Peachock, 35, performed live Tuesday night before a studio audience in Los Angeles and an NBC television-viewing audience of millions in his bid for a $1 million prize and a headlining show on the Las Vegas strip. His segment was the fourth to be shown on the two-hour broadcast and lasted about seven minutes.
Before the actual live act occurred, a taped portion showed snippets of Peachock’s previous appearances on the show, clips of him practicing and short interviews with the award-winning juggler.
“People always ask me, ‘Why did you choose juggling?’ And I tell them, ‘Juggling chose me,’” Peachock said. “Everything takes a back seat to my juggling. The last girlfriend I had was in 2004. I haven't had time for relationships. I've been married to juggling.”
Howie Mandel, who serves as an AGT judge alongside Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne, said, “A lot of the acts come to the quarter-finals and they're not topping what they've done. Charles set himself on fire. How's he going to top that? He was on fire!"
Peachock got the last pre-taped word in before his live act.
“The judges might be expecting to see more fire or more danger, but tonight is a completely different direction. I need to show them that juggling can be a 50-minute show in Vegas. I've been developing (the piano act) for over eight years. This is the one I wanted everybody to see,” he said.
Host Nick Cannon then announced, "From Kent, Ohio, give it up for Charles Peachock."
The camera panned to Peachcock onstage wearing a black tuxedo, seated at a grand piano atop a platform. He slowly hit a few notes with some juggling balls, then ran one ball across several octaves' worth of keys before stepping up onto the piano bench to play from that vantage point.
By then, Osbourne had already buzzed Peachock, prompting a large red "X" to light up above the stage.
As the tune sped up and became recognizable as Jacques Offenbach's Can-Can, two costumed women appeared on stage and began performing the song's associated dance. Audience members clapped in rhythm as Peachock played the high-energy piece with four juggling balls while standing above the keyboard.
The piece finished, Peachock jumped off the platform and, while taking a bow, the dancers tore away his jacket and shirt to reveal "AGTB3486" stenciled onto his bare chest. Mandel buzzed him.
Peachock headed back onto the platform, this time climbing on top of the closed piano itself, kneeling facing the keyboard. Juggling downward with five balls, he gave a spirited performance of Jailhouse Rock -- thus the "jailbird" numbers on his chest.
Also onstage were Peachock's Kent/Akron musician friends Jamie Stillman and Stephen Clements, who backed the piano-playing juggler on guitar and drums.
After the act, Morgan said in reference to the X's Osbourne and Mandel gave Peachock, "I just don't know what they were watching because we've had lots of jugglers over the years, but I've never seen anyone do anything like that.”
"Honestly, as you started doing that I thought, 'This is all going to go wrong.' I thought you were bound to drop them. To be able to keep that control and that speed and play music? That's one of the most talented juggling acts I've seen on the show," Morgan added, eliciting resounding applause from the studio audience.
Osbourne joked about Peachock taking his shirt off, saying that's what won Morgan's vote. "I felt that it was very slow. When you started off I thought you were wasting time ... and then when you turned yourself into a Chippendale, it was like, what is going on," she said.
Mandel said there have been similar acts on AGT, referring to one contestant who laid on the floor spitting balls upward at a xylophone held above his face.
"Here's the biggest problem I have, and I said it in the package before. The first time you did glow-in-the-dark juggling. We loved it. Next time, you lit yourself on fire. Now, you raised it to the level where you take your shirt off and dropped your balls on a piano. To me, the direction you went is down," Mandel said.
Peachock responded, "Anybody can play with their fingers, you know. I think you have to show a large range ... I have to show versatility."
This set off bickering amongst the judges that ended with Mandel blasting an air horn just as Morgan was saying, "I'm getting a feeling the entire audience agrees with me."
While the judges may have been able to voice their opinions, the only votes that count come from viewers. Voting via computer, phone calls and text messages took place for two hours after the show ended. Results will be revealed tonight on AGT, which airs at 9 p.m.
Tom Simpson hosted a watch party for the show Tuesday night at The Kent Stage. His opinion on the judges? “Too bad Howie and Sharon did not get it. I think it was because (Charlie) was juggling down rather than up. Different perspective and not what people are used to,” he said.
“I think he did take it to the next level,” Mark said. “He took the classical image of a pianist and blended it with juggling, turning it into something completely different.”
Marlo added, “I think he did wonderful. He was spot-on with all the notes.”