With a rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” Marana resident Dustin Arellano had the crowd applauding before he was even inside the Tucson Convention Center (TCC), hosting site of the latest round of American Idol auditions.

Arellano, who arrived at the TCC at 4:50 a.m. — more than four hours before the competition was scheduled to start — was one of more than 2,000 hopefuls aiming to make the same favorable impression on the judge panel, which sadly for some fans of the show, was not made up of the same celebrity cast seen on television.

But those in attendance had a bigger motive than meeting celebrities: They wanted to become one.

“Everyone is here doing the same thing,” said Arellano, who has his own YouTube channel and sings locally at rest homes. “Some people look really confident, and some people haven’t said a word. It’s hard to know what to expect.”

That uncertainty was merited as BWR Public Relation’s Katherine Taylor said it was unclear how many performers would advance to the next round, nor was their initial knowledge of how many contestants planned to audition.

“In some cities they take 10, and in some cities they take 100,” she said. 

According to one production supervisor, Tucson marked the biggest turnout in the three West Coast bus tours to date. The other two 

stops were in San Diego and Seattle.

“I can’t say I’m surprised about the turnout,” said Wrangler Saporiti, who made the drive from Phoenix to audition, playing John Legend’s “Tonight.”

The bus tour stopped in 11 total cities before concluding in Oxford, MS. on June 30. 

The first round of competition asked contestants to sing for 30 seconds in front of American Idol producers, who would then determine who advances.

For the 15-year-old Olivia Hsu, who sang Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” advancing was the mission. 

“I’m excited. A little nervous,” she said. “I mean, this is American Idol.”

In May, Fox announced the upcoming season of American Idol would be its last.  Those advancing will have the opportunity to audition in front of celebrity judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban.

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