The top 10 finalists in the Suburban Chicago's Got Talent competition tried to kick their games up a notch on Sunday.
They came up with new material. They sang and played harder. All in an effort to move on to the next round, in which only five finalists will perform.
The performances took place at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights in front of a packed house and a panel of four judges -- Charlie Beck, executive director of Metropolis; Michelle Shaver, Metropolis' education director; Micky York, Metropolis' music director; and guest judge Barbara Vitello, theater critic for the Daily Herald.
Sophmore 64, a pair of 17-year-olds from Lindenhurst, started things off with a unique electronic music performance. All of the sounds came from a re-purposed Commodore 64 computer and old Nintendo Game Boys.
Beck praised their creativity and skill, then asked them to polish their presentation a bit.
"We need to see some showmanship," he said.
Agne G, a 10-year-old from Downers Grove who likes classical singing, stunned the judges with her vocal range and her confident stage presence.
York suggested that Agne, who has been backed so far by recorded music, consider working with a live accompanist, should she advance.
"You're better than the music on that recording," he said.
A pair of brothers from Algonquin had the audience laughing and cheering. Eighteen-year-old A.J. Lubecker displayed the timing of a seasoned professional when he delivered a short stand-up comedy act. His routine included an offbeat and intricate bit about the person who created soap.
Sixteen-year-old Shane Lubecker, meanwhile, thrilled the room with a series of spectacular yo-yo tricks performed to the theme songs from "Hawaii Five-0," "Rocky" and "Mission: Impossible."
"You're so exciting ... well beyond the novelty of a yo-yo act," Shaver said. "It was choreographed. It was interesting."
Other performances came from rock quartet AudioBakery, country duo Faith and Whiskey, beat-boxing duo iLLest Vocals, jazz-swing pianist Robert Osiol, vocalist Kelsey Martin, and country-rocker Woody James.
The judges will now decide who will advance to the Top 5 round. Starting Tuesday, readers can watch the performances at dailyherald.com and vote for their favorites. The top vote-getter will also earn a spot in the Top 5.
The Top 5 will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, at Metropolis. The winner will be decided at the Taste of Arlington Heights on Aug. 11. The winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to audition for NBC-TV's next season of "America's Got Talent."