Nearly a third of the 300 competition spots for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent are already filled, and there's plenty of variety among the competitors signed up so far.
As expected, there are lots of singers, solo musicians and comedians participating in the first-come, first-served summer-long talent contest co-sponsored by the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and the Daily Herald. But also in the mix is a martial arts display, a hip hop dance solo and a band that plans on making music from Game Boy portable video game toys.
All sorts of acts are welcome. They must be safe and appropriate for general audiences, however.
Michelle Shaver, the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's education director, is one of the competition's three judges who will help decide on the winner -- who will receive airfare and accommodations to audition for a future season of the NBC series "America's Got Talent." (The other two judges from the Metropolis are executive director Charlie Beck and resident music director Micky York.)
Though Shaver has only held her current Metropolis position for nearly six months, she previously worked for six years at the arts center in various capacities ranging from education office manager to camp show director.
"We're looking to find the most talented person, and to me that means somebody that is honing their craft and can put on a great show," Shaver said about Suburban Chicago's Got Talent.
The first audition rounds are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, June 7 through 9, at the Metropolis in Arlington Heights.
To gear up for her judging duties, Shaver has studied up on network TV talent competitions ranging from "X Factor" to "America's Got Talent."
"I think I've watched at least one season of all of them," Shaver said with a laugh. "So I've got some great tips on how to judge and what I think is the best of all the worlds -- you don't want three Simon Cowells up there."
Currently there are no plans to open the preliminary auditions to the public, but audiences should be able to attend the later rounds at the Metropolis to see the top 20 on Sunday, July 8, the top 10 on Sunday, July 22, and the final five on Sunday, Aug. 5, and at the Taste of Arlington Heights on Saturday, Aug. 11, when the winner will be announced.
Children are encouraged to compete, but participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
For more information on Suburban Chicago's Got Talent and how to register, visit metropolisarts.com or call (847) 577-2121.