'X Factor' pre-auditions start today

Queenstown visitors and residents who believe they have the ''X factor'' will have an opportunity to strut their stuff in the resort today, during the first New Zealand pre-auditions of the talent show.

Pre-auditions for X Factor NZ will be held in 27 centres across New Zealand, beginning in Queenstown today and heading to Dunedin on Monday, eventually finishing in Kaitaia on February 6.

X Factor NZ co-executive producer Andrew Szusterman said the show aimed to find New Zealand's ''next big recording star'' and described it as the ''opportunity of a lifetime''.

The global television format, first put on the map by music mogul Simon Cowell, has launched several successful music careers, including Leona Lewis, Reece Mastin and One Direction. X Factor NZ is open to solo performers or groups over the age of 14, with no upper age limit.

Contestants who make it through the audition process will be split into four categories - males under 25, females under 25, over 25s and groups.

Each category will be mentored by one of the show's judges. The two judges confirmed to date are 2009 Australian Idol winner Stan Walker and New Zealand-born Brit Award winner Daniel Bedingfield.

Walker said New Zealand was full of ''amazing people and singers'' who needed a chance to show their talent.

''I want to encourage anyone who thinks they have what it takes, but is too scared to give it a try, to get up and give it a go.

''You've got nothing to lose.''

Bedingfield, known for his hit song Gotta Get Thru This, recorded in his bedroom, said he had been voice-coaching around the world and found it exciting to help develop ''raw talent''.

''There's something particularly refreshing about engaging with wide-eyed innocence.''

The overall winner of X Factor NZ would receive a prize package including a contract with Sony Music Entertainment New Zealand.

Pre-auditions will be held at the Queenstown Performing Arts Centre rooms, on Ballarat St, from 9am until 5pm today, at Southland Girls' High School in Invercargill from 9am until 3pm tomorrow and in Dunedin at Logan Park High School from 10am until 5pm on Monday.

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