration and $1,000 for the winner of the Karaoke contest.”

In true “American Idol” style, audience members will have the chance to vote for their favorite performer at the end of the night. “It brings the action to the audience so they feel like they’re in the show,” said Madeline Gannon, a sophomore from Mount Sterling who plays Shelia in the show.

That also means the outcome of who wins the prize could be different each night of the show – and each theatre patron is vital. Said Stu Perry (Nick Jr.), a sophomore from Crestwood, “It keeps everyone ‘competing’ to their highest ability, and makes sure it doesn’t turn into a routine show.”

Karaoke is often associated with some less-than-average singing, but this one-act play promises only the best. The singers in “Karaoke” made it to the final round of the competition, while any struggling performers (think William Hung, who butchered “She Bangs” on “American Idol”) were already weeded out. The bartenders do join in for one off-key ensemble number, Garth Brooks hit “Friends In Low Places.”

One of the singers, Kristin Dickinson, a senior from Trenton (Todd County), KY, knows the thrill of karaoke first hand. She and a male friend from back home once competed at Kicker’s in Clarksville, TN, singing “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” as a duet. “We didn’t win, but we did place second!”

Dickinson offers this explanation of “Last Night Karaoke” for the wary: “There’s a script, but as soon as audience members arrive at the cafe, it’s going to become more like an improvisation show. The script is cleverly written, but the personalities of the actors that were cast really add to the lines. Hopefully, both the acting and the singing will be entertaining, and theatre-goers and karaoke lovers alike will enjoy it.”

“Last Night Karaoke” isn’t merely entertaining, according to McGee, there’s a lesson to be learned as well. “Some things are more important and bigger than the individual…Nick makes a decision that affects more than just himself or his immediate family.”