Alex Preston supporters fight nerves while watching ‘American Idol’

NASHUA – All eyes were on Mont Vernon native Alex Preston on Wednesday night as fans piled inside Chunky’s Cinema Pub to see their hometown favorite vie for another round of competition on the hit television show “American Idol.”

Preston, who’s real name is Alex Philbrick, first graced the big screen singing Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason” as a duet with fellow contestant Jena Irene, which drew cheers and applause from onlookers at Chunky’s.

Among those rooting Preston on Wednesday night was 10-year-old Jake Morrissette, a native of Mont Vernon and Preston’s next door neighbor.

Jake knows Preston as a “cool guy” and expects his neighbor will go all the way in the competition, but Jake said he can’t watch without getting really nervous.

“He’s awesome,” Jake said. “It feels like I’m up there with him because he’s my neighbor.”

Jake attended Wednesday’s “American Idol” showing with his three sisters, who all mirrored Preston’s style by wearing rolled up pants. The siblings also held a sign that said “Mont Vernon Loves You” during the show.

Samantha Philbrick, Preston’s sister, watched her brother perform from the movie theater and said she felt good about his chances this week.

“I feel good,” Philbrick said. “I thought I’d be more nervous but I’m getting more confident, like him.”

Philbrick said her brother’s confidence on national television has become contagious in her family.

“It rubs off on all of us and eases the anxiety so we can just enjoy everything,” Philbrick said.

Philbrick said she gets nervous in the lead up to the airing of “American Idol” and has a mix of emotions when watching her brother.

“I’m very, very excited until about five,” Philbrick. “Then I start getting nervous. Right now I’m like half and half.”

Lesli Rendall, Preston’s ninth-grade math teacher, said she can’t watch Preston perform without crying and tried to fight back tears as she sat in the movie theater.

“I cry every time; I don’t know why,” Rendall said.

Rendall said she feels a strong connection to Preston, as his former teacher, and said it isn’t just stardom that makes her care about what Preston is up to.

“Whether they’ve done good or bad, they’re our kids as teachers,” Rendall said.

Rendall said she believed Preston had the advantage going into Wednesday night’s two-hour episode because of the show’s format this week, which asked contestants to perform the song they first sang for the judges when trying out for the show.

When Preston tried out for “American Idol,” he performed a self-written song, “Fairytales.”

“I’m only worried because the judges want him to step up,” Rendall said. “That song doesn’t lend itself to that necessarily.”

The “American Idol” results show is Thursday at 9 p.m. on Fox.

Bradford Randall can be reached at 594-6557 or brandall@nashua Also, follow Randall on Twitter (@telegraph_bradr).