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Wholl reign Monday as Manteca Idol 2009?
Manteca Idol contestants taking the stage Wednesday night were, from left, Katelyn Johnson, Kaylie Dotson, Thrisha Checketts, Amanda Fleig, Danielle Osoteo, Shellie Hoyt, and Annie Banks. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: Manteca Idol final night
• WHEN: Monday at 7 p.m.
• WHERE: Chez Shari on second floor of Manteca Golf Course clubhouse
• MORE INFO: Call the Boys & Girls Club at 239-KIDS

They’ve reached the crescendo.

There are no more weeks of judge’s choice or funky period pieces.

It’s The Road Hole at St. Andrews.

It’s that moment in the 100-yard dash right before you dip across the finish line.

There’s no doubt that the remaining contestants in Manteca Idol have given everything of themselves to get where they are now, and now it all comes down to Monday when the winner is finally crowned at Chez Shari after a live performance at the Manteca Boys and Girls Club Telethon.

The show even starts early with former hopefuls returning for one last stroll across the stage.

But before I talk about how Wednesday’s performances turned out, I want to take a moment and wish former Idol contestant Brian Rodrigues a speedy recovery from the flu that had him hospitalized earlier this week – something that sends a chill up the spine of anyone with the outbreak of H1N1 strain that can be extremely deadly.

It was during his first performance that Rodrigues won over the crowd by telling everyone he had a newborn girl at home and dedicating “My Girl” in her honor.

And in one of the best Idol fields ever assembled, he managed to make the top five and would have performed at the telethon Monday had he not been stricken by the flu.

My heart and my prayers go out to both him and his family, and I hope that this is just a temporary setback for an otherwise talented crooner.

When it came to Wednesday night however, it was the combination of Shellie Hoyt and Katelyn Johnson that made the price of admission well worth it.

Having to pick an uptempo track and a ballad, Hoyt chose Eva Cassidy’s “Danny Boy” as her slow jam – something that suited her style throughout the competition and made her a pleasure to listen to each and every week.

And while she had typically remained stiff throughout her performance, Hoyt used the entire stage during “Leave The Pieces” by The Wreckers which showed she was not only having fun but was aware of what she needed to work on.

Johnson on the other hand was dynamite with “Gun Powder and Lead” by Miranda Lambert, and she absolutely nailed “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan in a performance that ranks among the best of the entire season.

While she could have easily belted the track Johnson took her time and slowed down – doing the song justice in the process and showing that she has range and the ability to cover the spectrum.

Prior to Wednesday both had won a week (judge’s scores weren’t released in the final week for obvious reasons) so it’ll make for an interesting Monday when we all finally get to see who wears the crown after months of hard work and dedication.

But they weren’t alone in dazzling the crowd.

Teen sensation Annie Banks picked a perfect song with “I’m Only Me When I’m With You” by Taylor Swift, and following it up with “On My Own” from Les Misarables was a beautiful touch.

And resident theater buff Amanda Fleig used Broadway for both of her tracks by first impressing with “So Much Better” from Legally Blonde despite a brief word stumble that she quickly recovered from, and capped off her night with the eloquent “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misarables.

There was also Kaylie Dotson who went all out with the Hannah Montana getup when she sang “Best of Both Worlds,” and Trisha Checketts was her usual cheerful self when she performed “4ever” by The Veronicas.

So now it all comes down to one night – the night of the Boys and Girls Club Telethon – to determine who will walk away with the title of Manteca Idol and Junior Manteca Idol.

Who will it be?

With the crop of talent in this pool it’s hard to make anybody a favorite or a frontrunner.

I guess we’ll just have to come out and see.

The festivities Monday kick-off at Chez Shari at 5:30 when Robyn Glover, Lucia Borragan, Dreama Diaz, Casey Rico, Mickey Lee, Lady Liz, Geleeza Idolyantes, and Elizabeth Acosta. Judi Hoagland will be providing the halftime entertainment for that portion of the night.

The remaining Idol and Junior Idol contestants will perform at the Boys and Girls Club starting at 5:30 p.m., and will then return to Chez Shari and start the absolute final round at the normal time of 7 p.m.