The talent assembled at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre for Sunday night's Suburban Chicago's Got Talent competition covered a vast area of musical terrain.
Much of that terrain was familiar, such as the two Beatles cover bands and the Michael Jackson-influenced dance performers. But the performers also included a singer/songwriter construction worker duo and an 11-year-old opera singer.
Fifteen of the 30 finalists took the stage Sunday, in an event presented by the Daily Herald and sponsored by the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. The second 15 finalists will perform Sunday, July 7, at the Metropolis. The field will then be cut in half, with 15 acts moving on to the next round.
The ultimate winner and a Fan Favorite, determined by online voters, will be named at the Taste of Arlington Heights Aug. 10.
The top prize is an expenses-paid trip to audition for NBC's "America's Got Talent." The Fan Favorite wins a Funjet Vacation for two.
The opening band was a teenage Beatles tribute band, Merseyside, whose leader addressed the crowd in an English accent. Wearing black ties, black suits and white shirts, the band performed "Please, Please Me," replete with harmonica.
College student Kristin Brintnall, of Wheaton, sat at the piano to perform Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors."
Andre Bellos, of Chicago, along with backup dancers Alivia Tedeschi and Arielle Atar, showed the influence of Michael Jackson in their dance routine.
The singer/songwriter and construction worker duo King Whisky, wearing T-shirts, jeans and bright red shoelaces, trotted out their original song, "Cotton Candy," which included the refrain: "Put your hands on him, you'll die. Put your hands on her, she'll die. Tell me one more stupid lie."
Judge Barbara Vitello, the Daily Herald's theater critic, said she detected "a little heartland rock, maybe John Mellencamp."
Judge Micky York, the Metropolis music director, admitted early in the show that she didn't like The Beatles. But she was impressed by the version of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" by Dave Siemiaszko, of Wheeling, who played an instrument he dubbed "The Beast," a bass and guitar fused together. He managed to coax an intriguing fusion of blues licks and at times earsplitting reverb effects.
"That sounded like no Beatles song I know. Maybe more songs like that, and I might like the Beatles," York said.
One artist who won over the judges was 11-year-old opera singer Sheridan Archbold, of Yorkville, who said he is influenced by Andrea Bocelli and has only been singing opera for seven months.
Accompanied by his mother on piano, his soaring soprano clearly impressed.
"Talk about dramatic," Vitello said. "You have more poise than people two or three times your age."
A powerful impression was made by Kimberly Church, of Carpentersville. Clearly influenced by Aretha Franklin, Church, wearing a black hat matched by a glittering black outfit, strutted along the stage covering Franklin's "Think," creating an electricity within the crowd that was noted by the judges.
"When you take the stage, you light up. You can do that more. You can own that more, so we can see more of your personality," said judge Connie Canaday Howard, director of theater at the College of DuPage.
Judge and Metropolis Executive Director Charlie Beck was impressed, too.
"You can sing, girl. Don't ever stop doing this," he said. "The audience came along with you. That's what it's all about."
Another memorable act was singer/ukulele artist Mark Lyons, of Palatine, who offered the disclaimer, "Ukuleles do not play 'Tiptoe Through the Tulips' and 'Tiny Bubbles.' People do."
He played a song about "love and fungus" that included such lyrics as, "You're my portobello, but you treat me just like mold" and "I'm a real fungi."
Other acts included Sean and Karen, of Woodstock, who did Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues"; 19-year-old Divya Pillai, of Oak Brook, who sang a mashup of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and Rihanna's "We Found Love"; Solar Sound System, a guitar-drum brother combo from Winfield; 15-year-old Joey White, of Huntley, who played "Freebird" on the piano; musical theater performer Bret Patterson, of Barrington, who interpreted "Night and Day"; guitarist/vocalist Ryan Cooper of Schaumburg; and Tiffany Turner, of Chicago, performing "Lady Marmalade."
Talent: Winner to be revealed Aug. 10