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CityWalk – Rising Star

What: Karaoke club
Where: On the Promenade
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.; Friday and Saturday 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Located in an octagonal building almost at the geographical center of CityWalk, Rising Star is your neighborhood karaoke bar given an extreme makeover. The canned “tiny orchestra” on a portable CD player is gone, replaced by a live backing band with concert-quality lighting and sound systems. The only thing they can’t upgrade are the vocal talents of the eager volunteers who line up for their shot at small-scale stardom.

The club’s two-story design combines the intimate ambiance of a jazz club (its former incarnation) with the great sightlines of a conventional theater. A scattering of memorabilia from Downbeat magazine’s Jazz Hall of Fame remains on the walls, with the rest covered by velvet curtains. The color scheme of soothing browns and rich reds, along with the plush banquettes, creates an aura of ultra-cool sophistication. The overall effect is at once festive and laid-back.

The format should be familiar: chose a song from their slender list of about 100 selections (classic rock standards and a smattering of Top 40), write it on a slip of paper, and wait your turn. You (and one friend) can join the band on stage, belting away with teleprompter lyrical assistance, while overhead video screens broadcast your performance to the back row. The musicians do a professional job of staying in time no matter how inebriated the intonations, though it’s a wonder they don’t go mad repeatedly recycling their short set list.

The food and beverage service is also fairly standard. You can have the bartender pour the usual well drinks for about $5, but there are also martinis ($8.50), wines by the glass ($4 to $8) and a variety of specialty drinks ($7 to $10). Food ($5 to $12) is something of an afterthought and includes potato skins, buffalo wings, and chicken fingers.

Rising Star opens at 8:00 p.m., and the band begins performing at 9:00. If you want to sing, get your request in early, as the club can fill up quickly, especially on weekends. On Sundays and Mondays the live band takes a break, so you and your and backup choir will be singing to prerecorded instruments.

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Universal Orlando 2011


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