Be confident. Be courteous. And if you mess up, just keep on going.
Those are a few tips a music director and Vernon Hills' Jamie Lono have for those auditioning in the first round of the summer-long Suburban Chicago's Got Talent competition.
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It all begins at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre Thursday, the first of three days of auditions.
If you've already signed up, read on for tips on how to get the most out of your audition. And if you haven't, it's not too late. Just go to metropolisarts.com and add your name -- and talent -- to the audition roster.
All sorts of acts are welcome, as long as they are safe and family-friendly.
No doubt the 125 contestants who have already signed up are putting the final touches on their routines to impress the Metropolis judging panel of executive director Charlie Beck, education director Michelle Shaver and resident music director Micky York.
But York, who has plenty of experience performing as a pianist and sitting on both sides of the audition table, emphasizes that contestants should also keep in mind the audition process itself.
"What a lot of people don't know about auditions is that they start the minute you walk in the theater, and they don't end until you're in your car going home," said York, advising contestants to be confident and courteous throughout the whole process. "The people who are in the audition room will definitely talk to the people outside who are manning the signup desk."
Aside from basic auditioning tips like wearing flattering and eye-catching outfits, York also suggests contestants should try to enjoy their chance to shine onstage -- even if there's a flub or if other things don't go according to plan.
"I know that I never play a perfect show, but I've gotten really good at not letting 'freakouts' or fear show on my face so that you never know I've made a huge mistake," York said. "If you keep going, that's the best way out of trouble."
Jamie Lono competed on the second season of NBC's hit singing competition show "The Voice," and he received similar advice from one of that show's mentors, Cee Lo Green.
"Everybody hits a wrong note," Lono said. "Cee Lo even sat me down and went, 'So what, you hit a wrong note? I've hit a wrong note, you know, we're all human.'"
Lono and York both emphasized that most judges aren't out to cut down contestants, but want to see people's best performances.
"Although we're judging," York said, most people auditioning are "going to be their own worst critic."
Yet the stakes will be raised for subsequent elimination rounds of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent, since they will be open to the public. The top 20 contestants are set to perform 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 ultimate winner will be announced. For later elimination rounds, guest judges are set to join the Metropolis panel for the competition, which is sponsored by the Metropolis, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and the Daily Herald.
The winner will get a paid trip for an audition to NBC's "America's Got Talent."
"Just believe in yourself and be yourself," offered Lono in terms of advice when the pressure heats up. "People are looking for you to be honest and bear your heart."
For details or to register for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent, visit metropolisarts.com or call (847) 577-2121.