Corn Stock Theatre will present the beloved American classic holiday story of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play one night only on Saturday, December 19th at 7:30 pm. The production transposes the holiday cinematic classic movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed with a clever twist thrown in: the story is staged as a live radio broadcast: Seven actors portray numerous characters, and sound effects are done by two Foley (sound effect) artists.
Director Anna Oxborrow has always loved the holiday classic and the lesson we learn from it when she stated, “It’s a Wonderful Life has a beautiful lesson behind it, that we should be grateful for the little things and more so, being grateful for the people in our lives and how they all affect our lives. There is a reason we are in each other’s lives.”
With COVID-19 constraints, the cast and crew adhered to maintaining social distance while rehearsing which actually worked well for a radio based script. Each of the seven actors were positioned at their own station and the two sound effect gurus working the Foley table were also staged away from the rest of the cast.
Jeramie Glass (George Bailey/young George)
Continued Oxborrow, “It isn’t often you get to see how a radio show is made and I hope this gives our viewers a glance into a radio show from the 1940’s.” Five of the seven cast members are playing multiple characters, but they all come into the radio studio with a base character (think actors playing actors who play actors) that viewers will get to know based on their nonverbal communication and how they set up their area.
The cast includes Nathan Irwin, Jeremy Glass, Greg Blume, Chris Peterlin, Megan Johnston, Celeste Matheson and Grace Blume. Sound effects Foley table gurus include Theresa Black and Kristin Whitaker.
“I hope the audience walks away knowing that they matter to Corn Stock Theatre and that they matter to the people who are in their lives,” reflected Oxborrow. Tickets are $18.95 ($15 plus a $3.95 service fee) and are available at https://bit.ly/cstwonderfullife
Corn Stock Theatre is adapting to the new reality where theatres aren’t hosting live performances due to COVID with a new Digital Play Series. Normally, Corn Stock would be preparing for it’s Winter Season where smaller audiences see performances in the Theatre Center. Tonight, “The Other Half” will premiere this new digital play series in lieu of the cancelled Winter Season with a live stream performance beginning at 7:30 pm. A second live stream opportunity will take place on Thursday, September 24 beginning at 7:30 pm.
An original play by Jonathan Lane, “The Other Half” is directed by Chris Peterlin and features Nathan Apodaca as Sora, Alexa Johnson as Pip, Megan Johnston as Mira’s Mind, Anna Oxborrow as Sora’s Mind, and Nyk Sutter-Downs as Pip’s Mind. Pip and Sora, two college freshmen who meet each other on their first day on campus, and soon a relationship begins to develop and blossom as they navigate the intricacies of life and the dating world with the help of their individual minds. This hysterical and touching play is like How I Met Your Mother meets Inside Out. Live streaming tickets are $10 for an individual code or $15 for a family code www.cornstocktickets.com
Additional shows making up the series include The New Hamlet on Saturday, October 3rd at 7:30 pm and Thursday, October 8th at 7:30 pm, Unidentified Human Remains on Saturday, October 17th at 7:30 pm and The War of the Worlds: The 1938 Radio Play on Friday, October 30th at 7:30 pm.
