Southern-flavored rock 'n' roll, jazz piano and beatboxing were among the talents on display Sunday night at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.
The acts represented half of the finalists in this year's Suburban Chicago's Got Talent competition, an event presented by the Daily Herald and co-sponsored by the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. Fifteen acts were slated to perform Sunday night; the other 15 performed on June 23.
The competition's panel of judges -- Metropolis Executive Director Charlie Beck, Daily Herald theater writer Barbara Vitello, Metropolis Music Director Mickey York and College of DuPage Theater Director Connie Canaday Howard -- now must narrow the field by half for the next round.
"My job won't be easy," Beck said during Sunday's performances.
The evening got started with MELZ Band, a group from the Northwest suburbs that performed a Southern-flavored original rock song with vocal parts from three members.
Vitello pointed out that the band, which has been together for years, displayed strong chemistry on stage.
"You have a great rapport," she said. "It's obvious you've played together for a while."
A number of vocalists performed solo Sunday night. Mary Hilbrink, a 10-year-old from Fox River Grove, belted out Natasha Bedingfield's "Pocketful of Sunshine" with poise that impressed the judges. Alex Guzman of West Chicago earned praise for her soulful rendition of "All I Could Do Was Cry" and for gracefully handling a slew of technical problems.
Andrew Johnston of Bourbonnais brought down the house with a rousing version of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." In an interview before his performance, he revealed that singing helped him deal with the bullying he experienced in high school.
"You've really set a new bar tonight," York told Johnston.
There were some inventive acts on Sunday as well. Riley Mangan, a pianist and singer from Arlington Heights, performed a jazz version of the 1990s rock anthem "Wonderwall" by Oasis. The band No Immunity, which consists of four Arlington Heights siblings ranging in age from 22 to 11, delivered a song that included drums, beatboxing, three-way vocal harmonies and violin that two of the members passed back and forth throughout the number.
"You show a camaraderie that some bands work years to accomplish," Howard told the band.
The 15 acts chosen to move forward in the competition will perform at Metropolis on July 21. The ultimate winner and a Fan Favorite will be named in August during the Taste of Arlington Heights. The top prize is a paid trip to audition for NBC's popular talent show "America's Got Talent."