There’s something very special about going to a live theater performance. It’s even better when the ticket prices won’t break the bank! From east to west and in between, ILLINOISouth is lucky to have some of the best community theater companies around. These talented groups put on shows that can be enjoyed by everyone, often in renovated historic buildings. Need a good idea for a holiday gift? How about season tickets! It’s the gift that keeps on giving all year.
Hard Road Theatre
Highland High School, 12760 Troxler Ave., Highland
Highland Upper Elementary Auditorium, 1800 Lindenthal Ave.
The first show in 2018 is Breaking Up Is Hard to Do at the end of January/first of February. This is a “jukebox musical” featuring the music of Neil Sedaka (take Grandma, she’ll love you for it).
301 W. St. Louis St., Lebanon
Lebanon has a personal connection to author Charles Dickens, who stayed at the Mermaid Inn while visiting the American prairies. It’s no wonder that Dickens’ famous A Christmas Carol has been performed here for more than 30 years. Scrooge will once again be visited by the three Christmas ghosts December 7 – 10. And be sure to mark your calendar for the rest of the season. Ripcord – Nov 9 – 12, 16 – 19, 2017; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – January 25 – 28; & February 1 – 4, 2018; Almost Maine – March 9 – 12, 16 – 19, 2018; Wizard of Oz – May 3 – 6, 10 – 13, 2018
Capitol Theater, 202 S. Main, Waterloo
Founded in 1999 by a group of enthusiastic residents who loved theater, MASC now entertains audiences at five plays each season, and offers a summer camp for children. The 2017-2018 season includes Alice in Wonderland on Nov 10-12 and 17-19, 2017. Although not a typical Christmas show, it’s definitely a holiday treat for the whole family.
Dark of the Moon – Feb. 9-11, 16-18, 2018; An Inspector Calls – Apr. 13-15, 20-22, 2018; Rumors – June 8-10, 15-17, 2018
New Athens Gym, 208 Kaskaskia St.
For 30 years, the Open House players have brought plays and musicals to the stage. In January, they’ll do it again with Lend Me a Tenor. Check for Spring show dates.
1325 N. Market St., Sparta
The Chorus provides community theater entertainment with productions ranging from Broadway musicals to non-musical plays to cabarets featuring themed musical collections. Every year there is a free Christmas Concert that is a gift to their supporters, patrons and community. The 2017/2018 season’s first show is Addam’s Family the Musical on October 27-29 and November 3-5. Other shows include the play, 39 Steps; a Kids Cabaret for ages 4-8th grade, and Unforgettable, an adult Cabaret that’s a tribute to artists who are gone, but not forgotten.
Turkey Hill Grange, IL 15 at Green Mount Rd., Belleville
The Players run a summer camp for kids and put on at least one play during the year. Currently, it’s a dinner theater murder mystery, Girls Night Out, scheduled for October 20 -22, 2017.
Clinton County Showcase
Avon Theater, 525 N 2nd St, Breese
The historic Avon Theater has been renovated by a cadre of community volunteers. Showcase players put on an annual Christmas-themed show that frequently features roles for young performers, so plan to see Everyone’s Christmas Story on December 1 – 3 & 8 – 10. Here’s more: Things My Mother Taught Me on February 9 – 11 & 16 – 18, and Church Basement Ladies in April, plus the annual youth production in July. In 2017, The Lion King, Jr. broke all attendance records for the Showcase! Check back for the fall dates.
1250 E. Rexford St., Centralia
The Little Theatre Players, organized in 1961, have a rich history of theatrical presentations including community-wide musicals, intimate dramas, comedy, dinner theatre & melodrama. Many people are involved in every production both on stage and behind the scenes, including building sets, making costumes, hairdressing, make-up and more.
400-498 East Harris Ave., Greenville
This building has had many incarnations including housing a steam laundry, ice company, dairy and glove factory. Since 1973, it’s been a theater that draws almost 3,000 patrons each year with a season of up to six plays. 2018: Crimes of the Heart – November 9-11 & 16-18; Romeo and Juliet – December 14-16; Company – February 8-10 & 15-17; Peter And The Starcatcher – April 19-21 & 26-29.
119 S. Broadway, Salem
Movies and plays are staged in the renovated Art Deco-style Salem Theatre building. At Christmas, children come dressed in their pajamas for the Polar Express Experience. The “Conductor” punches their tickets when they enter. At the hot chocolate scene in the movie, “elves” pass out cocoa and cookies. Each ticket holder receives a bell like the one in the movie. In January/late February, the play is Southern Fried Funeral. The regular season begins in May/June and runs for a year. There is a one-week children’s camp in the summer that brings in the Missoula Children’s Theatre.
John Stull Performing Art Center
Olney Central College, INFO coming this week last email sent 8/3
305 N. West St., Olney
Live Broadway-style musicals and plays are staged at the Performing Art Center. They have featured a wide range of shows, including Agnes of God in Black Box form, Little Mermaid and a children’s cast in Lion King, Jr.
Brubeck Arts Center
2200 College Dr., Mt. Carmel
Seven or eight shows are scheduled through the year including a Christmas production. The season can include musicals, plays and variety acts. At press time, a few things were already booked: the Beach Boys Number 1 Tribute Band on Saturday, April 21, 2018, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.
Information is from the Holiday Tourism Times. For updated information, please visit each community theater’s listing page.