For more information, call 309-676-2196 or email email@example.com
If you’re looking for live holiday music in the Peoria area this season, you’re in luck! For a dinner theatre option with a holiday twist, try the Best of the Barn Christmas now playing at the Barn III Dinner Theatre in Goodfield. Featuring the Barn’s most popular musical and comedy performances to get you in the holiday spirit from secular to sacred, including some Gaither Vocal Band classics. On Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays, doors open at 6 pm and on Sundays, doors open at 12:30 pm. Now offering a full cash bar, tickets are $45.50 for Thursdays, $48 for Fridays and Sunday brunch and $49.50 for Saturdays and are available by calling 309-965-2545 or visit http://www.thebarniii.com
Or how about a musical meal with a holiday theme on the Spirit of Peoria? Barry Cloyd and Brian “Fox” Ellis with Prairie Folklore Theatre will present “A Civil War Christmas” which celebrates love, family and friends with songs and stories from the Civil War Era. Lunch cruises are scheduled for Nov. 30, Dec. 4, 6, 13 & 14 from 1 – 3 pm. Tickets are $42 for adults and $21 for children 4 – 15 and reservations are required. Dinner Cruises are scheduled for Dec. 6 & 13 and tickets are $48 for adults and $24 for children 4 – 15 and reservations are required. To make reservations and for more information, call 309-637-8000 or visit http://www.spiritofpeoria.com
Another dinner theatre holiday show this year is Plaid Tidings: A Special Holiday Edition of Forever Plaid which will be presented by the Metamora Thesbian Society at Metamora Fields Golf Club (located at 801 Progress St. in Metamora) Dec. 5 – 7 beginning at 6 pm and on Dec. 8 beginning at 1 pm. Tickets for the buffet dinner and the show are $40 and are available by calling 309-367-4000. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/MetamoraThespianSociety
The Festival of Lights annual musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be presented at Eastlight Theatre beginning at 7:30 pm on Dec. 6 & 7 and Dec. 11 – 14 plus on Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 at 2 pm. In its 29th year on Eastlight’s stage, the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical tells the biblical story of Joseph and his eleven brothers. Tickets are $20 and are available online athttp://www.eastlighttheatre.com
For the kids, find live holiday music in Peoria with Frozen Jr. which will be presented by Community Children’s Theatre at Peoria Players Theatre (located at 4300 N University St. in Peoria) at 7 pm on Dec. 6 and 7 and Dec. 13 and 14 plus at 1:30 pm on Dec. 7 and 8 and Dec. 14 and 15. Featuring the songs from the animated film, tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for children ages 12 and under and are available at www.cctpeoria.org
Another kids holiday classic, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical, will be presented at the Peoria Civic Center Theater at 7 pm. Tickets range from $29.95 – $59.95 and are available at the box office by calling 800-745-3000 or online at http://ticketmaster.com
If you like Gospel music, Christmas in the Country might be more to your liking. It will take place at Five Points Washington (located at 360 N Wilmor Rd. in Washington) on Nov. 30 beginning at 7 pm featuring Shawn Degenhart and the Gospelfest Singers. Admission is free with a love offering at the conclusion of the show. For more information, visit www.gospelfestministries.com
If choral music is your preference, there are a few great options this holiday season. Starting with the Philharmonic Chorale who will present a Christmas Concert at the ICC Performing Arts Center (located at 1 College Dr. in East Peoria) on Dec. 1 beginning at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students & senior citizens. For tickets and information call 309-694-5136 or visit at www.ArtsatICC.com
The all male voice four-part harmony Orpheus Club of Peoria will present their Winter Concert at at the First Federated Church (located at 3601 N. Sheridan Rd. in Peoria) also on Dec. 1 beginning at 3 pm. Hear an afternoon of music under the direction of Russel Boulton with songs of the season. The Club has been entertaining the Peoria area for 117 years. Admission is $5 at the door. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/OrpheusPeoria
The Peoria International Choir will present its Winter 2019 Concert at First Christian Church (located at 6400 N University St. in Peoria) on Dec. 7 beginning at 7 pm. Featuring “A Ceremony of Carols” by Benjamin Britten, suggested donations are $20 for a family, $10 per person and $5 for seniors aged 65 and over. For more information, visit www.peoriainternationalchoir.org
For those who want to sing along, the Annual Peoria Sing-It-Yourself Messiah will take place at First Federated Church (located at 3601 N Sheridan Rd. in Peoria) on Dec. 8 beginning at 2:30 pm. Dr. John Jost of Bradley University returns to conduct with soloists Kristin Lelm, soprano; Alison Meuth, mezzo-soprano; Caleb Bent, tenor, and Mat Pentecost, baritone. Admission is free and no vocal experience necessary. Messiah scores will be available for purchase. For more information, visit www.ffcpeoria.com
Or maybe you like to sing along to traditional Christmas carols. If so, you can do exactly that at the The 72nd Annual Journal Star Family Christmas Sing which will take place in the Peoria Civic Center’s Great Hall beginning at 7 pm. Featuring song leaders Lee Wenger and Rebekah Bourland and pianist Denise Adams, the words to the songs will be displayed on a giant screen. There will be free hot chocolate and cookies as well as free parking in the Civic Center parking lot as well as in the Hamilton parking deck. Admission is free.
