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Niagara College students star backstage at Canada's Got Talent

Nearly 30 hairstyling and broadcasting students volunteered their skills behind the scenes; ' This show can be life changing for a few and to be a part of that is special'

As aspiring stars took to the Canada’s Got Talent stage in the hopes of impressing a panel of celebrity judges, students in Niagara College’s hairstyling and broadcasting programs showcased skills of their own behind the scenes.

The talent show – featuring dancers, singers, comedians, illusionists and more – premiered on CityTV on March 21 following months of filming at the OLG Stage at Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls.

Nearly 30 students from NC’s hairstyling and broadcasting programs volunteered their skills back-stage from the auditions through to semifinals.

Hairstyling students from all levels of the program worked side stage and in the waiting areas to prepare contestants for their performances with hair, make-up, and touch-ups. Second-and third-year television production students helped with checking in contestants, assisting filming crews, shooting performers, acting as stagehands and audience logistics.

“It was fun to watch all these performers going through their prep before walking out onto the stage. This show can be life changing for a few and to be a part of that is special,” said hairstyling professor Joe Abbruscato.

Abbruscato was eager to give his students a chance to work with Canada’s Got Talent thanks to a connection with broadcasting program coordinator Dutch Vandenberg. Vandenberg’s students have been involved with the popular television show since season one.

“Being a hairstylist does not restrict you to working behind the chair. Many people don’t realize all the different careers that you can have in the hair world,” said Abbruscato, a former salon owner. “Through film and television anything is possible and that’s why I jumped on this opportunity.”

“It was a great experience because we had a chance to work with amazing people – crew, stars and contestants,” said Alicja Bednarek, a first-year hairstyling/barbering student. The Grimsby resident was inspired by working with professional make-up artist Nikki Strachan on set.

“After the recording of CGT, I decided that I would like to spread my wings a little wider, and I’m currently taking a professional make-up course. I hope that I’ve found another hobby and passion that will make me a better beauty professional,” said Bednarek.

In exchange for lending their time and talents to production, NC students earned community service hours, a unique experience to build their resumes, and a valuable chance to network.

“It is these types of real-world experiences that allow our students to apply what they learn in the classroom and labs in a professional setting,” said Vandenberg. “These experiences also offer a lot of great networking opportunities and many of our students have received other production work from this. This is very rewarding for all of our students that participate and I'm proud that we extended this to Joe and his group.”

“This would not have been possible if it wasn’t for our whole hairstyling team who rose to the occasion by volunteering their time to be a part of this,” said Abbruscato.

NC’s Welland Campus will also be on the small screen this season. CGT crews filmed some segments of the show – including contestant profiles – on campus.

NC students will work at the finale of the show in May. Canada’s Got Talent airs weekly on Tuesday’s at 8 p.m. on CityTV.