Now is the time for the top 10 finalists in Suburban Chicago's Got Talent to prove that they are more than one-trick ponies.
At 7 p.m. Sunday, finalists will vie for a spot in the top five before a live audience at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.
Suburban Chicago's Got TalentWhere: Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com
When: Top 10 finalists perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 22; final five perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5
Tickets: $15 for top 10; $20 for top five
The winner: The top five finalists will perform again, and the winner will be announced, at Taste of Arlington Heights on Saturday, Aug. 11.
Vote: Visit dailyherald.com/entlife/talent to see videos of the contestants. New videos and the chance to vote for your favorites will be available Tuesday.
The pressure is on.
In the previous round of competition, the top 20 finalists had to recreate the act they performed at the initial auditions in early June. But for Sunday, the singers, instrumentalists and bands need to offer up different music, while the competition's comedian and yo-yo artist must come up with new material and more nifty tricks.
"The next round is crucial," said Metropolis Performing Arts Centre executive director and competition judge Charlie Beck. "We're giving them the freedom to be more open and creative in selecting their pieces and also giving them more time to present themselves."
Once again, the contestants will need to impress the panel of judges, including Beck, Metropolis education director Michelle Shaver and Metropolis music director Micky York. Barbara Vitello, who reviews theater for the Daily Herald, will appear as a guest judge for this round of the competition, which is co-sponsored by the Metropolis, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, Schaumburg-based law firm Gardi & Haught LTD, Wintrust Community Banks, College Textbooks and the Daily Herald.
Those who make it into the top five perform again at the Metropolis on Sunday, Aug. 5, and at the Taste of Arlington Heights on Saturday, Aug. 11 -- when the winner will be announced. The ultimate prize is a chance to audition for the next season of NBC-TV's "America's Got Talent."
Meanwhile, fans can vote on the top 10 performances starting Tuesday at dailyherald.com/entlife/talent. The performer who gets the most number of votes in this and the previous round combined gets a Funjet vacation for two and is guaranteed a spot in the top five.
So how are the top 10 finalists going to increase their game and get the judges and audience on their side? And are they focusing only on the live audience, or are they concerned about how they'll play on camera for the online voting public?
Band Members: Bradley Bacci, 20, of Prairie View; Zak Sprenger, 20, of Buffalo Grove; Jon "Fluky" Nadel, 20, of Chicago; and Brett Schomen, 21, of Iowa City, Iowa
Occupations: Nadel and Bacci work at a day camp; Schomen and Sprenger work at Sam Ash
Plans for the next round: "A distinct advantage we have as a band is that everything we do and every note we play is of our own creation, and having four people orchestrate an act together takes lots of work and preparation that we've been treating like a full-time job for years. We have lots of other songs ready to go, so we're excited to showcase our diversity in genres!"
For the camera, or the crowd? "In preparing for the next round perhaps we'll take the video into account a bit more, but we try to keep our performances as intimate as possible so we won't stress it too much. The live crowd is far more important."
Faith and Whiskey
Band members: Singer Camille Eiseman, 41, and guitarist/singer Terry Tank, 50
Hometown: Both of Crystal Lake
Occupations: Stay-at-home mom and designer
Talents: Singing and guitar
Plans for the next round: "I think we're going to bring some music that showcases our voices and harmony a bit more," said Eiseman. "We'll focus on vocals and harmonies and create a fun experience for the audience," Tank said. "We are so excited for our next performance."
For the camera, or the crowd? "We love performing live, so having the audience was energizing for us," said Eiseman about the previous round.
"I tend to focus on the audience and just perform," Tank said. "I figure if I do that it will look good. too."
Agne G (Agne Giedraityte)
Hometown: Downers Grove
Plans for the next round: "I'll try to do my best to get into the top five. I will sing a new song and I will try hard to learn it in one week."
