Private auditions are now underway for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent at the Arcada Theatre. Upward of 95 acts registered for the summer talent competition, which has shifted to the historic 92-year-old St. Charles venue for its seventh season.
Rock bands, singers and even a comedian tried their luck on the first of three days of auditions on Monday.
Suburban Chicago's Got TalentMain location: Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 962-7000 or arcadalive.com or events.dailyherald.com
Top 20 show: 6 p.m. Sunday, July 8
Top 15 show: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 29
Top 10 show and finale: 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at Little Italy Fest-West at Centennial Park, Lake Street at Rohlwing Road, Addison
One performer was Adam Linder of Elgin. As a kid growing up in Geneva, the 22-year-old singer and songwriter said he had lots of happy memories of his dad taking him to concerts at the Arcada.
"I always told myself that one of these days I'd like to play there," said Linder, who auditioned with his own blues composition called "River's End." "It's been a goal for a while."
If Linder is chosen as one of the top 20 finalists, he will actually get to play the Arcada's 900-seat auditorium. But in the meantime, he and other competition hopefuls have to impress a panel of judges up in the venue's more intimate Club Arcada on the third floor.
As a cozy cabaret-style space, the Club Arcada overflows with images and memorabilia tied to Hollywood and music greats like Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong who previously played the venue.
"It may or may not add a hair or two to the intimidation factor," said Ron Onesti, a returning Suburban Chicago's Got Talent judge who is also the CEO and president of Onesti Entertainment and the Arcada. "So far it's been a good mixture we've seen, but the thing about this competition is the heart of people who want to do well."
For 2018, Suburban Chicago's Got Talent at the Arcada Theatre is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group, Salon Lorrene and the village of Schaumburg.
The Top 20 and Top 15 competition rounds are set respectively on Sundays, July 8 and 29. New guest judges for the competition include Jim Peterik, lead singer of The Ides of March; Carl Giammarese, lead singer of The Buckinghams; and jazz vocalist Diva Montell. Returning judges include Onesti and Daily Herald reporter and theater critic Barbara Vitello.
The Top 10 show and finale then jumps to Addison's Little Italy Fest-West on Saturday, Aug. 4. The competition winners will be announced for the grand prize and the Fan Favorite -- chosen from online voting at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent -- before a crowd of up to 4,000 people.
For 2018, the grand prize has been expanded to include a Development Package (custom video, website development, mentor and photo session), a trip for two to either Nashville or Cleveland, a headline concert and an opening act slot for a national act at Schaumburg's Septemberfest on Saturday, Sept. 1. The Fan Favorite Prize is being finalized.
"It's a great opportunity," said Barrington singer Shannon Stevens, who auditioned on her 16th birthday with Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats." "Everyone was really nice at the audition. It wasn't scary at all."