Star quality was evident as 10 finalists gave it their all on stage for LaGrange Park’s version of “The X Factor” reality TV music competition.
Fortunately, everybody was a winner with cash prizes and an appreciative audience at the Memorial Park amphitheater. The competition in three age groups was sponsored by the Community Park District of LaGrange Park and Premiere Design and Cabinetry in LaGrange Park.
With stage presence beyond her years, 7-year-old Hailey Vlcek of Brookfield started out the competition wearing a midnight blue dress and a sparkling light blue cape that trailed behind her.
Fearlessly, Hailey belted out “Let It Go,” the hit from the blockbuster movie, “Frozen,” much to the delight of every little girl singing along in the audience.
Audrey Puckett, 8, from LaGrange Park, switched gears from dancing in the contest two years ago to playing three short selections on a keyboard. After taking lessons for just two years, Audrey’s fingers flew for a flawless performance.
In the division for 9- to 12-year-olds, Maddy Puglese, 9, from LaGrange Park, sang “Cup Song,” popularized by Anna Kendrick in the film, “Pitch Perfect.”
LaGrange Park neighbors Kate Paras, 12, and Sarah Kozar, 9, combined for an a cappella version of Katy Perry’s hit, ”Wide Awake.” On their entry forms, they said they are so close they could be sisters and are inspired by TV’s “Glee” star Lea Michele.
Three performers battled for top billing in the third division for teens age 13 to 19.
Brother and sister duo Michael and Marie Labellarte of North Riverside sang “Pompeii,” penned by British rockers, Bastille. Michael alternated between beatboxing and singing his portion of the a cappella duet.
Meghan Selip, a junior at Lyons Township High School, swayed and sang “Put Your Records On,” by English singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae.
Talent show organizer Darla Goudeau, who coordinates the park district’s summer music series, said she panicked momentarily when Selip showed up to perform with a CD.
“We were set up for iPods,” Goudeau said. “But our band was able to download a karaoke YouTube version, which saved the day.”
The final performers were 15-year-old twins Courtney and Arden Kurhayez from LaGrange Highlands, who gave a rockin’ version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’” The sisters traded solos as Courtney kept the beat on a drum set and Arden walked around while playing electric guitar.
As judges made some tough decisions backstage on the talent, audience members stepped up to the mike to sing with Chicago’s Live Band Karaoke, a versatile group which performed for the evening’s first half hour.
First, a pint-sized ensemble of six “Frozen” fans reprised “Let It Go.” Next, audience members waved lit cellphones instead of lighters as Bill Allan sang “The Weight.” Allan, who grew up in LaGrange Park, supervised an LTTV high school crew taping the performances, which will be aired on local cable channels and the station’s website.
First-place awards went to Hailey, Maddy and Meghan, and second-place was awarded to the twin rockers Courtney and Arden in the oldest division.
Goudeau said she was relieved the weather cooperated, as well as all the technical arrangements.
“Our first three concerts were indoors, due to rain,” she said. “It was great to enjoy a beautiful evening.”
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