Two new judges for Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent emphatically stated their preference for new material at Sunday’s Top 20 show at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. But they were also quick with praise when vintage song standards were repackaged in unexpected ways for the eighth season of the summer talent competition.
Scott May, a keyboardist with The Ides of March, and Ronnie Pratt, the Lombard resident-turned-lead-singer of the band Kansas, are both new to the judging panel. They joined veteran competition judges Ron Onesti, CEO and President of Onesti Entertainment and the Arcada Theatre, and Barbara Vitello, a Daily Herald theater critic and legal affairs reporter, in giving feedback to each of the contestants.
“They will be judged on overall performance — audience response is a big part of that — stage appearance and personality,” said Onesti, serving as the show host onstage and then from the judging table in front of the audience.
The Recall, a teenage band featuring members from Wheaton and Glen Ellyn, opened the show with an original heavy rock song that had the judges name-dropping bands like Megadeth, Black Sabbath and Metallica in response.
McRae, a band from Sterling, also won lots of praise for their original song “Sway” — not the Dean Martin one.
“The tune was great. I loved your passion. Nothing about you guys is phony,” May said. “I hope to hear more.”
In giving technical advice to Chicago singer Miguel Rockstar Garza, Pratt gave the simple suggestion of standing closer to the microphone.
“My ears were begging to hear more of your voice,” Pratt said about Garza’s delivery of the Ed Sheeran song “Thinking Out Loud.”
Comedy was also a welcome addition of the show.
Bob Jay of Algonquin spun through celebrity and cartoon impressions ranging from Matthew McConaughey to the cast of “King of the Hill” in a bit where he recast the blockbuster “Jaws.” Downers Grove operatic singers Agne & Marty also injected some surprising drag humor and banter before harmonizing in soprano and countertenor ranges for the “Flower Duet” from Leo Delibes’ French opera “Lakmé.”
Heartfelt emotion also took the judges by surprise, particularly when Isabel Osorio of Naperville sang her original song “2002.” It was all about the sacrifices her mother made for her and her siblings.
“That was one of the most breathtakingly honest songs and lyrics that I have ever heard in all the years of doing this,” Vitello said following Osorio’s performance. “Through this song, I can see how she’s not only your inspiration for pursing the arts, but also your biggest fan.”
The grand prize for Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent has a few components. At its heart is a development package with website development, a custom video, mentor and photo sessions.
The winner also gets to headline a concert and wins an opening slot for a national act at the Arcada Theatre. And then there’s 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 with either trip).
There’s also a crucial online component to the competition called the “Fan Favorite.” Videos of each act following the Top 20 and Top 15 performances will be posted at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent starting Tuesday, July 2, at 4 p.m. and continuing through noon Saturday, July 6. The act with the most votes is guaranteed a spot in the next competition round. The act with the most cumulative online votes wins the to-be-determined Fan Favorite prize.
Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent for 2019 is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group and Salon Lorrene.
Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent Top 15 show
When: 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