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updated: 8/5/2013 5:35 AM

Suburbia's top talent take risks in penultimate performance

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  • San Sanberg sings as the top 10 finalists of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent perform at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights Sunday.

      San Sanberg sings as the top 10 finalists of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent perform at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights Sunday.
    Gilbert Boucher | Staff Photographer

By Tara Garcia Mathewson

Most of the performers in the top ten Suburban Chicago's Got Talent acts brought something different to the stage Sunday night -- their second-to-last chance to wow the judges and become a fan favorite.

Sean and Karen Slavin of Woodstock added more depth to their sound with a drummer and a bassist to round out their guitar and vocals. The four siblings in Arlington Heights band No Immunity added choreography. Kimberly Church left R&B behind to cover Queen's "Somebody to Love" -- though her runs had plenty of soul.

Sometimes that worked for the judges and sometimes it didn't go over quite as well.

The judging panel brought last year's Suburban Chicago's Got Talent winners Sanu John and Shawn Kurian of iLLest Vocals to the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights as guest judges. The duo, along with Metropolis executive director Charlie Beck, Metropolis music director Micky York, College of DuPage director of theater Connie Canaday Howard and Daily Herald writer Barbara Vitello, who reviews theater, spent much of the evening couching minor critiques into solid praise.

San Sandberg of Geneva was a little pitchy on the high notes of Christina Aguilera's "Bound to You" and York would have preferred she make it her own with some extra country styling instead of distancing her self from the twang she brought to past performances. But the judges resoundingly approved of her vocals.

"You are a powerhouse," said guest judge Kurian to 16-year-old Sandberg. "I cannot wait to see where that voice develops."

All of the acts impressed the judges by incorporating some of their advice from previous performances, showing growth over the course of the competition.

Gabriela Francesca of Palatine showed more of her personal flair Sunday, closing the distance Canaday Howard felt between the performer and the audience as her impeccable vocals left her seeming a bit removed and more glamorous than relatable.

"I think this was absolutely the performance that you needed to give tonight," York said of her rendition of Bruno Mars' "Runaway Baby."

Now the judges must decide how to rank the acts, an admittedly tough job with the top 10 including plenty of singers and musicians along with comedian Tiffany Streng of Arlington Heights.

Beck said the judges would narrow the field to five Sunday night, reserving the right to change their top pick based on performances Aug. 10 at the Taste of Arlington Heights. The top ten acts will all take the stage, along with iLLest Vocals, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the downtown festival, after which the judges will announce the winner.

That act will get an expenses paid trip to audition for NBC's "America's Got Talent." The fan favorite -- chosen by live audiences and those who participate online -- will win a Funjet vacation for two. Voting will be open from Tuesday morning through Friday morning at

Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is presented by the Daily Herald, produced by Metropolis Performing Arts Centre and sponsored by the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce.

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