America's Got Talent” served up a typically eclectic number of acts during Episode 5 of auditions, which aired on June 26. It served a supersized spoonful of the heebie-jeebies to judge, Howie Mandel. Nearly midway through the evening, the famous germaphobe comedian was called to the floor of the stage as a volunteer for daredevil French motorcyclist, Kenny Thomas. Mandel knew things were going to get serious when he was asked to put on a helmet and lay absolutely still. Simon Cowell had to pipe in and rhetorically ask, “Is this dangerous?” Thomas’ reply was yes, “very, very dangerous.”

Motorcycle stunt

As seen in the video below, Kenny Thomas took his motorcycle all around the stage, using Howie Madel as a prop in the act.

The heavy machine and its operator came within inches of the comedian’s body parts, including his “jewels,” as Heidi Klum remarked. The stunt provoked Mel B to scream like a banshee. To his credit, Howie stayed still in the face of the monstrous machinery. Everyone survived, and the whole panel raved about Kenny Thomas’ scary skill. He joined a group of great acts that have already performed this season. That list also includes 13-year-old Courtney Hadwin, who had an amazing performance.

Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks were also pressed into duty on stage. Illusionist, Rob Lake, requested that the lovely ladies stand atop a perfectly ordinary table, and he enlisted audience members to go on stage and verify everything below and around the table.

He then stepped outside of the room, verified by a video camera in real time, and then, magically made himself reappear to his disbelieving assistants and everyone watching. Simon Cowell said that Lake had “true magical powers,” and he will be one of the acts staying through the next round. As memorable as these unexpected encounters were, a few more performers also had truly transformational moments in the competition.

Her turn now

Glennis Grace has a melodic name and a beautiful voice. She described in her “America's Got Talent” profile how music was her “way of escape” through the many conflicts between her parents during a difficult childhood. She was poised to make singing her career when she became pregnant with her now 11-year-old son.

He became her sole focus, and she explained how he was her stalwart cheerleader now, supporting her in her chance at center stage.

She chose “Run to You” for this crucial audience, and she certainly displayed her vocal chops on the Whitney Houston classic, but she was trying too hard to be Houston, and not herself as an artist. She looked up throughout her performance as if seeking divine providence. It came when Simon Cowell said that he felt like he was “looking at a star.” Howie Mandel was exuberant that “we get to see you explode” as Glennis defines her own sound in the coming weeks of competition.

Fiddling through a fierce struggle

On “America's Got Talent,” the story and the struggle of the performer matters.

The moments of sharing and vulnerability forge the connection with the audience and the judges. Brian King Joseph has a story of immense talent and constant struggle through the pain. He has an immaculate talent on violin. A nerve disease will eventually take away the feeling in his extremities. In fact, it has already started to take its toll. He plays his instrument from “muscle memory” and the pure joy of his spirit. Time may be running out for this young musician, but while he can, he is seizing every moment.

The judges were spellbound with his performance. Heidi Klum rushed to the stage to embrace Brian at the close of his performance, and they shared tears of joy. Mel B gushed over how Joseph “lit up the stage.” The prodigy will have more weeks to pluck and glide on his strings and wow his audience from the stage after four yes votes.

Strength to stand in the light

Brody Ray grew up in Nebraska, seemingly having an idyllic childhood in the heart of America. Back then, though, Brody was Natalie, not himself. He was born a girl, who always knew he was a boy inside. He related his journey to becoming himself, including a painful harassment at a slumber party. Ray chose to perform Jordan Smith's “Stand In The Light." The power of personal truth and courage overtook the singer. Smith’s season of light came on “The Voice,” and this moment of time was for Brody Ray. The full panel and the audience rose to a standing ovation. Mel B, so clearly moved, remarked that Ray’s “soul comes out” when he sings. Heidi Klum deemed Brody incredible.

Simon Cowell advised that Ray sing his own material in his next performance because he can really become an artist of considerable weight.

Auditions continue next week on “America's Got Talent,” but soon the cuts will take the place of all the joyfulness, still leaving an experience never to be forgotten.