It was the "Sweet 16" round of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent on Sunday night.
The 16 finalists in this year's regional talent competition took the stage at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights, all trying to prove themselves worthy of the contest's top prize.
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Many tried to push themselves in new directions for the four judges -- Metropolis Executive Director Charlie Beck, Daily Herald theater reviewer Barbara Vitello, Metropolis Music Director Mickey York and College of DuPage Theatre Director Connie Canaday Howard. The judges must now narrow the field to a top 10.
Music was the talent most on display Sunday, but it took a variety of forms. Ryan Cooper, a singer and guitarist from Schaumburg, performed a medley of an original jazz-flavored pop song and Stevie Wonder's classic "Isn't She Lovely."
Vitello said she liked both halves of the medley but suggested he work out a smoother transition between the two. Beck praised the passion of his performance.
"We feel like you really feel this music, that it's from the heart," he said.
No Immunity, a group of four siblings from Arlington Heights, performed a reworked version of Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning" that included ukulele, a bit of beatboxing and the passing of instruments from one performer to another.
York praised their "cohesive" musical performance, but said they should try to make the setting down of instruments during it appear more natural.
Wheeling's Dave Siemiaszko looped sounds from his custom-built guitar-bass instrument and provided vocals and drums over them. His performance got a lift at the start when his young daughter shouted "Hi, Daddy!" as he took the stage.
Howard said she liked his vocals -- it was the first time Siemiaszko had sung for the judges -- and encouraged him to make better use of the microphone. She also praised his likability.
Gabriela Francesca of Palatine impressed the judges and the audience with a stirring rendition of "I (Who Have Nothing)," while husband-and-wife duo Sean and Karen of Woodstock turned "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" into a smoldering country-tinged ballad.
The rock trio Viper Fever, meanwhile, performed an original song called "Spell," which was built on a stripped-down garage-rock groove.
Videos of all 16 performances will be available at dailyherald.com beginning on Tuesday, July 23. Visitors will have a chance to vote for their favorites online; the highest vote-getter will be included in the upcoming round of 10 finalists as the "fan favorite." The top 10 will perform at Metropolis on Aug. 4.
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent, now in its second year, is presented by the Daily Herald, produced by Metropolis and sponsored by the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. The overall winner, which will be announced next month at the Taste of Arlington Heights, will receive a paid trip to audition for the NBC show "America's Got Talent."