ATCO Idol To Warm Up Stuart’s Opera House Thursday

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On Dec. 8, ATCO Idol will take place for the first time at Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville. The event allows those involved with ATCO, an organization provided through the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities to provide various services for those with developmental disabilities, to showcase their musical abilities.

Much like American Idol, contestants get in front of the audience and a panel of judges (at ATCO Idol, participants won’t have to weather the cruel stares of celebrity judges, they’ll instead answer a series of questions from three judges, two of which are retired from ATCO, and one of which currently attends ATCO,) and do their best to win over the crowd and the judges with their chosen tunes.

Leslie Perry, who coordinates ATCO Idol , said that the idea for the event dates back a few years.

“The senior group and I liked to listen to music together; like Hank Williams and George Jones, and we’d all sing and have a good time. Once, on a Friday, David Jacobs, one of the seniors, came over to me and said that he’d really like to be able to sing into a microphone,” said Perry.

That weekend, while looking through a local garage sale, Perry found a functioning microphone, which she purchased and brought in to share with the group the following week.

“Little by little people, more people started joining us because they wanted to sing into the microphone, too,” said Perry. “Pretty soon we had this great big room full of people, and I realized that we really should start entertaining others.”

That idea led to the development of ATCO Idol, which took place for the first year right in the main ATCO building, and later spread to take place at various locations throughout the region, such as the Overhang in Athens.

“It’s a fun thing to do,” said Joe Nicholson, an ATCO client and one of the people slated to perform at this year’s event. “It gets you out for a few hours, and you really can have some fun and talk to your friends.”

Nicholson said that he is looking forward to performing in the impressive space that is Stuart’s Opera House.

“It’s a big stage, and I know that it’s going to be a little scary,” he said.

Perry said that the event will have about 21 contestants taking part in it, and that attendance to the event is entirely donation based. Perry said that she hopes to get other day service in the region involved with the event as it continues to grow.

“When you see the show these guys put on, and all the work that they put into it, you can just see their pride and their excitement,” said Perry. “It just makes your heart warm.”

ATCO Idol is taking place on Dec. 8 at Stuart’s Opera House. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the show is slated to take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.