By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — BEVERLY — If the throngs of people who packed the Beverly High School auditorium to watch “American Idol” last night have anything to say about it — and they do — Angela Miller is sure to make the show’s top three tonight.
About 700 people of all ages gathered at the 19-year-old artist’s alma mater to wave signs, shout cheers and urge on their hometown favorite as she performed on the popular show, which relies on votes from the viewing public to determine which contestants advance.
“It’s amazing being a part of this. ... This whole event is incredible,” said Alex Distefano, a senior at the school who said he expects Miller to win the competition. “Long live Angie, long live the Beverly queen.”
It was the second “American Idol” rally held at the high school, and a sea of youths donning orange-on-black “Team Angie” T-shirts screamed with delight whenever Miller appeared on the large screen. They also danced spiritedly to songs that a Kiss 108 deejay broadcast during commercial breaks.
“It’s very alive; people are very excited,” said Susan Robinson, who came to the rally with her 12-year-old daughter, MaryElla. “There’s just a positive energy in the building.”
Seniors at the high school used the event to raise money for The One Fund Boston, which benefits victims of last week’s marathon bombing. A student said they had already raised about $1,000 by the time the show started.
On last night’s show, Miller looked strong and grabbed plenty of accolades from the judges for her performances.
“That’s how you win,” Randy Jackson said after Miller sang Jessie J’s “Who You Are” at the piano. “You made me believe that this was an Angie performance that was 10 out of 10 out of 10 for me.”
Mariah Carey called the performance “amazing,” and Keith Urban said Miller “got more carefree and just more cooler and looser” as the song progressed. Nicki Minaj also approved.
One of four contestants left on the show this season, Miller won’t know until tonight whether she’s gotten enough votes to stay on another week. If the show’s judges unanimously choose to, they can “save” a contestant from elimination — but only once during the rest of the season.
After Miller’s first performance, host Ryan Seacrest invited Miller’s visibly emotional grandmother up onstage, and Miller embraced her.
Later, Miller collaborated with Candice Glover on a much-lauded rendition of “Stay” by Rihanna.
“Unbelievable,” Jackson said. “That’s the way you do a duet.”
He added to Miller, “You’re on fire.”
Miller closed the show with “Cry Me a River,” a song written by Arthur Hamilton and popularized by Julie London that fit the theme of “one-hit wonders.” Afterward, she received another round of praise from all of the judges.
“You came out tonight to snatch some wigs off some heads,” Minaj said. “Tonight was your night.”
“Angie wins the night, hands down,” Jackson said.
Carey called the performance “elegant” and “beautiful,” while Urban said it was “mystical and celestially powerful.”
“A hot streak tonight for Angie, ladies and gentlemen,” Seacrest said.
Voting results will be announced when “American Idol” airs tonight on Fox at 8.