And the Peoria Area Civic Chorale will present “An American Family Christmas” at Five Points Performing Arts Center (located at 360 Wilmor Rd. in Washington) on Dec. 13 & 14 at 7:30 pm. Featuring guest soloist Soprano Megan Koch, an alumnus of Illinois Wesleyan University from Dunlap as well as the Peoria Area Civic Chorale’s Youth Chorus and this year’s Young Artist Competition winners. The Friday night performance will also include performances by two 90-voice Youth Choruses: the Children’s Festival Chorus and the Junior High Festival Chorus. Tickets are $20 for adults, $8 for students and $18 for groups of 10 or more and are available at the Peoria Civic Chorale box office or by calling 309-693-6725. For more information, visit www.peoriacivicchorale.org
For a jazzy vibe for live holiday music in Peoria, consider attending Jazz to the World! with the Judy Page Project which will take place at the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts (located at 1327 East Kelly Ave. in Peoria Heights) on Dec. 6 beginning at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 and are available online at www.thebettyjayne.com or $15 at the door.
Enjoy a Christmas Cabaret will take place at the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts (located at 1327 East Kelly Ave. in Peoria Heights) on Dec. 14 beginning at 7 pm. Tickets are $20 and are available online at www.thebettyjayne.com or $24 at the door.
Featuring stars from the Broadway smash hit Jersey Boys singing iconic Yuletide classics as well as their signature renditions of the greatest rock and roll hits of the 1960’s, the Midtown Men Holiday Hits Show will be presented at Five Points Performing Arts Center (located at 360 N. Wilmor Road in Washington) beginning at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $32, $42 and $75 for VIP seating along with an optional Holiday Social prior to the show from 6 – 7 pm which includes live music, holiday appetizers, a hot cocoa bar, coffee, tea, water, popcorn and a wine tasting for an additional $17 and are available by calling 309-444-8222 or online at https://www.fivepointswashington.org/live-five-points
Or for instrumental holiday music, A Merry Little Christmas will take place at Five Points Washington (located at 360 N. Wilmor Rd. in Washington) on Dec. 6 beginning at 7 pm. Featuring the Peoria Pops Orchestra performing carols and songs both old and new plus Santa will also visit. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $8 for students and groups of 10 or more and are available at www.fivepointswashington.org
Another instrumental holiday concert is the Prairie Wind Ensemble who will perform their Holiday Concert at the Bertha Frank Performing Arts Center (located at 350 N Illinois Ave. in Morton) on Dec. 13 beginning at 7:30 pm. A 70-member adult symphonic band with musicians from the Peoria area, tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and students and are available at the door. For more information, visit http://www.prairiewindensemble.com
Don’t forget that the Heartland Festival Orchestra will be performing the classic Tchaikovsky music accompanying the Peoria Ballet when they present the Nutcracker Ballet at the Peoria Civic Center Theater at 2 pm and 7:30 pm on Dec. 14 and at 2 pm on Dec. 15. Featuring guest artists from the Joffrey Ballet, tickets range from $10 – $50 and are available at the box office by calling 800-745-3000 or online at http://ticketmaster.com
And for a truly unique holiday musical performance, Lindsey Stirling will perform at the Peoria Civic Center Theater on Dec. 6 at 7:30 pm. Her unique combination of combining dance while performing on the electric violin will be presented with a holiday theme in this show. Tickets range from $49.50 – $89.50 and are available at the box office by calling 800-745-3000 or online at http://ticketmaster.com
The Peoria Players Holiday Special featuring the Peoria Area Performing Arts Studio will be presented at Peoria Players Theatre (located at 4300 N. University inPeoria) beginning at 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday and also on Sunday beginning at 2 pm. Tickets $20 for adults and $15 for ages 20 and younger and are available now at the box office, by calling 309-688-4473 or online at www.peoriaplayers.org
Another live holiday music in Peoria option is Christmas at Northwoods, a musical production, will take place at Northwoods Community Church (located at 10700 N Allen Rd. in Peoria) on Dec. 15 – 20 beginning at 7 pm daily plus at 3 pm on Saturday & Sunday, December 21 & 22 with an additional show at 11 am on Dec. 22. Admission is free, however tickets are required and are available at https://northwoods.church/christmas2019
