BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — Signs of support for Angela Miller have literally been popping up all over the city over the last few weeks.
Last night, that hometown spirit erupted inside the auditorium of the school from which the 19-year-old “American Idol” star graduated less than a year ago.
About 600 people waved signs, stamped their feet and cheered wildly as their Angie performed from Hollywood on “American Idol” as it was shown live on a big screen at Beverly High School.
Their loyalty was rewarded when Miller, who had been informed of the hometown rally via a text from her best friend, Lydia Hester, held up a handwritten sign that read “Shout out to Beverly High School.”
“She was amazing, obviously,” Hester said after Miller’s rendition of “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence. “She killed it.”
“That last note was the money note,” senior Carly Moffie said. “I was waiting for that.”
The “community rally” in support of Miller was thrown together quickly, but it went off seamlessly and attracted a good-sized crowd, nearly filling the 750-seat auditorium.
Principal Sean Gallagher, wearing a black-and-orange “Team Angie” T-shirt, served as host (“Sean Seacrest,” as Assistant Principal Dan Bauer called him), and more than a dozen Beverly High students took turns singing songs during the commercial breaks.
“It was like the Super Bowl. People looked forward to the commercials,” Gallagher said afterward. “It was awesome. What a great night for the community.”
The auditorium was filled not just with high school students but with kids as young as 6 or 7 and a few grandparents. Susanne Macdonald of Beverly said that when she heard about the event, she immediately thought of bringing her 12-year-old niece, Mackenzie Robertson of Danvers.
“I’ve been following Angie’s story, and she’s a great role model for young women who are interested in music and singing,” Macdonald said. “I love that she’s a role model and she’s only 19.”
Jessica Donahue said she and her 8-year-old daughter, Makayla Jones, have been watching Miller as she has progressed on “American Idol.”
“It’s just really cool to have a hometown girl in the competition,” Donahue said. “We watch it every year, and this is an added bonus.”
Organizers of the event set up a photo booth where people could get their pictures taken, with the photos to be emailed to Miller. Dozens of people signed their names to a large orange sign that read “Beverly Loves Angie.” “Team Angie” T-shirts were on sale, with some of the proceeds going to the high school music department.
Miller is one of seven singers remaining on the show, which attracts as many as 17 million viewers. One of the seven will be eliminated through viewer voting that will be announced on tonight’s show.
The four judges gave Miller high marks for her solo performance last night, as well as for her duet with fellow contestant Lazaro Arbos.
“Angie, you were amazing as usual,” Randy Jackson said.
Gallagher said school officials will decide next week whether they will continue to have the rallies if Miller keeps moving on.
Miller’s rise to stardom has been especially thrilling for her friends at the high school. Hester flew out to Hollywood to watch last week’s show, but otherwise they’ve been keeping in touch with her via phone calls and texts.
“It’s so great to see such a great girl have success,” said senior Marc Babcock, who performed with Miller last year in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” “She’s such a sweet girl who cares and is so genuine.”
Moffie, who starred in “West Side Story” at the high school last month, said Miller took the time to call her and ask how the show was going.
Hester said it’s been difficult for her because she hasn’t been able to spend as much time with Miller, who has been in Hollywood for most of the past few weeks. But, of course, she is thrilled with her friend’s stunning success.
“She’s really strong, and she’s really humble,” Hester said. “That’s what stands out the most.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.