On the Tuesday following the three-day Labor Day Weekend, most folks are slumbering back to work, still savoring those last golden sunshine moments of summer vacation.
But Huntington native Mary Ellen Wolfe-Nielsen and her husband, Tyce Nielsen, are ready to get to work. Their hearts, minds and eyes focused squarely on the future — and on each other.
Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST on NBC, the couple known together as the headline-grabbing, jaw-dropping aerial trapeze act, Duo Transcend, will try to twist and tangle and swing their way into the finals of the world’s largest talent show, “America’s Got Talent.”
Voting will begin just after the episode airs Tuesday night and will be open until 7 a.m. Wednesday on the NBC website
or the “America’s Got Talent” app. The couple, who are based out of Utah, are stoked to continue their journey on this, the 13th season of “America’s Got Talent,” hosted by Tyra Banks and that features judges — creator and Judge Simon
Cowell returning alongside Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel.
The semi-finals are set for Tuesdays, Sept. 4 and 11 with the results shows airing the following day. The final, which will feature 10 acts, will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 18 with the winner of AGT’s main prize of $1 million announced the next day.
Editing the music for their program last Thursday, Mary Ellen said something she and Tyce really love to do is to sync up some incredible music to help them tell their story. During their semi-finals performance — a danger-filled blind-folded trick that they had tried and failed on during auditions, they utilized a remix of the Britney Spears’ hit “Toxic” to punctuate the performance.
“Something we’ve tried to do with our act is not just show people dangerous tricks, we want to tell a story and make people feel something special when they watch us,” Mary Ellen said. “Like with dancers, music can really set the tone of a routine, we wanted a song that showed suspense and a build up to catch the trick that we fell doing in judge cuts. We chose the remix of ‘Toxic’ because it tells a story of being addicted to someone who is dangerous for you. For us, that is what trapeze is all about, there’s a danger to it but also a love and an addiction to performing and pushing ourselves artistically.”
The couple is hoping their new performance gets the kind of rave reviews of their last which had judge Heidi Klum calling it “hands down, one of the best performances of the night.” These words were followed by glowing reviews including one in Forbes magazine that said, “Duo Transcend was leagues better than every other act in the live show, most of which fell flat with boring performances that failed to escalate what we had seen from them so far or compete with any of the acts from last week. Duo Transcend did not fall into that category and I am excited to see what they bring to the quarterfinals.”
Mary Ellen, the daughter of Huntington mayor and former Cabell County Sheriff Kim Wolfe and his wife, regional actress Debbie Wolfe, knows that perhaps the greatest review of their last performance came from her mom who didn’t pass out.
Debbie said when watching the last performance live, “I knew she had fallen a few times in rehearsal but I had never been there to see it live. Seeing it live is a whole other experience and it was terrifying, and so I was a bit of a basket case. The other contestants families and supporters were sitting around us and kept patting me on the shoulder and ladies were running for tissues so there is always that aspect of it. If it was anybody else but Tyce, they probably would have had to have committed, but this is what they do as a regular job when they are not doing AGT. This is what they’ve done for seven years.”
Debbie said she feels good about it knowing that Tyce is also the last person after the technicians set the rig, to go up and doublecheck everything to make sure it is safe before they perform.
Mary said it has been awesome that her parents could be at the last show, and that her mom has been able to be in California to help them with their 2-year-old son, Jaxx, while they rehearse the new show every day.
“Another huge help for us is our families, Tyce and I both come from big supportive families,” Mary said. “My parents both have been out to California to help us watch our son Jaxx while we are getting ready for semi finals and Tyce’s parents help watch Jaxx while we are home (in Utah) training. This next round of AGT will be even more intense for us, and it might not end up going perfect, but we want to show people that you have to take chances to achieve your dreams.”
Debbie said she is thankful she can be there to help support the her daughter and son-in-law, who have been married for seven years and performing that entire time. Their last show was this summer, when they were in the the European country of Andorra performing for the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.
“When they can come home during breaks and play with Jaxx and stay normal I think it helps keep them grounded and they know they have the important stuff in life,” Wolfe said. “It helps not to get too caught up in it. Some of the younger contestants will say things like I want this more than anything in the world and that this is the most important thing in the world. This is not the most important thing in the world and they have that figured out but they now we are getting into crunch. They know it is starting to get real.. Tuesday is a big hump. I think the goal for everyone now is making it to the finals.”
Whatever happens, Mary said it has already been an amazing journey with so many of their theater friends, and kids who grew up performing with her in First Stage Theater Company, touching base and supporting them. They have been hanging out with Whitney Jenkins, a First Stage alum that lives in L.A., and some other folks in their extended theater family are coming to the Tuesday show.
“Growing up in children’s theater in Huntington really helped me gain confidence in myself to be on stage,” Mary Ellen said. “I’m proud of being from the Tri-State area, the theatre community there is fantastic for kids to have someone to go to make friends and have an artistic outlet.”
Debbie said she hopes that folks back home watching the show can take pride in a West Virginia girl challenging herself to reach new heights.
“Mary is so proud of being from West Virginia — when they introduce them being from Utah, she always says but I am from West Virginia and she is really proud of that,” Debbie said. “We’re people who have overcome a lot of challenges and you can’t have the light without the contrast of the dark. Yes, we have had our share of problems as a state but that lends itself to a strength of character that I think is reflected in out artists of all genres that come out of West ViGo online at www.duotranscend.com and follow them on social media. Go online at https://www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent for more information on the show and download the app to make it easier to vote.