Lodi resident Sandy Nuyts couldn't believe that producers from "The Singing Bee" were coming to her bar on a late night last fall. Now, she is getting ready to watch herself on national television.
The bartender at Rockin' Rodeo on Del Paso Road in Sacramento was working late the night of Oct. 24 as the crew from Country Music Television auditioned contestants.
Nuyts, 23, wanted to audition, but was too busy.
The crew waited until 3:30 a.m. while she cleaned and counted money, long after the line-dancing customers had left and a local band, Whiskey Dawn, had stopped playing. After the audition, they told Nuyts they would call her.
"You never know what to expect when people say that," she said.
Nuyts remembers answering the phone when she was shopping at Walmart. She was so excited by the news that she dropped her phone and broke it, she said.
But sure enough, CMT flew her to Los Angeles on Nov. 11 to tape an episode of the game show, where participants sing popular country music songs and win money if they remember the lyrics correctly.
Nuyts, an only child, grew up in Fremont and developed an affinity for country music from her parents, who are from Texas and Michigan.
She started singing in theater productions in high school, transferring from Fremont's American High School to Newark Memorial for its theater program. She sang in plays like "Guys and Dolls," "42nd Street," "Crazy for You," "Les Miserables" and "Chicago."
Nuyts moved to Lodi about a year-and-a-half ago to be with her fiancé, Mike Blehm, who grew up in Lodi and graduated from Tokay High School.
She has to work tonight, but plans on taping the show and watching it Sunday at home with family members. Nuyts works in the rear bar, which doesn't have any visible television screens.
She said that watching the show is sure to bring surprises.
"It went by so fast, it was like a dream," Nuyts said.
Contact reporter Sam Pearson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Singing Bee at a glanceWhat: Karaoke-style game show where participants sing popular songs and advance based on their knowledge of the lyrics, rather than their singing ability. Contestants can win up to $10,000 if they defeat the other contestants in a series of competitions and complete five of seven song lyrics in the Final Countdown segment while missing less than three songs.
When: Friday at 9 p.m.