For the camera, or the crowd? "I was very nervous to be in front of a huge crowd of people. There was more stress performing for them instead of just the judges ... I performed for the people and just tried to entertain them."
Duo featuring: Shawn Kurian, 25, of Wheeling and Sanu John, 25, of Skokie
Occupations: John is a security supervisor and DJ; Kurian is an inside sales rep and event emcee
Plans for the next round: "We both wanted to enhance our show by adding qualities of the performance that the audience wouldn't expect," Kurian said. "We want to incorporate some of our other talents as well to show how versatile we really are. We are planning on changing the songs to make them more mainstream and enjoyable for the audience."
For the camera, or the crowd? "Having a crowd in front of you and seeing the excitement in their faces when you're performing is like the Nitrous Oxide to the fuel," Kurian said. "I always felt that viewing a recording of a performance never captures the same essence than in a live performance. I just hope that those who viewed our performance online felt just as excited as those that were in the crowd."
Woody James (James Lowell Woodraska)
Plans for the next round: "I am going to be myself like I have been so far and play my heart out like I always do. I will be performing my original song 'Leaving This Town.' It has a stomping train beat and the lonesome style of my heroes Hank Williams Sr. and Johnny Cash. I'm sure everyone will love it just as much as my previous performance."
For the camera, or the crowd? "I played for the judges, yes, but I focused everything on the audience. I wanted them to feel what I was singing and believe what I was saying. I did my absolute best to sell my performance and by the end of my performance, I knew they bought it all in full and right away."
Occupation: Student/part-time Berry Yo cashier
Plans for the next round: "Like I said at the Top 20 show, I will be telling the freshest jokes anyone's ever heard. These ones are going to be picked straight off the tree."
For the camera or the crowd? "I focused more on the crowd that was in front of me. The comedian's relationship with the audience makes his show better and that doesn't really translate over to video. But jokes are jokes and should be funny no matter where you hear them."
Occupation: Student/part-time Berry Yo cashier
Talent: Yo-yo artistry
Plans for the next round: "Different styles of yo-yoing and even better music."
For the camera, or crowd? "I try to focus more on the live crowd because they paid to see a good show. On computer screens, anybody can watch it for free. But I think yo-yoing looks cool whether it's a live performance or from a computer."
Hometown: Prospect Heights
Plans for the next round: "I need to make sure that I choose a song that is different enough to show the judges and audience what else I can bring to the table. On the other hand, it has to be similar enough to my first act so that everyone enjoys this next round as much as they did before! I will be meeting with my voice teachers this week and hopefully we will find the perfect song so I can begin practicing!"
For the camera, or the crowd? "Nothing excites me more than feeding off of the energy given by a large crowd and strangely enough, I get much less nervous when there are more people watching. I believe that the most important part of live performances is having a connection with your audience, so during the performance I did not focus on the camera but instead on trying to affect every person sitting in the house that night."
Hometown: Mount Prospect
Occupation: Engineering student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Plans for the next round: "I don't plan on drastically changing my approach to the instrument. I will play different repertoire in round two from round one though, as I relish any opportunity to perform different pieces and showcase my versatility."
For the camera, or the crowd? "I'm just focused on sounding my best. If I sound good and am satisfied with my performance, then I won't worry about any other noise which may surround a performance."
Band Members: Jake Basala and Calvin Hughes, both 17
Hometown: Both of Lindenhurst
Talent: Making electronic music with a Commodore 64 and Nintendo Game Boys
Plans for the next round: "We will be playing new music, adding a bigger screen so more of the audience can see what we are doing with the Gameboy and Commodore 64, and changing up our lights."
For the camera, or the crowd? "We love to play for crowds," Hughes said. "This is our first competition, so being in front of the judges only the first time we were pretty nervous."
"When we saw the online video, we noticed that you could not see us very well," Basala said. "Our goal is to add more lights above us so that all audiences can see us better. We want to focus on all audiences as they are equally important to us, as everyone is a potential fan."