Canada's Got Talent: Semi-finalists bring melodious music, mystical magic, marvelous motion, and multiple Mandels

Bob Kapur     May 3, 2023 special guest columnist Bob Kapur recaps Canada's Got Talent airing Tuesdays on Citytv.

Welcome back to our weekly coverage of Canada’s Got Talent here on My name is Bob Kapur, your ever-faithful guide as we journey towards the finals where one of the acts will win $150,000, the chance to perform at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas as part of the America’s Got Talent Superstars Live show, and the recognition of being Canada’s next big star.

Tuesday night was the first of our semi-final rounds. Nine of the eighteen performers will be on the stage tonight. Collectively, the judges will get the chance to put two of them into the finals, and then the viewers will get to decide which other two should join them.

There’s a lot on the line, and a lot of show to get through. So let’s end this pre-amble here and head straight to the stage.

Alexandra Côte

In her video package, Alexandra said that it was her goal tonight to impress all four judges this time – because, if you’ll recall, Trish didn’t fully appreciate Alexandra’s talent, believing that any dog could be easily trained to perform similar stunts and skills and dancing like Alexandra’s dogs do (dog doo... heh heh)

This time, the act was a bit more impressive, with she and the dogs doing some lively dancing, bopping along to Katrina & the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” which can add a bounce into anyone’s step. As proof, one neat trick saw Alexandra lie down on her back and put her legs straight up, allowing one of the dogs to jump up on her feet and balance on the soles of Alexandra’s feet. There were some other cute tricks like some doggie somersaults and skipping rope. Then the second dog came out and joined them and they did some more fancy footwork, leaping over each other, doing simultaneous jumps and pirouettes, and ending with all three doing a victory pose as the song came to an end.

While it was a given that Kardinal, Howie, and Lilly would love the act, the big question was whether or not Trish would be converted. And she totally was, fully appreciating the trust, teamwork, and training that Alexandra and her dogs need to put in to perform the way they do.

My hot take: I’m never going to agree that an animal act should win this kind of competition. That said, the performance was certainly a step up from the audition, with some nifty moves and stunts. I can’t see the viewers voting them into the finals, so the only way they’ll get there is if the judges throw them a bone.

Maya Gamzu

Maya is the 14-year old singer who earned Kardinal’s Golden Buzzer. He and the other judges thought that Maya had the vocal chops to advance in the competition, but they weren’t thrilled about her song choice, telling her that she needs to pick one that can really showcase her skills this time.

This time, she went with Jessie J’s “Domino” a catchy pop number that allowed Maya to show off her powerful voice, which was controlled throughout, even when she was moving with a quartet of backup dancers. There were a couple of pitchy and shouty spots, and there was a definite Mini Pops Kids vibe to the performance. But all of that was largely forgiven when Maya perfectly nailed a climactic high note, hitting them like she was Mariah Carey in her prime.

Kardinal was blown away and predicted that Maya would be in the finals. Trish didn’t think the performance was a 10 out of 10 – rather, she felt it was a 20. Howie and Lilly were a bit more clinical in their critiques, saying that Maya started off fine, but showed why she is truly a star when she hit the big notes.

Cool Giraffes

During their audition, this dance troupe actually got a standing ovation from Howie, who isn’t normally a fan of those types of acts. They were happy about that, naturally, but they were also thrilled to represent their home city of Edmonton, Alberta, which isn’t typically known as a city of arts and culture.

Their routine had perfectly in-sync movements, and some interesting choreography. But overall, the routine – and the slow-beat, dub-step music that accompanied it, gave it an overall slow, and sometimes sluggish pace. In some cases, you could see them moving quickly, but perhaps juxtaposed with the slower music, it gave the illusion like they were all moving under water.

Howie didn’t think the routine was as good as the audition or as good as it should have been at this point in the competition. Lilly and Trish agreed, saying that the routine lacked energy. Kardinal made it unanimous, saying that he was hoping for an explosion of energy that never came.

With that, the giraffes look to be headed back to the jungle, and the semi-finals is safaris they’re going to go.

The Turnbull Brothers

The surprise twist that saw one of these twin brothers join the other on stage mid-song during the audition helped get them to the semi-finals. But with that card played already, for them to get any further in the competition, it will have to be because of the quality of their singing. That’s their dream, they said in their video package: to make it on their singing merits, and hopefully move away from their blue-collar “everyday Joe” jobs in exchange for stardom.

Their version of “Heaven” by Los Lonely Boys started off with a promising country rock guitar riff and some good harmonies. But the rest of the song came across as a bit bland and vanilla. The vocals were clean, crisp, and tuneful, but it just came off as kind of karaoke. The crowd seemed mildly entertained by the act, but that’s about it – even Lindsay’s call for a big round of applause at the end of the act seemed to elicit only a lukewarm reaction.

