By Adrianna Jaccoma
The 13th annual ” R Factor” auditions took place Friday night in the Yvonne Theater. Students eagerly filled the seats of the theater, ready to cheer on their friends and favorite performers. Crowds formed in the lobby of the Fine Arts building, anxiously awaiting for the theater to open. Soon enough, the theater filled with 400 students who were all excited to welcome back the campus tradition.
The judges panel for the night included former Rider student and DJ, Ezra Hill, previous “X-Factor” finalist Dani Knights, theater performer and associate dean of campus life Nick Barbati and creative director for Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé, Heather Thompson.
“R Factor now just feels like home to me… I consider this a holiday, this to me is like Christmas. I just love it so much,” Knight said.
First out of the gate was returning R Factor contestant, senior English and psychology major Christine Ruggieri, singing “Somebody To Love” by Queen, earning the first seat in the competition.
Later we heard from sophomore communications major Michaela Smith, who sang “Yours” by Conan Gray.
“I’m just really excited to sing and perform with all these incredibly awesome people,” Smith said. “I just really love performing and I’ve been doing it ever since I was in high school.”
Smith earned herself a seat in the competition after blowing the judges away with her rendition of the Conan Gray song. “I don’t know that song, but you made it your song,” Thompson said.
Things started getting interesting when junior arts and entertainment industries management major Ida DeMarco sang “Bound to You” by Christina Aguilera.
“I’ve always loved performing and this is just my way of getting my voice out and heard,” DeMarco said, “I do have a song on Spotify right now that just dropped, so hopefully I can get my voice heard and get people to love music as much as I do.”
Later in the competition we heard from junior supply chain management major KC O’Brien, who blew everyone away with “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban. The audience loved him and even got their phone flashlights out, swaying along to the song.
The crowd got into every performance and were passionate about who they wanted to get a seat. “…I’m gonna let the crowd know that I left my wallet in my car, so when you guys jump me on the way to my car, you’re not getting anything,” Hill joked later in the competition.
Ruggieri, O’Brien, DeMarco and junior musical theater major Skylar Noyes held their seats until freshman acting major Nicholas Grzywacz came in and changed that. His rendition of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra earned him a seat in the competition.
Next we heard from sophomore music production major Jennie Mae Sprouse, who gave a performance of “Traitor” by Olivia Rodrigo. After the performance, Barbati had a big decision to make. He decided to make a team with Sprouse and DeMarco, something that hasn’t been done in a while during the “R Factor” competition.
Hill later followed in this decision by making another team of Grzywacz and sophomore musical theater major Breanna Lemerise.
The final performance of the night was from sophomore film major Will Dusinberre, who had the crowd in the palm of his hands from the second he stepped on stage. Dusinberre performed “Goodbye Carolina” by Marcus King, receiving a standing ovation- a great way to end the night.
The finalists for the night are Sprouse, DeMarco, senior music education major Azhannet Blackwell, Lemerise, Grywacz and Ruggieri and wildcards, Smith, O’Brien and Dusinberre.
The finale will take place on Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Yvonne Theater. Stay tuned for who will take home the title of “the R Factor” Champion 2022!