Top 15 acts perform in Suburban Chicago's Got Talent contest
Five of the top 15 contestants for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent aren't going to make it to the next round -- the Top 10 finale set for 1 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Addison's Little Italy Fest-West.
So it was clear from the start of Sunday's top 15 show at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles that each act was pulling out all the stops.
"There's more of you! You've multiplied," joked judge Ron Onesti as he introduced the opening band McCrae.
The three-piece band from Sterling had added a string player and a backing vocalist to their lineup, while the bassist and drummer also switched instruments in the middle of their original song "Giants."
Onesti, the CEO and president of Onesti Entertainment and the Arcada Theatre, was joined on the judging panel by a new judge, the local entertainer and vocalist Nick Pontarelli. The panel also featured Scott May, the keyboardist for The Ides of March, and Barbara Vitello, a Daily Herald theater critic and legal affairs reporter.
Like so many reality TV competitions, the judges offered direct feedback to the performers. More often than not, the praise outweighed the tips for technical improvements.
Singer-songwriter Isabel Osario from Naperville once again impressed the panel with another original song. "Rearview Driving" was her way of looking back on a failed relationship.
"Where does this girl get this kind of pain?" asked judge May. "This was super-emotional."
While many singers performed original material, others opted to put their own stamp on established song standards.
For example, singer Brian Maras of Elburn sang Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come."
"I think you're reincarnated. I think you're from somewhere else," said judge Pontarelli when praising Maras' vocals that sounded like an old blues singer. Another vocalist choosing a standard was Columbus Montgomery of Bartlett. He chose to sing "Knock Me Off My Feet" by Stevie Wonder as a way to wish the legendary R&B singer-songwriter a speedy recovery from a forthcoming surgery.
"Your voice is just like polished glass," said Vitello in praising Montgomery's vocals and stage presence.
The 2019 grand prize for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent has many parts. At the heart is a development package with website development, a custom video, a mentor and photo sessions.
The winner also gets to headline an Arcada Theatre concert and perform as an opening act for a major artist. There's also the choice of a trip for two to either Nashville to meet with music agencies or Cleveland to see the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (airfare, hotel and $200 cash are included).
The online Fan Favorite voting for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is also crucial. Later this week, people can vote on and watch videos of each act from the Top 15 performance at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent. The act with the most votes is guaranteed a spot in the next competition round, potentially overruling the panel of judges. The act with the most cumulative online votes from the Top 20 and Top 15 rounds wins the Fan Favorite prize of $300 in gift cards and the chance to perform at Club Arcada, the third-floor cabaret of the Arcada Theatre.
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group and Salon Lorrene.