It's now down to the final five for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent, and the competitors are all vying to win the top prize of a trip to audition for NBC's next season of "America's Got Talent."
Making the last cut are: country duo Faith and Whisky (Camille Eiseman and Terry Tank of Crystal Lake), beatboxing vocal duo iLLest Vocals (Sanu John of Skokie and Shawn Kurian of Wheeling), country singer/songwriter Woody James (James Lowell Woodraska of Millington), yo-yo artist Shane Lubecker of Algonquin and jazz pianist Robert Osiol of Mount Prospect.
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Where to see the Final FiveWhere: Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5. Performances will be repeated at the Taste of Arlington Heights in downtown Arlington Heights on Saturday, Aug. 11, when the winner and Fan Favorite will be announced.
Tickets:$20 for Aug. 5; free admission to Taste of Arlington Heights.
View: Visit dailyherald.com/entlife/talent to see videos of the contestants.
"I like the fact that there is variety among the top five," said Charlie Beck, one of the judges and executive director of Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.
These performers represent the cream of the crop of nearly 200 acts that initially auditioned for the summer talent competition co-sponsored by Metropolis, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, Wintrust Community Banks, Schaumburg-based law firm Gardi & Haught LTD, College Textbooks and the Daily Herald.
Yet before the ultimate winner can be chosen, the final five must all prove their mettle and talent at one more performance round of competition and a final exhibition show.
First up is a ticketed show at Metropolis at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, followed by a free performance at Taste of Arlington Heights on Saturday, Aug. 11. That's when the winner will be announced.
Also on Aug. 11, the contestants will learn who won the title of Fan Favorite and a Funjet vacation for two. This prize will be determined by the now-closed cumulative online voting from the top 20 and top 10 rounds of competition at dailyherald.com. A total of 187,708 votes were cast in the second round of voting alone.
As with the top 20 competition round, the top 10 Fan Favorite vote-getter already happened to be a part of the final five decided upon by the judges.
Beck was pleased that the fans and judges were in agreement.
"This bodes well for us," Beck said. "We hope to send our competition winner to strongly represent Chicago's suburbs on 'America's Got Talent.'"
The final five were elated to make it this far in the competition. Crystal Lake stay-at-home mom Camille Eiseman of Faith and Whisky was in the midst of making lasagna when she found out the good news.
"This competition has been a great journey for the two of us," said Eiseman, who has sung with her country duo partner Terry Tank for about eight years. "We did it with the hope that we might get some more local gigs if we progressed further."
Gaining more exposure was one key element for the beatboxing duo iLLest Vocals, but they've also enjoyed stepping up their performances in a competition setting.
"All the other top acts were also deserving to be in the top five," said Shawn Kurian of Wheeling. "Meeting and being onstage with all the other acts drove us to be better performers."
For Woody James, getting the most online votes in the first Fan Favorite round was a point of pride since he admits to making a big campaigning push via social media for not only his competition performance, but also to highlight the small town where he's from.
"I just told them, 'Let's put Millington on the map!'" James said. "Maybe this will help us finally get a gas station!"
Pianist Robert Osiol says it's nice to be recognized, though he tempers his pride by pointing out that "I'm still the same piano player that I was yesterday."
As for 16-year-old yo-yo artist Shane Lubecker of Algonquin, the news that he made it into the final five was also a bit of a downer since his brother and fellow top 10 finalist, comedian AJ Lubecker, didn't make the cut.
"My brother was pretty bummed out, but he's been supportive of me," Shane said. "Both of my parents are really happy for us, and they just like to see us perform. They've been really supportive, and without them we wouldn't be the performers that we are."