Suburban Chicago's Got Talent finalists perform Sunday

  • Top 20 finalists of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent

    Top 20 finalists of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent Illustration by Tim Broderick

Updated 7/1/2015 3:21 PM

All 20 finalists for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent make music. So will this year's grand prize go to a rock band? A classical singer? A singer-songwriter?

The first public round of competition kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 5, at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg. Then it will be up to the judges to decide which contestants, chosen during closed auditions in June, move on in the summerlong competition.


Fifteen will advance before the field is pared down to a Top 10. The winners will be named at the Taste of Arlington Heights on Saturday, Aug. 8.

At stake is a "STARter Kit" grand prize promotional package to help further a budding artist's performing career, including a performance as an opening act at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.

There's also a Fan Favorite aspect to the competition that encourages the public to vote online at Voting in the Top 20 round will open next week, and the contestant with the most online votes is guaranteed a spot in the Top 15. The act with the most online votes throughout the competition wins a Funjet Vacation for two.

Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is in its fourth year and is sponsored by the Daily Herald, the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg, Onesti Entertainment, AMITA Health, Rohrman Auto Group, Salon Lorrene and the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce.

This Year's 20 Finalists in Alphabetical Order:

Amanya Amariel
Amanya Amariel -
Amanya Amariel

Hometown: Chicago

Talent: Singer

Favorite artists: Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Gloria Estefan

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Joe Christopoulos and Matt Buenger
Joe Christopoulos and Matt Buenger -
Aviation and the War

Hometowns: Matt Buenger of Addison and Joe Christopoulos of Wood Dale

Talent: Rock band

Favorite artist: Thrice

Jason Edel, Ryan Gore, Laura Burke, Alex Santilli and Mitch Klicki
Jason Edel, Ryan Gore, Laura Burke, Alex Santilli and Mitch Klicki -
Laura Burke

Hometowns: Laura Burke, Jason Edel, Ryan Gore, Alex Santilli and Mitch Klicki, all of Arlington Heights

Talent: Rock band

Favorite artist: Michael Jackson

Ryan Cooper
Ryan Cooper -
Ryan Cooper

Hometown: Schaumburg

Talents: Vocalist and guitarist

Favorite artist: Howard Shaw

Meghan Foley
Meghan Foley -
Meghan Foley

Hometown: Villa Park

Talent: Singer

Favorite artist: The Script

Rhea Garbis
Rhea Garbis -
Rhea Garbis

Hometown: Richmond

Talents: Singer and guitarist

Favorite artist: Silversun Pickups

Sheridan Hurtig
Sheridan Hurtig -
Sheridan Hurtig

Hometown: Mundelein

Talent: Singer

Favorite artist: Demi Lovato

Nathaniel Killian
Nathaniel Killian -
Nathaniel Killian

Hometown: Wauconda

Talent: Singer

Favorite artists: Michael Bublé, Ariana Grande, Nathan Sykes, Lecrae, Boyz II Men

Meera Khare
Meera Khare -
Meera Khare

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Talent: Pianist


Favorite artist: Frédéric Chopin

Laura Kuper
Laura Kuper -
Laura Kuper

Hometown: Wheeling

Talent: Pop/rock singer and pianist

Favorite artist: Kelly Clarkson

Jesse Leon
Jesse Leon -
Jesse Leon (Jesse Avila)

Hometown: Melrose Park

Talent: Singer

Favorite artists: The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Adele, Queen

Lucky -
Lucky (Michael Lueck)

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Talents: Multigenre singer and guitarist

Favorite artist: John Legend

Ken Markovic
Ken Markovic -
Ken Markovic

Hometown: Darien

Talent: Folk singer

Favorite artists: The Avett Brothers, Pigpen Theatre Co., Paul Simon

Bobby McNeily
Bobby McNeily -
Bobby McNeily

Hometown: Wheaton

Talent: Classical singer

Favorite artist: Josh Groban

Carly Meyer
Carly Meyer -
Carly Meyer

Hometown: Northbrook

Talent: Classical singer

Favorite artists: Diana Damrau and Renée Fleming

Osvaldo Paese
Osvaldo Paese -
Osvaldo Paese

Hometown: Mount Prospect

Talent: Singer

Favorite artist: Bob Dylan

San Star Sandberg
San Star Sandberg -
San Star Sandberg

Hometown: Geneva

Talent: Singer

Favorite artist: Billy Joel

Haley Blomquist, Josie Treffy, Lizzy Petitt, Daniella Ballarino and Anneliese Schulz
Haley Blomquist, Josie Treffy, Lizzy Petitt, Daniella Ballarino and Anneliese Schulz -

Hometowns: Daniella Ballarino of Mount Prospect, Haley Blomquist of Elk Grove Village, Lizzy Petitt of Arlington Heights, Anneliese Schulz of Elk Grove Village and Josie Treffy of South Elgin

Talent: Rock band

Favorite artists: Too many to list

JT Snyder
JT Snyder -
JT Snyder

Hometown: Barrington

Talent: Pop singer

Favorite artist: Bruno Mars

Mike, Marirose and Nick Rueth
Mike, Marirose and Nick Rueth -

Hometown: Mike, Marirose and Nick Rueth of Glen Ellyn

Talent: Sibling band

Favorite artists: Sam Smith for Mike, Carrie Underwood for Marirose and Red Hot Chili Peppers for Nick

Top 20 judges

Beth Waller: Cultural Arts Supervisor for the Schaumburg Park District

John Flamini: Chairman of the Cultural Commission, Village of Schaumburg

Barbara Vitello: A Lisagor Award-winning reporter, the Daily Herald's principal theater critic and legal affairs writer

Ron Onesti: President and CEO of Onesti Entertainment Corporation, which runs the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and outdoor concerts throughout the area


Rob Pileckis: The Chicago resident has hosted events like Screen Test Student Fest film festival, Summer Breeze concert series and the Schaumburg Youth Orchestra's "Presto!" holiday concerts. He's also conducted interviews onstage with celebrities like opera star Danielle de Niese and Robert Osborne from Turner Classic Movies. For his day job, Pileckis works as production supervisor at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts.

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