And that continued with the judges. Kardinal liked the brothers’ personalities, but he didn’t feel they did anything special on the stage tonight. Trish and Lilly agreed, saying that she didn’t feel the Turnbulls did enough, with Lilly humorously suggesting they might have need to add a triplet on the stage to deliver a surprising twist to spark the crowd. Howie, on the other hand, disagreed with the rest of the judges. He said that he enjoyed the performance all the way through, and felt that the audience at home will find the brothers likeable enough to give them another shot.

Atsushi Ono

During his audition, Atsushi didn’t let his nerves get to him, and he amazed the judges with his flawless close-up magic. In his video package, he seemed to have found his confidence, saying that he knows the stakes are higher, and he has what it takes to live up to the expectations that come with being a semi-finalist.

He also presented it on-stage, adding a higher level of showmanship and professionalism to his act. For his trick, he asked Howie to name any card. He then made the card appear from underneath the empty card box that he’d placed on the judges’ table before he’d even asked Howie for the name of the card. That was amazing, and if even if he’d have stopped there, that would have been enough.

Instead, he followed that up with another trick. He asked Trish to draw an image on Howie’s selected card, then put the card back into the centre of the deck. He then took the top card off the deck, and laid it face-down on the judges’ table. He flipped it over, and it was Trish’s marked card. He then did several more variations of the trick with Trish’s card appearing and re-appearing in various different places each time. For his finale, he made the card disappear and then did a call-back to the beginning of his act with the card ending up folded up between his watch and his wrist.

And how confident was Atushi? During his final reveal, he ended with a flourish, proclaiming that he had earned his way into the finals with that act.

The judges all agreed, and they praised his trick, his presentation, and his showmanship. And the audience did as well, giving Atushi a well-deserved standing ovation.

My take: He’s not wrong. Atushi’s sleight of hand is simply tremendous. His trick moves a mile a minute mentally, and by the time you think you’ve got the answer, he changes the question. His tricks are brilliant and his delivery is just perfect. That naïve nervous performer schtick might have got him to the semi-finals, but this guy is pure 100% showman. And right now is the front-runner to win the whole thing.

Beatrice Love

In her video package, Beatrice said that it was her mission is to give joy to the audience through her singing. She also wants to do that by inspiring people through her story: growing up in a difficult Indigenous childhood that led to her becoming an addict, but pulling herself up through rehab, and returning to her family, and once again finding her voice.

For her semi-final performance, she performed an original song that talked about her life story. The song, which based on the background singers’ call-and-response, is titled “Warrior” was a gospelly number that she belted out with a husky voice reminiscent of a young Mavis Staples. The song was emotional and personal and sung just beautifully.

Howie and Kardinal both appreciated Beatrice’s bravery for not only the lyrics of the song, but also for choosing to perform an original. Lilly really felt the emotion and said that she would be crying in the shower to the song later on.

Paola Troilo

Paola’s son is the one who applied to CGT on her behalf, as he was a big fan of her opera stylings – and her voice quickly made fans of the judges and audience fans as well. Based on the reactions from her auditions, she now realizes that she has star potential, and she is going to pursue her dreams.

For her performance, Paola stood on a small raised platform on the stage, which had been converted into an ice rink so two figure skaters could gracefully ice-dance while Paola sang a beautiful soprano solo. I don’t understand a word of what she sang, nor can I tell you the name of the song. But it was simply sensational. Like, remember that scene in The Shawshank Redemption, when Andy played that opera over the loudspeaker and all the prisoners in the yard simply couldn’t help but appreciate the voice? This was like that moment.

Trish said she loved every second of the performance, and said that Paola – in addition to being a mother and a wife – is, in every way, an opera singer. Kardinal and Lilly said that Paola is a bona-fide star. Howie said that, even though he isn’t an opera fan, he can’t deny Paola’s talent, though based on the way he wished her luck, it doesn’t seem that he thinks she has a shot of getting to the finals – not because she isn’t good enough, but more, I think, because he doesn’t think an opera singer is going to necessarily strike a chord with the viewers. We’ll know soon.

Mr. Cuddles the Evil Octopus

Mr. Cuddles, if you don’t remember the audition, is a bizarre comedy ventriloquism act featuring an octopus puppet that wants to take over the world, but his plans keep getting inadvertently thwarted by his nameless lobotomized assistant (the puppeteer).

The introduction video showed some backstory of the duo, and in it, the judges played along with the gimmick, throwing their support for Mr. Cuddles’ evil global takeover schemes.

Once again, his scheme involved clones, and this time, the clones were in the form of several people wearing pretty realistic Howie Mandel masks. Mr. Cuddles said that he would need many more clones to take over the world, so was going to time-travel into the future when all of them were completed and then come back with that clone army. Unfortunately, one of the clones sent him back into the past instead, and when he returned, he was just a little kid with a baby octopus puppet. He went back into the machine and came back into the present, his plans foiled due to his clones’ incompetence.

