Rich Heldenfels

Early on the morning of Dec. 10, the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland is going to be invaded by singers, dancers, jugglers, magicians and other folks who believe they’ve got TV-ready skills.

America’s Got Talent, the NBC competition hosted by Nick Cannon, will be there for auditions for its 12th season, to air in 2017.

Cleveland will be one of 10 cities to host auditions; the other four announced so far are Chicago, Austin, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. This is the show’s first visit here, producer Adam Davis said on Friday, although it has been to Ohio locations including Cincinnati and Columbus.

And Cleveland has played host to TV auditions before, notably when American Idol drew an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people to Browns Stadium in 2004.

Speaking from the offices of NBC affiliate WKYC (Channel 3), Davis expects a good-sized crowd in Cleveland, both of performers from Northeast Ohio and from outside the region. He compared the likely turnout to the 2,500 to 3,000 people who came to Detroit tryouts in November 2015.

Ten to 15 producers will see and hear AGT hopefuls, Davis said. There will also be cameras rolling all through the auditions to capture moments.

“It’s not just sitting in a dark room waiting for your number to be called,” he said. “We are filming this. When you’re inside the convention center, you are in front of TV cameras, which means that’s when your AGT experience starts.”

While Cleveland in December is tricky, Davis said, “We want people to know they won’t be outside waiting. We’ll keep them warm. …

“We don’t want to be cold either,” he said with a laugh. “We’re L.A. people.”

When the auditions here and elsewhere are done, the producers will take all that video back to Los Angeles. They’ll sort through that, and video auditions posted via www.americasgottalentauditions.com (where contestants can also register for city auditions and find a lot of information about the way auditions work).

Then they will decide who deserves to perform for the show’s judges (currently Simon Cowell, also an executive producer; Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B). That decision can take six to eight weeks after the last city’s auditions.

And, if the idea of traveling to Cleveland on a wintry day is too depressing, don’t rule out a video audition. Twelve-year-old singing sensation Grace VanderWaal, who’s in the semifinals of the current season, was found via video.

“The [talent] expectations are high, but we know that America still has some undiscovered superstars out there,” Davis said.

There’s no fixed number of contestants from a specific city. “We like to take as many people as we can to the celebrity rounds. We don’t have a number that we have to reach. … It really is determined by the talent that turns out.”

What kind of talent are they looking for? It seems as if every year brings at least one cute kid and one unlikely-looking performer with a big voice. But Davis emphasized, while there will always be singers, the show is open to any kind of performing skill.

“We are looking for something we’ve never seen or heard,” he said. “We’re looking for someone who can walk into a room and own a stage like the Dolby Theatre stage [used by the show]. … When you walk into this audition, you need to treat it like the Dolby stage. We’re looking for that person that just captures our attention, not only with their talent but with their personality. … We want someone who has the dream, has the drive and has the talent to back it up.”

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal, Ohio.com, Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582.