By Lauren Cavazzini and Samantha Brandbergh
The 2016 best campus tradition plans on stepping up its production to maintain, or even increase, the show’s mass popularity.
Auditions for R Factor Season 8: The Two-Chair Challenge will be held on Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. in the Yvonne Theater. The audition process will remain primarily the same, with 27 students trying out for one of the six available spots to advance to the final on Sept. 29.
Each contestant auditioning will have the chance to represent one of the three judges and join his or her team.
One addition to this year’s show is Dez Duron, a prior contestant on The Voice, who will serve as a judge.
“I’m so excited to have him join the panel,” said Nicholas Barbati, assistant director of campus life and R Factor mentor and judge. “He has done a couple of shows for us here at Rider, and he just has a lot of energy and loves our students, so I think he’s going to be a tremendous addition to our panel.”
Returning R Factor mentor Dani Knights will serve as the third judge.
Senior musical theater major Essence Williams and junior musical theater major Lancelot Douglas will be making their hosting debut this year, as well.
The finals this year will have a brand new feature: the show will be livestreamed on the Office of Campus Life’s Facebook page. Friends and family back home can now root for their favorite contestants, as if they were there in the audience. Voting, however, will still be limited to the student body.
“I think a lot more people will be tuned in this year,” Williams said. “It’s an opportunity for parents to see their kids perform, so there will probably be a lot of families watching.”
Proven by packed audiences year after year, R Factor has remained one of the most anticipated events on Rider’s campus since its start in 2012. For Barbati, it’s the enthusiasm of the students that allows the event to remain a success.
“I really believe that it has the best energy of any program that we have on campus,” Barbati said. “I’m so excited for our new students to experience it and our returning students to be re-immersed in the experience.”
For Williams, the professionalism of the production is another reason students continue to come every year.
“It’s awesome to see something like that happen at our school,” she said. “It’s a fun thing to do, to see your friends sing.”
Earning the title of Best Campus Tradition by the National Association of Campus Activities, however, comes with great responsibility.
“With anything, there’s always pressure,” Williams said. “They have to really focus on keeping that name and find new ways to make [R Factor] better from what it already is.”
Although the auditions are approaching quickly, there is still time to sign up. Registration to audition is at noon on Sept. 14. Students wanting to experience this event are strongly encouraged to get to the theater early to ensure seating.
“Usually, the final is an immediate sellout in terms of its first-come, first-serve seating and we have overflow seating,” Barbati said. “The auditions always start with a few seats leftover but other students trickle in and fill it out, so I would strongly suggest getting there early. The auditions are every bit as amazing as the final.”
Published in the 9/13 edition.