Auditions for the second Suburban Chicago's Got Talent start next week -- and the judges have some tips to help participants stand out from the pack.
"I would encourage anybody who has that closet dream or desire to be a star to take a shot," said Charlie Beck, a judge for the competition and executive director of the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.
Up to 300 general audition spots are available for solo and group performers for the summer-long talent contest presented by the Daily Herald, produced by the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre and sponsored by the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. There is still time to sign up, and all kinds of family-friendly acts are welcome.
General auditions are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, June 6 through 8, at the Metropolis, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. Participants are seen on a first-come, first-served basis and are encouraged to read the rules and register in advance by visiting metropolisarts.com/scgtauditions.
"Like last year, we're not going to accept people who have professional representation," Beck said.
Those who tried out last year can compete again -- except for the 2012 winners Sanu John and Shawn Kurian, who made up the beatboxing duo iLLest Vocals.
And while singers made up the bulk of last year's participants, the contest also drew dancers, bands, pianists, comedians and a yo-yo artist.
Along with Beck, Metropolis music director Micky York is returning to judge Suburban Chicago's Got Talent, and he had a few tips for contestants.
"Your audition and your performance starts the moment you walk onto the stage and lasts until you leave the stage," York said, encouraging contestants to be courteous and engaging throughout. "It's not just how well you sing, it's what you've chosen to wear, it's how you talk to the host and judges and all of those things."
If something goes wrong during the audition, York said it's often best to just keep going instead of drawing attention to the mistake.
"Don't have just one song," York added. "Be ready to perform from week to week because you may never know what we're going to ask of you."
That's important for those who progress in the competition. Thirty finalists will be chosen from the general auditions, but then the field will be pared down to a top 15 and, finally, a top 10. The acts will perform at live shows in each stage of the competition and videos of the top 15 and top 10 will be posted for online fan voting at dailyherald.com.
"For anybody who's contemplating coming into the contest, they should think about perhaps a progression over three shows," Beck said. "As we learned last year, each of the acts did a little different performance as they progressed through the competition and we got to see them grow."
The stakes are high, especially since the top prize of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is an expenses-paid trip to audition for a screening panel of the NBC show "America's Got Talent."
"We know they're definitely paying attention to us," said York about the producers of "America's Got Talent," who invited 20 finalists of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent to audition in Chicago earlier this year. "Because of the attention that the competition got, the producers reached out to us."
Metropolis staged a few reunion showcase shows based upon the 2012 finalists.
"We're looking from a show perspective as much as we are as a talent perspective," Beck said. "Discovering talent is what it's all about."