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Quaker Valley graduate seeking America's 'Next Great Star'

| Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009

Quaker Valley High School graduate Joshua Walker is traveling across the country in search of America's next big entertainment star.

He and partner Scott Nelson have put together an "American Idol"-style competition that focuses on college students. Their program will come to Beaver County next week.

Walker, 23, of Sewickley said he and Nelson, 25, wanted entertainment careers and formed a business, LimeLite Productions Inc.

"We wanted to come up with something cool and unique. We knew 'American Idol' was the No. 1 show, and there have been several knock-offs of it. We thought it was ridiculous no one had done a college version of the show," said Walker, executive director for LimeLite.

In the four months since, the two have booked shows across the country.

Although done in an "Idol" format, the show is open to acts other than singers, including contortionists, jugglers and comedians. Producers select six to eight people to perform in the show. While the judges -- local campus personalities -- pick three of them as finalists, the audience's text message votes determine the winner.

Each episode of the show is staged at a different college campus. The first practice show was filmed this year at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. The first show will be in Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

The fifth will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at Community College of Beaver County in Monaca, in the Athletic and Event Center, known as "the dome."

Would-be performers are invited to try out at an open casting call in the Titan Cafe (CCBC cafeteria) from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 1. Most shows involve college students, but everyone is invited to audition or to attend the competition. The winner of the competition receives $500 and gets his or her performance video reviewed by entertainment industry professionals in Nashville, Los Angeles and New York City, show organizers said.

Walker, a 2004 Quaker Valley High School graduate with a degree in radio and television broadcasting and economics from Marietta College, will be host for the free 90-minute stage show.

He said he, Nelson and other crew members will travel more than 9,000 miles this fall to produce the shows. Shows air on LimeLite's Web site, www.NextGreatStar.com .

Nelson, who is from Ohio and works as LimeLite's technical director, conducts a class with students involved in the radio, television and video departments at each college to teach them about television production. The students work with LimeLite staff on the set.

Walker and Nelson hope MTV or another network will pick up the show.

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