Adam Rose/Fox
Annie Barrett
June 27, 2012 AT 12:00 PM EDT

SPOILER ALERT: Finally! Twenty dazzling dancers have made it to “Los Ange-leese”! EW sat in the audience Monday night for the taping of the performance show. Your Top 20 are listed after the break — but first, some odds and ends from on the scene:

Executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe made a cute speech during the cake-cutting ceremony (pictured) before the taping — he made sure to thank producers, and choreographers, but “first and foremost all these kids, and America for blessing us with such wonderful talent. God bless America.” Okay settle down Nigel. You’re laying it on almost as thick as that frosting!

Alone onstage just before the lights came on for her first cold open of the season, Cat Deeley started wiggling her sparkle-clad butt for the crowd’s pleasure. She also kept demanding Red Vines from Cory the warmup comic and repeatedly begged audience members for candy. Someone please feed this starving kitten! Can’t they find a decent budget for Cat’s candy needs?

Nigel, apparently worried about how the overenthusiastic crowd’s noise level would play out on TV, asked everyone “only to applaud as much as you want to applaud” — but of course what he really meant was that they should applaud how much he wanted them to applaud. The viewers won’t be able to hear Cat speak, he protested. Seriously? That’s like rarely ever the case. I was surprised by all of this. It was for our own benefit, claimed the Nigemeister. “You’re gonna get exhausted.”

Nigel later demanded that the Top 20 perform their amazing Mia Michaels-choreographed “Look Into My Eyes” group dance a second time, which was fine with us! I’m pretty sure they used the second take. This routine ended way too soon, right?

A lot of Zooey Deschanel’s repetitive rambling was edited out for the telecast. She really took a while to warm up and it seemed like a lot of people in the crowd found her low energy confusing. “Why is this so hard for her?” a woman near me wondered. “I think that’s, like, her sense of humor?” offered her companion. But Zooey’s clueless-about-dance critiques did end up getting plenty of laughs throughout the night.

We watched the “green mile” footage on giant screens so it was interesting to see who got cheers, jeers, laughs, etc. Not surprisingly, no one really made much of a reaction when dancers we’d never even seen before in the auditions episodes were unceremoniously cut. Sorry, two tappers. See ya never.

Alexa Anderson, Amber Jackson, George Lawrence II, and Will Thomas: This Tyce Diorio routine definitely benefited from the close-ups a telecast can provide — there were so many subtleties, like the group’s final collective shrug and identical facial expressions, that I missed from my seat. Amber’s flying leap into Will and George’s arms got the biggest cheer, as did Mary when she noted that every girl in the audience would like to dance with the very tall and handsome Will.

NEXT PAGE: The rest of the best!

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