And finally, if you’re looking for great live music for New Year’s Eve, check out these two events: The Dueling Pianos Annual New Year’s Eve BASH will take place at The Waterhouse (located at 316 SW Washington St. in Peoria) on Dec. 31 beginning at 7 pm. Featuring a two entree buffet dinner, 4 types of draft beer, 7 types of wine, premium mixed drinks, soft drinks, New Year’s Eve party favors, a champagne toast at midnight and dueling pianos show presented by Central Illinois Dueling Pianos, tickets are $89 and are available at http://www.waterhousepeoria.com
Or for a New Orleans New Year, join The Todd Kelly Quartet, Nathan Taylor Band and juanGoblin at the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts (located at 1327 East Kelly Ave. in Peoria Heights) on Dec. 31 beginning at 7 pm. Featuring New Orleans inspired food, tickets are $60 per person and are available online available at www.thebettyjayne.com
Fans of the Rat Pack will enjoy Ring-a-Ding-Ding New Year which will be presented by Peoria Players Theatre (located at 4300 N. University inPeoria) beginning at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $25 for all ages which includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres and are available beginning December 13th at the box office or by calling 309-688-4473. For more information, visit www.peoriaplayers.org
Fun Home was a musical produced as part of the 2018-19 Corn Stock Winter Season.
The Corn Stock Theatre Winter Season opens on Friday, October 11 with the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Performances will take place at the Corn Stock Theatre Center beginning at 7:30 pm on Friday & Saturday and at 2:30 pm the 2nd and 3rd weekends of October. The protagonist of the plot is a 15 year old who is autistic and struggles interpreting everyday life. He’s caught next to his neighbor’s dog which has been speared with a garden fork. Now that he’s under suspicion, he’s determined to vindicate himself by solving this mystery. His process of discovering the truth upturns his world.
The Corn Stock Theatre Center is located a little further into Bradley Park beyond the “Tent” location.
Many people are not aware that Corn Stock has productions in the winter. They assume that since the “Tent” is down for the season, the theatre is closed. These folks have obviously not driven a short way beyond the tent into the park to find the Theatre Center. It houses a black box theatre where the winter season as well as the Corn Stock for Kids shows are presented. The theatre is smaller, but still in the round like the tent.
Shows produced in the winter at Corn Stock are the types of shows you won’t see at the other community theatres. The shows produced here are generally not main stage content. They tend to be much more intimate partially because the stage is only a foot away from patrons. The content of the productions is also usually geared toward a more adult audience.
Which is actually the name of the 2nd show of this season [title of show]. It’s a musical about a couple of friends who decide to submit a show to a new musical theatre festival which is only 3 weeks away. A tribute to musical theatre, it’s the type of show you won’t see produced anywhere else in the Peoria area.
Out of Sight, Out of Murder was performed during last year’s Winter Season at Corn Stock.
Another title you probably won’t find at any other Peoria area theatres is 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche which will play as the 3rd offering for this winter season in January. The show takes place during 1956 when the atomic bomb sirens sound. Winner of the 2012 NYC International Fringe Festival as Best Overall Production, the show delivers hysterical laughs, sexual innuendos, unsuccessful repressions, and delicious discoveries.
The season finishes with a Shakespearian classic, Romeo & Juliet. The ultimate romantic story of lovers whose families do not approve is a timeless tragedy. If you’re looking for a unique date night that doesn’t inlcude Netflix again, this is a great option. The Corn Stock winter season shows deliver live theatre that prompts intelligent conversation.
Season tickets are $50 which is a $12 savings over individual tickets. Individual tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for students for all shows except [title of show] (a musical) which is $20 for adults or $14 for students. To buy tickets, call 309-676-2196 or buy online at http://cornstocktheatre.com
PEORIA — One of the Green Army soldiers from “Toy Story 3” that will swarm into the Peoria Civic Center arena this weekend as part of Disney On Ice: Worlds of Enchantment is Leocadia Lellig, a 19-year-old champion skater from Reading, Pa.
Leo, as she’s called, also plays a seahorse during the “The Little Mermaid” sequence at the Disney show that will offer six performances Friday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Sept. 29 at the Peoria Civic Center where tickets start as low as $15.
