Move over, America: ‘CMT’s Got Talent,’ too. And lots of it.

Everyone loves a talent show, it seems, including NBC, whose “America’s Got Talent” is so ubiquitous in August that you could go into Simon Cowell-phylactic shock. And now there’s a local Fresno version vying for your attention, thanks to Children’s Musical Theaterworks. The first ever “CMT’s Got Talent” plays Friday, Aug. 17, at the Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

Abigail Paxton and Hannah Huyck head the CMT creative team for the show. They helped come up with Five Things to Know about the big event:


Yes, the contestants are young. And talented.

“Because CMT is a children’s company, the competitors are aged 6-18 years old,” Paxton says. “They serve as reminders that at any age, talent can be cultivated with passion and perseverance to become an impressive skill.”

Each act auditioned to compete, and the acts range from vocal performance and hip-hop dance to an instrumental band, and many more. “These kids have developed their acts individually and are ready to showcase their craft,” she says.


The show has ‘respondents,’ not judges.


In other words, there will be no sarcastic comments or degrading any of the contestants.

“Their purpose is to suggest constructive feedback and encourage performance growth to each act of the evening,” Paxton says. “Our panel of respondents consists of CMT fan favorites who have graduated to become professionals in their field. The CMT program played a pivotal role in their performing arts development. These prestigious alumni are eager to come back and contribute to a program that creates an outlet for young performers in the Fresno theater community.”

You can win a pair of tickets to “CMT’s Got Talent.” To enter, leave a comment on this post answering this question: If you could wish for any talent that you’d get just for one day, what would it be? (Or, if you’re too shy, tell us why you’d like to go to the show.) Deadline to enter is 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16. (Note: These tickets are for the show only, not the reception beforehand.) Winner will be picked at random. 

The respondents are Megan Rupe (a reporter and anchor at KSEE24 and CBS47), Matthew Wheeler, (a composer, music director and conductor), Michael Dumas (NBC’s “World of Dance”) and Maddie Allen (a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and a sophomore Syracuse University studying musical theater.

In the second act, the respondents will each get a chance to relive memories by performing on the CMT stage.


Don’t miss the chance to see Michael Willett perform.

Willett, pictured at top, is a CMT alum who was in his first show at age 7. He starred in the indie film “G.B.F.” and had a 16-episode run on the Showtime series “The United States of Tara,” made his debut at age 7 with CMT. He’s had guest starring roles on “Joan of Arcadia,” “Without a Trace,” “Cougar Town,” and “Blue Mountain State,” and he played Shane on the MTV comedy series “Faking It.” As a musician, he released his first album, “Regeneration,” in 2016. His latest project is Pink Sunglasses,” which he’s taking on tour.

Willett came to Fresno in December to perform for a Good Company Players Junior Company benefit. (He’s loyal to his roots.) You can read an extensive interview with him here.


You get to vote for the winner. (And sip wine, if you so desire.)


Paxton says that CMT regulars have been begging the board for an “America’s Got Talent” variety show. “Just like on TV, the audience has the opportunity to vote during intermission for their favorite act of the evening,” she says. Additionally, our panel of respondents will each receive a 25% weighted vote for their favorite act. So the winner of the grand prize could be in anybody’s hands!”

Don’t forget that the show is the sole fundraiser for the 2019 CMT season. (The company is a non-profit organization.) The reception, which requires an upgraded ticket, takes place in the theater lobby and includes wine and hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, and good company. Paxton notes that CMT produces four large productions a year on a massive, professional scale, which each show averaging a $40,000 budget. You can reserve a spot at for the reception.


There’s a great grand prize for the winner.

The “basket of opportunity” consists of free tuition for performers in the 2019 CMT season, CMT season tickets, additional tickets to local theatrical events and productions, one pair of jazz shoes, three private vocal lessons with Shannah Estep, one private dance workshop with Josh Montgomery, two private acting lessons through CMT … and a $500 cash prize, “just for fun,” Paxton says.

That’s a great incentive for an aspiring performer.

Show info

“CMT’s Got Talent,” Friday, Aug. 17, Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Reception starts at 5:30 p.m. Tickets (including show) are $40 adults, $10 children. Performance starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 adults, $10 children.


Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (2)

  • Michelle Olson

    Just one day? Singing tap dancer, please!

  • Caty Perez

    I would love to go and take my son!


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