Casey Wood got what could be his big break when his mother picked him up from school earlier this week.
It was then that the Palatine teen found out his brother Rory's martial arts partner wouldn't be able to make it to the duo's audition for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent on Friday. Casey could step in, but the brothers had only a day to choreograph, learn and perfect a new routine. The pressure was on.
"It was pretty scary," Rory said. "For a while we were wondering if we should even do it, but when we decided (Casey) would fill in, we just got to work."
If there were nerves, they didn't show. Judges at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights were pleased Friday with the brothers' acrobatic display of punches and kicks, which ceased only after Casey, 15, took down his older sibling.
The brothers were just two of the more than 40 performers auditioning on the second of three days of auditions, the first round in the summerlong Suburban Chicago's Got Talent competition.
The winner, who will be announced Aug. 11, will get a paid trip to audition for NBC's "America's Got Talent." The contest is sponsored by Metropolis, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and the Daily Herald.
Musicians dominated the auditions Friday, but there was still a diverse collection of acts. Take, for example, Sophmore 64.
Jake Bosola, 16, and Calvin Hughes, 17, both of Lindenhurst, use electronic devices from before they were born to make music. By modifying a Commodore 64, a personal computer introduced in 1982, and a pair of original-model Game Boys, the duo made 8-byte sounds that combined to form a pulsing electronic song. The unorthodox composition -- called a "chiptune" -- was accompanied by an old 10-inch CRT television whose rapidly-changing scan lines provided a light show of sorts.
"We're both really big Nintendo fans, and we really love music," Bosola said, explaining how the group developed its sound. "We wanted to find a way to combine that."
Another act that stood out -- even before he showed up -- was wEs LeE "K." Also known as Wesley Kochan, the Bartlett man's performance proved to be as unique as his stage name might suggest. Taking a seat on his cajón, a wooden box that serves as a percussion instrument, Kochan took a bow to his acoustic guitar, playing it like a cello. That introduction gave way to a hard rock-and-flamenco infusion cover of The O'Jays' "For The Love of Money."
"It might not be for everybody, but there are a lot of people who really dig it," said Kochan, who works as a music, art and recreation therapist. He said he enjoyed the experience of auditioning, citing the eclectic nature of the competition. "Kind of like me," he said.
Charlie Beck, executive director of the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre and one of the judges, said he was pleased with the strength of the field and appreciated the variety of performers.
"It's going to make it challenging to pick a top 20," Beck said. "There's talent across a wide range of things, too, which is a nice surprise."
Auditions conclude today, and walk-ins are still welcome, time permitting. Officials said they anticipate the top 20 to be selected by early next week. The summerlong competition will culminate in a performance at the Taste of Arlington Heights.
Talent: You can still audition today