She calls it a dream job, traveling from city to city with the 40 other skaters in the show on a schedule running from September through May. “We’ll be in Lincoln, Neb. after Peoria but we’re going all over with dates in New Mexico and California planned,” said Lellig in a telephone interview.
On ice since she was four, Lellig was a competitive skater for eight years, capping her career with two weeks of performances at an indoor ski park in Brazil two years ago.
In her second year on the “Disney on Ice” tour, she hopes to skate her way to the top. “I’d like to work my way up to have a principal role with ‘Disney on Ice. I also look forward to going overseas,'” she said.
Disney on Ice: Worlds of Enchantment
As one of the longest-running ice shows around in the world, “Disney on Ice” is a globe-trotting sensation. “It started in the 1980s. But there’s always something new. It’s been revamped many times over the years,” said Lellig, one of the some 100 individuals that fill four buses as the show makes its way across the country while 10 semi-trailers are required to transport the lights, fixtures and props used in each production (that takes 12 1/2 hours to set up each time).
A ballet enthusiast, Lellig enjoys life on the road. “We usually have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off to explore the cities we visit,” she said.
How can you recognize Lellig, who’s among the Disney skaters who like to eat chocolate before a performance? Simple. She’ll be the one wearing a pair of her mom’s diamond earrings. “I’ve done that at every competition or show I’ve performed in,” she said.
ExplorePeoria.com fans can get a $5 off select tickets for the Friday, September 27th 7 pm show, the Saturday, September 28th 7 pm show and the Sunday, September 29th 5 pm by using the code WORLDS5 at Ticketmaster.comValid through September 29, 2019 on price levels P4 & P5 0nly.
PEORIA HEIGHTS — Greg Batton, Peoria radio host featured on the “The Greg and Dan Show” on WMBD-AM/FM 1470/100.3, will do a comedy turn as the host of an evening of standup comedy on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts in Peoria Heights.
While offering some stories of his own, Batton will present a comedy feature featuring headliner Dr. Gonzo along with Matt Smith, referred to Peoria’s funniest lawyer, and Eddy P, the KungFool Comic.
“I got the standup bug shortly after the Washington tornado,” said Batton, referring to a benefit program performed in 2013. “I have no fantasy of doing it as a permanent gig.
“I might do it for a few times in a month and then not do anything for a couple of months,” he said.
“I’m a radio guy so I love telling stories. I’m a story-telling kind of comic, not a punchline kind of guy. I’m a talker,” said Batton.
Dr. Gonzo aka John Means
Dr. Gonzo, a comedian from Mason City who honed his act performing with rock stars like Huey Lewis, Jackson Brown and Santana in the 1980s, will bring his guitar and lively sense of humor on stage at the first of three comedy acts at the Peoria Heights center this fall. Dr. Gonzo is the stage name that John Means has used for the past 40 years, finding his niche as the funnyman at rock concerts in the 1980s, opening for headliners like Joe Walsh and Jefferson Starship. “I was the cartoon before the movie,” said Means.
When he’s not practicing rock humor, Gonzo serves as a substitute teacher in Mason City, the central Illinois city where he grew up. “I also paint–buildings, murals, whatever I can. It relaxes me,” he said.
Means, 63, recently returned from comedy dates in California where he led the crowd in a singalong of “Lime and the Coconut,” the old Harry Nilsson song, at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco at the city’s 39th annual Comedy Day, an event he’s been a part of almost from its inception. “They were all stoned. The smell of pot was everywhere. It’s legal in California,” he said. “Wait until next year when I play Peoria,” said Means, recognizing the recreational use of cannabis will be legal in Illinois in 2020.
As for the material he’s planning for his Heights performance, Gonzo said it all depends. “I’ve been going back to my youth for some things but I still do impersonations of rock acts,” he said. Means said that traveling back from California by train allows him to meet people on the way as well as gathering experiences that might wind up as stage material.
The comedy lineup on Oct. 18 includes Matt Colgan, Michelle DeSutter and Matt Blind Stein. “Matt lost his sight three years ago and has developed a great routine,” said Batton.
On Nov. 16, the evening of comedy will feature Jeff Govednik, Edgar Sandoval and Joe Roderick.”Edgar works the comedy routine hard. He’s on the road a lot so he’ll perform at open mike nights in Las Vegas when he’s there,” said Batton.
