Kaua‘i represented on popular talent show

Troy Lazaro returned to the set of “Hawaii Stars” bearing gifts for everyone. The former “Hawaii Stars” champion said he made so many friends the first time around that he wanted to spread the aloha to the new ones he would be making.

“People just think of us as the Garden Isle, but I wanted to show everyone that we were the Garden Isle and the Friendly Isle, all in one,” he said.

Lazaro packed the popular “Kauai loves you” pins, Kauai luggage bags and fans, anything he and his friends could think of that would be good to bring over.

“I gave them to the contestants, the producers, Carol Kai and Kimo Kahoano. I gave them to everybody,” Lazaro said. “They were stoked.”

Jack Viohl, who competed in the talent show in 1994, also returned to the show for another go round. He and Lazaro are the only contestants from Kaua‘i in this season’s competition.

But this time, the show’s format is completely different, for the both of them. With the popularity of the hit show “American Idol,” “Hawaii Stars” adopted the same voter call-in format.

Lazaro competed and relied on call-in votes to take him into the next rounds. When Viohl competed, contestants moved on based on their scores from the judges.

This is the final season for the show and the producers have made another switch. The judges for this season are the members of the popular local group the Society of Seven. Contestants will compete for a three-month performing contract with the Society of Seven, a trip for two to the neighbor island of choice, and a portfolio created by the Anthony John Photography studio.

Also, the stage has been moved from the Ala Moana Shopping Center to the Outrigger Hotel in Waikiki.

“It’s totally different,” Lazaro said. “It’s a much better venue. I’m excited to do it.”

Because the show has changed, Lazaro has changed his approach to the show.

“The costume choices and the song choices had to be important,” Lazaro said. “They have to be unique and very different.”

Lazaro said he has a stylist on Kaua‘i who comes up with great clothes for him to wear on the show.

The judges said they liked his clothes and even joked about borrowing his shirts, Lazaro said.

“They loved the bling-bling action,” he said.

Since his win in 2003, Lazaro has performed across the state at different outlets. Returning to “Hawaii Stars” gave him an opportunity to get back onto a stage. The changes in the show make it exciting, he said.

“It’s different, so why not?” he said. “This opportunity doesn’t come to everyone.”

Viohl said, in an interview with “Hawaii Stars,” that returning to the competition was an “opportunity to plug into the Hawaiian music scene and gain local exposure.”

Viohl also said, after this experience, he hopes to front a band again.

When not singing, the two hold down regular day jobs. Lazaro works at the Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club as a concierge. Viohl is a drug court probation officer.

The two will be on this Sunday’s broadcast of “Hawaii Stars” on KHON2 at 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com.

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