It was 2:30 a.m. when Rashal Williams and her mother pulled up to Fort Caspar in the dark.
Auditions were nearly six hours away, and a waiting line had yet to form, but the 16-year-old was ready, her short, blond hair neatly parted, her lucky musical note necklace fastened around her neck.
She had Toby Keith and Lindsey Haun’s “Broken Bridges” prepared.
When three other singers arrived, Williams joined the line. No one wanted to sing first, so they nudged Williams to the front.
She didn’t mind. Williams has been belting it out since she was 2 ½, when her mom was performing at a wedding and Williams started to sing along, stealing the show.
“It’s always been my dream to sing,” said Williams, a senior at Natrona County High School. “I want to be an American Idol.”
As hours passed, the line grew long behind her. People drove in from Rock Springs, Gillette and Buffalo in the early morning hours. One group of Casper singers camped out in their cars all night, singing camp songs and fixing their makeup in the parking lot before joining the line.
Some 700 singers performed in front of producers Wednesday, all hoping to be cast on the next season of the Fox TV show “American Idol.” The 45-foot mobile audition bus pulled into Fort Caspar for eight hours of auditions, with Casper being the third of 10 stops in the show’s “American Idol Small Town Audition Bus Tour.”
Some singers from the Casper auditions did make it to the next round of competition, although officials with the show declined to say how many. The location of the next round has yet to be announced.
Show producers said the goal of the tour was to reach singers who may not be able to get to the larger cities where auditions usually take place. Senior producer Katie Fennelly said they looked at a map of the country and chose places they hadn’t been to before. Coming to Wyoming offered new voices and new locations to shoot.
“We want to leave no stone unturned,” Fennelly said.
Producers also had success in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Billings, Mont., the two cities they visited before coming to Casper, said senior producer Norm Betts, with a number of singers moving to the next round.
Just before Casper auditions began at 8 a.m., the waiting line snaked around the fort’s front lawn, about 400 people deep. “Idol” hopefuls sang and shouted for camera crews and warmed up their voices.
Sixteen-year-old Aubrey Horning of Gillette prepared the Beatles song “Let It Be” for the auditions, her second time trying out for the show. Horning traveled to Oklahoma City several weeks ago, one of thousands to audition there, and didn’t move on to the next round.
She has wanted to be on “American Idol” since watching Jordin Sparks on the show’s sixth season. She wanted to meet other singers and stars, just like Sparks had. So she drove to Casper the night before the local audition and got in line at 4 a.m.
Twins Sable and Sabrina Campbell of Casper have watched “Idol” since the beginning, when Kelly Clarkson won. The sisters have been singing for as long as they can remember, so they prepared Ashanti and Beyonce songs when Sable heard from a friend that auditions were coming to town.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” Sable Campbell said, “but here we are.”
All Alissa Williams, 22, was hoping for was a chance to make it through the first round. She dropped off her two kids at day care and drove down from Buffalo to audition. Williams’ mother played a lot of Pam Tillis albums when Williams was growing up, so she chose to try out for “Idol” with a rendition of Tillis’ “Shake the Sugar Tree.”
“I’m scared. I’m really nervous,” she said while waiting in line. “I feel like I might pee my pants.”
While in town, crews were expected to film other sites around Casper for possible inclusion in the 12th season of “American Idol,” scheduled to air in January.
After Wyoming, the audition bus has stops planned for Rock Rapids and Iowa City in Iowa; Bowling Green, Ky.; Clarksdale, Miss.; Joplin, Mo.; Dodge City, Kan.; and Grand Junction, Colo.