Auditions begin for eighth season of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent
Preliminary auditions for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent began Monday at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. More than 60 acts have signed up for the summerlong contest, which is now in its eighth season.
Rachel Tork, 19, of Geneva sang the Grace VanderWaal song "Stay" for her audition. After performing in lots of musical theater, Tork sought out the competition so she could try out being a soloist.
"This seemed like a really good opportunity," Tork said. "Making some connections was really exciting for me, and getting some more exposure."
Singer-guitarist Bradley McClendon and drummer Ben Vanderlaan make up the a duo called McCrae, and they drove up from Sterling, Illinois. Their audition was the 1980s song standard "Valerie."
"The benefit of doing anything like this is networking and meeting new people," Vanderlaan said. "Any chance that we can get to perform in the Chicago area, we'll take it."
Ron Onesti, CEO and president of Onesti Entertainment and the Arcada Theatre, also serves as a judge for the preliminary auditions. He said talent competitions have to be more than just looking for "the next best thing."
"I hope to be able to narrow it down to -- I hate to say it -- the 'top 20' because it's a very lateral situation as far as talent levels," Onesti said. "What I'm hoping to accomplish is to have something that's a little bit of variety and something that appeals to the masses."
The winner of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent receives a prize that includes a development package with a custom video, website development, mentor and photo sessions. There's also the choice of a trip for two to Nashville to meet with music agencies or a trip to Cleveland to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (includes admission). Airfare, hotel and $200 cash are included with either trip.
A headline concert at the Arcada Theatre and opening slot for a national act is also part of the top prize.
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent has an online component with the Fan Favorite prize. It's determined by online voters at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent after the top 20 and 15 rounds. The contestant with the most votes automatically advances to the next round. The act with the most cumulative votes wins the overall Fan Favorite title; the prize is still being finalized.
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group and Salon Lorrene.
Top 20 show: 6 p.m. Sunday, June 30
Top 15 show: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 14
Top 10 show and finale: 1 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Little Italy Fest-West at Centennial Park, Lake Street at Rohlwing Road, Addison