BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — Call it Angie fever.
As Angela Miller continues to advance on “American Idol,” the city has ramped up its support for the 19-year-old Beverly High School graduate.
Tonight, the public is invited to attend a community rally at the high school, where large screens will be set up for people to watch the show and root for Miller.
Beverly High singers and musicians, many of whom performed with Miller in the high school musical last year, will perform live during the commercials.
“This community is really rallying behind her,” Principal Sean Gallagher said.
The event will go from 7:30 to about 10:15 p.m. “American Idol” is on from 8 to 10 p.m. There is no charge to attend.
Gallagher said school officials aren’t sure how many people will show up, but screens will be in both the cafeteria and auditorium to accommodate an overflow crowd.
School officials have invited cast members from the school’s recent performance of “West Side Story,” as well as members of the chorus and bands, to perform during the commercial breaks.
“We want to make it a fun, festive event,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher said the event will go until about 10:15 p.m. in order to give people time to vote for Miller. The voting begins when the show ends at 10 p.m.
Miller is one of seven finalists on “American Idol,” a show that attracts about 17 million viewers. The seven contestants will perform tonight, followed by another show tomorrow night when it will be revealed which singer will not advance to the next round, as determined by the public’s vote.
Miller has captured the attention of not only her hometown but the entire country with her rise to stardom on “American Idol.” Last year at this time, she was performing in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at Beverly High School.
North Shore Music Theatre owner Bill Hanney gave an indication of how dramatic Miller’s ascent has been when he told the City Council on Monday night that Miller and her mother, Tana, auditioned for roles in “Hello, Dolly!” last year and were not selected.
“That shows what we know,” Hanney said.
Signs supporting Miller have sprung up all around Beverly over the last few weeks, and “Angie’s Team” T-shirts have become a big seller.
Two Centerville School fifth-graders, Kristen Kalivas and Ella Colten, raised money to have two banners made in support of Miller. They put one of them up at Harry Ball Field, directly across from Miller’s house on Essex Street, and another at Cahill Park next to the Centerville School.
“They wanted her to feel the love and support from our city,” said Holly Kalivas, Kristen’s mother.
Gallagher said Miller has been rehearsing 10 to 12 hours per day in California, where the show is based, and Fox TV has kept her mostly off-limits to the outside world. But he said her friends have been texting her about tonight’s rally at the high school.
“We want her to know going into (tonight’s) performance that this entire community is behind her,” he said.
If Miller makes it to the final three contestants, she will return to Beverly so that “American Idol” can tape a “homecoming” segment.
Gin Wallace, executive director of Beverly Main Streets, said those events are tightly controlled by Fox.
“They tell you what to do, then they rely on the community to make it happen,” Wallace said. “We kind of have to wait and see what they tell us.”
She is enthusiastic about Miller’s chances: “We know she’s going to make it to the top three,” she said.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.