Meet the Top 10 for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent
The finish line is in view for the Top 10 finalists of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent.
After passing through the initial auditions and two performance rounds of the summerlong competition, the contestants have two last hurdles to face.
First up is the final indoor performance at Schaumburg's intimate Prairie Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 30. After that, there's the outdoor finale concert at the Taste of Arlington Heights at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5. That's when the winners will be announced.
Videos of Sunday's performances will be posted online next week at dailyherald.com. At that time, fans can cast votes for their favorites. The act with the most cumulative votes over all rounds of voting will be named the competition's Fan Favorite and receive an award package featuring gift cards from local restaurants, theaters and attractions valued at more than $500.
The grand prize is a STARter Kit valued at $5,000. It includes an opportunity to open for a national headlining act at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, career mentoring by Onesti Entertainment, and professional video and still photo shoots of a live performance.
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, the Prairie Center for the Arts, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, Salon Lorrene, Zeigler Automotive Group and Amita Health.
Meet the Top 10
Hometown: Lake in the Hills/Chicago
Challenges faced as a performer: Some of my bigger challenges are finding people who are committed and have my same vision. Also feeling like I don't have enough time. There's always something to do, whether it's writing, recording or performing, so I feel like my work is never done. I knew there would be a lot of pressure and sacrifice that came along with this career choice, but it's worth it for me.
Challenges faced as a performer: One of the toughest challenges that I had to overcome was teaching myself singing and adapting to my voice.
Talent: Hip-hop dance troupe
Challenges faced as performers: We started off dancing as a team on another company until September of 2016. Unfortunately the owner of that company changed directions quite suddenly and asked our main director/choreographer not to return. Several other employees didn't agree with this and decided to leave that company. We, as dancers, still wanted to learn and grow from our choreographer and director Matt Pilalis, so we made the choice to not return to our old company. With the demand from us kids as students, our teachers moved quickly and decided to give us a safe and healthy environment to dance in by opening up their own dance company. It was definitely a change none of us anticipated but as we come to the close of our first season and head off to Nationals soon, we feel more than prepared to take on any obstacle that comes our way and continue on performing with our Dynasty dance family!
Challenges faced as a performer: Being the fourth of five children meant that money was tight and we couldn't afford the luxury of music lessons or having cool, new instruments. So I'm a completely self-taught musician. I learned everything by ear on an old guitar that seldom had six strings. I would have these periods of time where I wouldn't practice. I just couldn't bring myself to sit down next to the stereo and repeat the same 10 seconds until I figured out where my fingers went. In 2010, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and it all made sense. To this day, I still struggle with picking up the guitar to practice, but it's made easier knowing how much my friends and family love me and support me.
Challenges faced as a performer: I've learned to practice more efficiently so my body doesn't hurt. I've also learned that I can't stop drumming. It keeps me grounded. I don't care if I ever become famous, I just need to keep playing.
Challenges faced as a performer: I think for me the most challenging part is calming my nerves before a performance and trusting that my voice will come through strong.
Challenges faced as a performer: Finding the time to market, practice, play, write and sing. It is a lot when you also have a full-time job that has nothing to do with what you love to do. I'm not giving either up for I really do enjoy my day job and being a troubadour. Getting out to the different gigs and open mic nights. I feel like I'm giving back to myself. I found by embracing the challenges -- my personal hair-shirt -- I have become better at the music I play and write. It has been a blast.
Hometown: West Dundee
Challenges faced as a performer: I don't really think I've had any major challenges. I'm just having fun doing what I love to do. Whether it's in front of no one or in front of a crowd, I'll always love to play music. And it's something I'll always have.
Hometown: Poplar Grove
Challenges faced as a performer: My shyness had been a hindering aspect of who I was for a long time as a young child. I would consider myself somewhat of an introvert -- always in my own head. A day dreamer of sorts. When I was younger, I would lock myself in my room making sure nobody could hear me singing or playing my guitar. I slowly started playing in front of my family, but always feeling terrified on the inside with little to no confidence in what I was doing. My parents knew I had a talent, but said I was getting in my own way. They would say, "We can't do it for you." You have to want it and do it for yourself. You may stumble and even fall. It is all part of the process. If you don't put yourself out there you will never know. I am a continuous work in progress.
Talent: Pianist and singer/guitarist
Challenges faced by Olivia as a performer: I have faced chronic health issues, just in the past few years, and it has changed my perspective as a performer drastically. I am very appreciative every time I get to go onstage and perform.
Top 10 Judges & Host
Paige Ehlman: An active member of the entertainment industry both onstage and behind the scenes for more than 30 years. Ehlman began her career as a child model, later training as an actor and singer. She earned a bachelor's degree in communications and theater from Loyola University of Chicago. Ehlman began her career in talent management in the mid-'90s and started her own agency, Paige Model & Talent Agency, in 2013. She represents talent for all types of media, including national commercials, film, voice-over, print work and more.
Joe Keefe: The artistic director of the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights since 2014. Between 1983 and 2001, Keefe was founder and executive producer of Second City Communications, the production arm of The Second City Theatricals. Keefe also has served as an adjunct professor at Columbia College and Northeastern Illinois University. He was a Glencoe village trustee between 2005 and 2010.
Ron Onesti: President and CEO of Onesti Entertainment Corporation, which runs the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and outdoor concerts throughout the area.
Barbara Vitello: A Lisagor Award-winning reporter, the Daily Herald's principal theater critic and legal affairs writer.
Rob Pileckis: The Chicago resident has hosted events such as 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.
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent Top 10Location: Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg, (847) 895-3600 or prairiecenter.org
Showtime: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 30
Free finale: 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Taste of Arlington Heights