As for the Sept. 28 show, Batton said raunchy humor wasn’t on the menu. “I’d say we’re somewhere between PG13 and a soft R but this definitely isn’t for kids,” he said.
The audience is invited to stick around after 9 p.m. when the comedy acts are over, he said. “The crowd is invited to stay and have cocktails. The comedians will be around. That’s not the usual routine for a comedy club,” said Batton.
The oldest Art Fair in the country, the Peoria Art Guild Fine Art Fair. will celebrate 57 years of bringing original art to central Illinois at the 2019 Fine Art Fair on the Peoria Riverfront Friday, September 27th through Sunday, September 29th. As one of the oldest art organizations in the country, the Peoria Art Guild Fine Art Fair is nationally recognized.
You’ll find art from 130 juried fine artists featuring original works of art including jewelry, painting, ceramics, photography, digital art, printmaking, mixed media, metal, glass, wood, sculpture, fiber, leather, and wearable fiber. All fair-goers will be able to help create the interactive Community Mural designed for adults. It takes hundreds of people to participate in this fun, hands-on activity and watch as the mural literally comes together tile-by-tile over this three-day event. Attendees can also try their hand at wheel-throwing a clay creation in the mobile pottery studio.
Younger folks will enjoy the Kid’s Art Festival where they can create their own masterpieces. Each of the 7 tent areas will have activities revolving around the elements of art: exploring watercolor paints, collages, landscapes, printmaking, drawing with pencil and pastels, creating sculptures and coil pots plus large interactive mural plus face painting. Also, the ISU Center for Math, Science & Technology and River City Labs will be on hand with interactive STEM projects.
The “I Buy Art” campaign is exclusive to the Fine Art Fair in Peoria. Launched last year to reinforce a philosophy that the best way to support the arts is to buy art. “We are thrilled to encourage this initiative that promotes Peoria as a community that supports its artists. This will enhance our Fine Art Fair and our city as a supportive art community that welcomes our guests and artists to come back another time and explore more of what Peoria has to offer.”, said Shannon Cox Co-Director of the Fine Art Fair. This year’s collector buttons are purple and can be obtained from the artists when you purchase their work.
Featured at this year’s event are 2019 Poster Artist- Brian Jensen, 2019 Emerging Artist- Stephen Younglove, 2019 Guest Artist- Katie VerKuilen and 2019 Guest Artist- Tyler Brandon. Hours are 5 pm – 8 pm on Friday, from 10 am – 5 pm on Saturday and from 10 am – 4 pm on Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults per day or free for Peoria Art Guild members and kids 12 and under. Parking is free located near Festival Park on the street and in area parking lots.
Live entertainment will take place throughout the fair with Carl Bopp on the accordian, the Nitsch Theatre Arts Singapella, Natasha Greene and Scott Guirrelo on the Native American Flute & Hand Drumming, Emilele on the ukelele, Logan Nickerson singing and playing guitar, Kyle Bassett performing magic, Joe Couri singing and playing guitar, Sanson Lunival Lonergan, a Grand Master Hula Hooper and Nick Lee & Sara on Friday. On Saturday, enjoy the Bradley Jazz Ensemble, Nitsch Theatre Arts Rising Stars, Projekts, the German American Central Society of Alphorns, the Bradley Chorale and the Mudra School of Dance Limited . And on Sunday, hear James Herr, an acoustic solo artist, Audrey Voss, a student from Underground School of Sound and watch the Peoria Ballet and Mithili dance troupe.
Food from Nick N Willy’s Pizza, Mikes Knot Just Ribs, Untamed Chef, Haddad’s, Gramma Nana’s Kitchen, Popcorn Heaven, Demarchi’s Coffee and Jane’s Sweet Addiction will be available for purchase and beer and wine stations will be set up throughout the fair. Find full details and order pre-event tickets at https://www.peoriaartguild.org
PEORIA – Nicki Haschke is a good person to talk to about the community theater scene in central Illinois.
As business administrator for Peoria Players Theatre for the past 27 years, Haschke, who turns 47 next month, spent time on the community theater stage as a youngster, starting out with a Corn Stock Theater production of “The King and I” when she was just five years old.
