More than a dozen performers took the stage at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights on Thursday hoping to make a splash in this year's Suburban Chicago's Got Talent competition.
Thursday was the first day of auditions for the regional talent show. Auditions will continue Friday and Saturday, before a panel of three judges select 30 acts to move on to the competition proper.
Thursday's hopefuls, which included children and adults, told jokes, sang and played music. Each act received feedback from Charlie Beck, executive director of Metropolis; Micky York, Metropolis' music director; and Robin Hughes, Metropolis' casting director.
"I've been very pleased with the level of talent we've seen so far," Beck said during a break. "This is shaping up to be another strong competition."
Wheeling musician Dave Siemiaszko was a self-described "one-man band" on Thursday. Wielding a custom-made instrument made from an electric guitar and bass that had been fused together, Siemiaszko looped a series of guitar/bass sounds and then played over them on the piano.
He composed the piece, which got high marks from the judges, after learning that his wife, Roxie, had signed him up for the audition last week.
"I was like, uh oh, I better come up with something," the 34-year-old said with a smile. "I think it went pretty good."
Fox River Grove resident Mary Hilbrink, 10, sang the song "City on Our Knees" by artist TobyMac with no accompaniment. The judges praised her voice and her poise.
"I was scared to do this at first, but after I started I felt very confident," Hilbrink said.
The band Wireless Soul added a dose of hard rock to the auditions, playing AC/DC's "T.N.T." The band's principal members -- guitarist Spencer Soodek of Evanston, guitarist-vocalist Vince Minogue of Northbrook and drummer Joe Cangelosi of McHenry -- are all under the age of 12.
"I'm so proud of them, I thought they played great together," said Spencer Soodek's mother, Rika.
Claudine Minogue, Vince's mother, was a double-duty parent on Thursday, as her 7-year-old daughter, Catherine, also auditioned, singing "Castle on a Cloud" from "Les Miserables."
"She's wanted to join Wireless Soul, but they're like 'No girls allowed'! I loved seeing her up there on her own," Claudine Minogue said.
This is the second year for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent. The winner of the competition will receive an expenses-paid trip to the 2014 audition for the NBC show "America's Got Talent" at a time and place to be determined.
The SCGT auditions will continue at 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday at Metropolis, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. There is space for walk-ins on Friday, but Saturday is completely booked. For more on the contest, go to metropolisarts.com.