Suburban Chicago's Got Talent finalists perform in Schaumburg
The fourth annual Suburban Chicago's Got Talent continued Sunday with the first public performance of the summerlong competition at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg.
The Top 20 finalists were drawn from an initial pool of 70 from closed auditions, but it turned out that just 19 music acts made it to the stage. Host Rob Pileckis announced at the top the show that classical singer Bobby McNeily of Wheaton wasn't able to make it to the performance, so he was eliminated from the outset.
JT Snyder of Barrington kicked off the show by asking the audience to help by clapping out a beat before he launched into a cover of "Dirty Little Secret" by the band All-American Rejects.
Once Snyder finished, he got feedback from a panel of four judges: Daily Herald reporter Barbara Vitello, Schaumburg Park District Cultural Arts Supervisor Beth Waller, Schaumburg Cultural Commission Chairman John Flamini and guest judge Ron Onesti, the president and CEO of Onesti Entertainment.
Unlike on some reality TV talent competitions, the judges all offered encouragement rather than harsh takedowns of the performances. Yet they also included plenty of technical pointers on how each act could improve, ranging from breath control to stage showmanship.
While many contestants offered covers of pop and rock classics, others stood out by performing original material. Among those were Laura Burke and her newly named Arlington Heights band, Burke Valley, performing her post-breakup song "Sucks to be You" (notable for featuring the competition's first trombonist), while Joe Christopoulos of Wood Dale and Matt Buenger of Addison as the two-man band Aviation and the War performed the song "Child's Play."
Singer-songwriters Ken Markovic of Darien and Osvaldo Paese of Mount Prospect accompanied themselves on guitar for their own original songs: "A Captain's Love at the End of the World" and "Owl in the Snow," respectively.
The show was also notable because six previous contestants from 2014 returned to compete again, but with some differences. For instance, Michael Lueck of Arlington Heights is now performing under the stage name of "Lucky," while Marirose Rueth of Glen Ellyn came back this time with her fellow triplets Mike and Nick as Triptych. Ryan Cooper of Schaumburg, San Star Sandberg of Geneva, Sheridan Hurtig of Mundelein and Carly Meyer of Northbrook are also back.
The contestants are all vying for the grand prize known as a "STARter Kit." It's a promotional package to help further the career of a budding artist that includes publicity photographs, the chance to perform at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles as an opening act for a headliner and much more.
Also up for grabs is the Fan Favorite prize, with voting beginning online at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 7, and running until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 9. Voters will find videos of each contestant from Sunday's show at www.dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent.
The act with the most votes after the first round of Fan Favorite voting will be guaranteed a spot in the Top 15 round of competition, even if the judges had planned to cut that contestant.
The contestant with the most cumulative votes after three rounds of online voting following the Top 20, Top 15 and Top 10 rounds will win the Fan Favorite prize of a Funjet vacation for two. (On a side note, Meyer of Northbrook won the 2014 Fan Favorite prize.)
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is sponsored by the Daily Herald, the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg, Onesti Entertainment, AMITA Health, Rohrman Auto Group, Salon Lorrene in Palatine and the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. The winners will be announced on Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Taste of Arlington Heights.
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent Top 15 showLocation: Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg, (847) 895-3600, prairiecenter.org
Showtime: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 19
Upcoming show: Top 10 at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2
Winners announced: At the Taste of Arlington Heights on Saturday, Aug. 8; exact concert time to be determined
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent Top 20 Fan Favorite Voting
Online site: dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent
Times: 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 7, to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 9