It’s a family thing for Nicki. After all, her mother, Sherry Haschke, serves as bookkeeper for Peoria Players and has been a mainstay with the theater group for 41 years.
There’s plenty of history associated with the Peoria Players organization which starts its 101st season next week. That makes it the longest running theater in Illinois and 4th oldest in the nation.
The 2019-2020 season includes “Tarzan” (the Disney version), “Million Dollar Quartet”, “Matilda” (by Roald Dahl), “Kinky Boots”, “Raisin in the Sun” and “Mamma Mia.”
“Mamma Mia” is the Abba-filled musical “that’s our box-office record-breaking show from two years ago,” said Haschke, noting that musicals have proven to be crowd favorites when it comes to filling seats at the Players theater in Lakeview Park.
Coming off the 100th anniversary year when theatergoers were able to vote on some of their favorite shows to be performed, five of the six shows offered this season are musicals.
“We try to find the right balance, blending family musicals with something new,” she said. Haschke made the point that Players personnel are already working on the 2020-2021 season.
Central Illinois is blessed when it comes to community theater talent, she said. “Three years ago, Eastlight, Corn Stock and Players all had auditions around the same time. We don’t usually overlap but every show had a huge cast,” said Haschke, adding that it takes an average of about 50 people to put on a Players production.
“It’s part of the great arts community we have here,” she said.
Haschke’s familiarity with the Players’ stage means she can recall program highlights such as the trained dog act imported from Ohio that made such a hit in “Will Rogers Follies” in 1997 and big production shows like “Music Man” (2010) and “Beauty and the Beast” (2016).
But having just unveiled a new season, Haschke is looking ahead, encouraging the public to take advantage of a season ticket offer—a seat for all six shows for $100. Individual tickets are $20 for adults while youth tickets are $15 each.
Those that haven’t been to a Players show in a while will be happy to discover that comfortable theater seats were installed last year, she said. Both the front lobby and box office have also been remodeled, noted Haschke.
PEORIA HEIGHTS – The Blickenstaff touch was in evidence at the ribbon-cutting for the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts in Peoria Heights on August 15.
The transformation of the Kelly Avenue Library into the arts center is just one of the area projects that developer Kim Blickenstaff is working on.
Over 400 people attended an event that promised cupcakes, live music and a cash bar, said Jenny Parkhurst, executive director of performing arts at the Heights center, named for Blickenstaff’s mother, as well as the Scottish Rite Theater in Downtown Peoria, another Blickenstaff project.
“This would have been the 100th birthday for Betty Jayne,” said Parkhurst of the significance of the ribbon-cutting date.
“We’re available for bookings and private parties,” she said, pointing to a lineup that already includes a Halloween Goblin Bash and the “Greg and Dan Show Unplugged”(Nov. 23), a special performance by the morning radio team on WMBD 1470/100.3.
“Here at the art center, we’re also looking at a comedy series—‘Stand Up in the Heights,’” said Parkhurst, adding that youth events and live music programs were also scheduled.
The addition of air conditioning at the Scottish Rite site means that 900-seat venue would soon be open to larger shows, she noted.
Peoria Heights Mayor Mike Phelan expressed appreciation for the art center. “I spent time in the library as a child. It’s exciting to see it now under private ownership welcoming all walks of life. You can feel the energy here,” he said.
“Work was all done by local contractors while the Farnsworth Group, the architects involved, preserved the uniqueness of the building,” said Phelan, referring to the library’s design by the late architect Richard L. Doyle whose work is in evidence elsewhere in the Heights—Tower Park, Village Hall and the Congregational Church.
Also on hand at the Thursday ribbon-cutting of the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center was Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis who recalled a tour of the facility led by Blickenstaff several months earlier. “He said the band would be here, the bar would be there. He did it,” said Ardis admiringly.
Mark Misselhorn, chairman of Peoria’s Downtown Advisory Commission, liked what the center has to offer. “There’s a great vibe here plus it’s not duplicating anything else in the area,” he said.
Lee Wenger, recently retired from WCBU-FM, Peoria’s public radio station, gave the new center a thumbs-up as did Jonathon and Nikki Romain, busy developing an arts center of their own at the old Greeley School in Peoria’s North Valley.
“We had to come to see what they’ve done here,” said Jonathon Romain.