Fourteen-year-old St Flannan’s College pupil Ben Escorcio, who lives in Miltown, has qualified for the semi-final stages of the All-Ireland Talent Show, which will be shown on Sunday, January 31 on RTÉ 1.
“Well, for as long as I can remember,” Ben replied when asked how long he has been singing.
In fact, he migrated, with his family, from Britain to Australia at seven and has since been gathering experience in the music industry. His theatrical credits range from the rebellious Gavroche in Les Miserables, to the cheerful Cabin Boy in a production of The Pirates of Penzance. The latter part was written specifically for Ben and resulted in a Music Theatre Guild of Victoria nomination.
Prior to these collaborations with Melbourne’s largest amateur productions company, Ben filled roles in plays including Oliver and A Christmas Carol.
“At the time, I just loved getting up on stage and becoming a character, then I began to realise, what I really loved was the music” he explained.
Ben was 13 when he, his parents and his two brothers moved to Clare.
“We wanted to be closer to family. My mum’s parents and brothers are from Clare and we have cousins in Cork,” he said.
Ben has joined Clare’s Lismorahaun singers and took up singing lessons with the choir’s founder, Archie Simpson. With them he has sung Mozart’s Great Mass and a Christmas concert, as well as solo items within the concerts. With a growing reputation, Ben decided to enter West Clare’s Got Talent. Proceeding through the heats to the finals, he came away with first prize. Last year, Ben confronted the auditioning process for RTÉ 1’s Jam the Musical, winning a place in one of the competing teams. The show documented the lead up to a live sing-off between groups that had compiled numbers from some well-known musicals. Peter Corry mentored Ben and his team in their performance of Grease.
“Jam was great fun, I made loads of friends and got to go behind the scenes of television. The amount of work needed to make the lyrics, music, dance, lights and cameras all come together is astounding,” he revealed.
A few weeks ago, Ben made his way to Cork to audition in front of the producers of the All-Ireland Talent Show. After passing through this stage he was required to travel to Dublin for his televised auditions.
“You are put in a great big waiting room and at first, the hundreds of people there are quiet and nervous. But after a few hours of standing around, people start talking and showing off their talents,” he remembers.
On the first day of auditions, John Creeden put Ben through to his final 16.
“It was brilliant. When John said I was through, I could have ran and shrieked with joy, luckily I remembered I was on camera.”
On day two of the auditions, the judges had to narrow down their selection to just eight acts.
Ben was beckoned before his judge and after a gruelling wait, it was announced that he would be competing on behalf of Clare, Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford.
“As soon as we got back home, we began brainstorming for song ideas, with only a few weeks to prepare.”