Howie loved the act, though that’s probably because he was the central figure in the story. He loved the originality of the act and the story. Lilly and Trish liked the fun and weirdness of the act, and Kardinal said it was unique and hilarious.

My hot take: God, I hate this act. The design of the octopus puppet is neat. But everything else about it just makes me want to change the channel. Technically, it’s bad. The puppeteer looks like he’s wearing a prosthetic tongue that permanently sticks out, which makes me thing it’s there simply to cover up his mouth moving. So strike one on the ventriloquism skills. The premise of an animal trying to take over the world and having those plans blow up by his sidekick’s stupidity was done so much better on “Pinky and the Brain”. So strike two for originality. And the execution – the lame effects, the bad non-puppet/mask props, and the lack of funniness – those are strikes three through infinity. There were so many better acts that should have gone through, this one is just embarrassing. If Canada votes this act through to the next round, I may just leave the country out of shame and disappointment for what we’ve become as a nation.


This dance troupe was Trish’s Golden Buzzer pick, after they performed their emotional routine about their coach and his wife’s struggles to have a baby. After putting them through, Trish advised the team to keep telling unique stories through their dance and keep raising the bar to make Canada feel their passion and emotion.

For their semi-final performance, the troupe chose to tell their own story of being located between Montreal and Quebec City, where they can draw from the energy and spirit of both cities, while creating something unique in every routine.

In this performance, they wore striking red robes, which were used to great effect, including an opening move where one of the dancers did a full 360-degree turn inside it, but the robe camouflaged their body so it looked like her head was twisting around in a circle. Later, they did a sequence that saw some of them replace their necks and heads with arms, so it looked like they were giant-sized people. Maybe you had to see it to understand, but it was really visually cool. As was the rest of the choreography, which was perfectly synchronized. Then, as the haunting version of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” kicked into the chorus, the robes were dropped and the did the rest of the act in bright white costumes, kicking up the dynamic visuals along with the motions. They did moves that looked like they were trying to re-enact a romance and a gang-fight simultaneously. It was physical and sexy and cool and hot at the same time.

Trish felt that the performance confirmed that her Golden Buzzer pick was truly justified, and said that Conversion sent out the message that they want to win. Kardinal said that every movement, every element of the act was an elevation. Howie said that everything about the act was perfection and said that they were the best dance troupe of the season. Lilly said that the act might have been the most difficult performance ever seen on the stage, and said that could be finale-worthy.

Judges’ Finalists Selections:

The judges announced the two acts that they were going to put through to the finale. They are:

Two other finalists will be determined by a vote from the public ( and the results will be announced on City-TV on Thursday morning. Of course, I’ll also keep you in the loop – just check me on the Twitter at @ReadBobsTweets. Also, chime in with your comments below, or hit me on the ‘gram as the kids say (@BobKapur). Let me know if you agree with the judges’ picks and/or who else you will be voting for.

UPDATE: Canada has voted in...

See you all next week for Semi-Final night two!

Oher thoughts:
  • In her introduction for Alexandra, host Lindsay Ell teased that “this act has ten legs", and for a second I thought she was going to introduce Mr. Cuddles, the Evil Octopus and his handler. #FunWithMath

  • For you non-Canadian readers, the Mini Pops Kids that I referred to was a music group created by the Canadian record company K-Tel. The group consisted of a bunch of kids aged 10-14 – who would be replaced as they aged out – and they would do cheesy versions of popular songs of the day. They released a series of albums – the last one, apparently, in 2020.

  • During the episode, they aired a compilation titled “Trish is Tough” that featured the various times Trish reacted negatively to an audition – including, in one case, intimidating Howie into giving an X to an act that Trish clearly despised. If you looked closely during the Trish is Tough video, you’ll see she was wearing her WWE Hall of Fame ring. If that isn’t enough to prove her toughness, just ask Becky Lynch, who hasn’t been seen on WWE TV since Trish laid her out a few weeks ago.

  • For you non-Canadian readers, while Edmonton may not be known for its artistic culture, it does have the West Edmonton Mall, which is one of the biggest indoor shopping centres in the world. You should definitely book a trip to the city and check it out. If you’re looking for more pop culture than artistic culture, there’s a pop culture store in Edmonton called Rolling Tales which is owned by one of Canada’s most award-winningest comics/pop culture retailers. And, of course, no trip to the city would be complete without posing for a pic with the Bob and Doug McKenzie statue, eh?

  • In addition to the Trish is Tough video, each other judge got their own spotlight package as well from the auditions. Kardi’s focused largely on his big, spirited laughter. Lilly’s was all about the love she has for her fellow judges, the contestants, and life in general. Howie’s was basically all about Howie being the veteran judge on the panel, and his connection with the audience and home viewers.

Stills from show »

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