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Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010 01:02 am

Autumn is showtime

The season’s guide to theater in central Illinois


Sangamon Auditorium will present A Chorus Line on Nov. 2.

As many Springfield residents look forward to the weather finally cooling down, fans of locally produced entertainment can’t wait for the theater season to heat up. It might seem counter-intuitive, but a depressed economy actually offers residents a few benefits this year as venues compete to lure budget-conscious audiences. Some area managers are lowering ticket prices and offering extra perks like pre-show meals or post-show discussions. An emerging rivalry may offer additional benefits to theater patrons — Sangamon Auditorium has dumped its longtime booking agent, but that company is now working to bring a short season of Broadway shows to the Prairie Capital Convention Center starting in October. Our annual fall theater guide has all the details.

Hoogland Center for the Arts

Chicago – Aug. 27-29, Sept. 3-5
A Long Way Home – Sept. 10-12
Murder in the Wings – Oct. 2

The Hoogland will host a special Gala Event accompanied by a performance of Chicago on Friday, Aug. 27. Guests for the evening, which consists of cocktail hour, dinner, auction, show, and reception, should dress in formal or Roaring 20s attire.

Springfield Theatre Centre at the Hoogland Center for the Arts
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Oct. 15-17, 22-24
Dear Edwina Junior (kids show) – Nov. 5-7, 12-14
White Christmas – Dec. 3-5, 10-12

First incorporated as the Springfield Theatre Guild in 1947, the STC is one of the area’s oldest still-active theater groups. Although its venue has changed many times, the Theatre Centre still offers quality community shows each year along with performances for kids (White Rabbit) and by teenagers (ACTT).

Rockballet at the Sangamon Auditorium
Sept. 11-12

Two dance companies merged in 1975 to form the Springfield Ballet Company, which educates and entertains with dance and dance education. Rockballet, which along with The Nutcracker is the organization’s most public and popular performance, was born in the mid ’90s. The high-energy, full-throttle event blends intense choreography and rock music to create an unforgettable atmosphere. This year’s theme, the 1970s, draws upon the work of Queen, Led Zeppelin, and others.

Sangamon Auditorium at University of Illinois Springfield  
Buddy Guy – Oct. 10
Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Co. – Oct. 13
David Sedaris – Oct. 22
A Chorus Line – Nov. 2
The Incredible Speediness of Jamie Cavanaugh – Nov. 5
Paul Taylor Dance Co. – Nov. 7
Spring Awakening – Nov. 14
Drumline Live – Nov. 21
Legally Blonde, The Musical – Dec. 6

Although working without its longtime booking agent, the Sangamon Auditorium staff has once again built variety and name recognition into its lineup of Broadway, Visiting Artists, and Family Series shows. Special package options and pre-show dinners are available for specific events. The season continues through May 2011 with shows like Mamma Mia! and performers like Arlo Guthrie.

UIS Studio Theater
The Heidi Chronicles – Oct. 22-24, 28-30

Prairie Capital Convention Center brings Broadway to Springfield with Grease on Dec. 7.

Prairie Capital Convention Center – Broadway in Springfield
Fiddler on the Roof – Oct. 17
Grease – Dec. 7

Theatre Council Productions, Sangamon Auditorium’s former booking agent, is bringing Broadway shows to the Prairie Capital Convention Center in a new “Broadway in Springfield” series. Other shows in the quartet of hits include The Color Purple (January) and Monty Python’s Spamalot (May).

Best of the Rest

Here are some other fall selections in and around the Springfield area:

Theater in the Park at Lincoln’s New Salem
Dividing the Estate – Aug. 27-28
New Salem Harmony – Sept. 3-4

The Little Theater on the Square – Sullivan
Greater Tuna – Oct. 1-3, 8-10
Pete ’N Keely – Oct. 29-31, Nov. 5-7
The Santaland Diaries – Dec. 3-5
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – Dec. 10-12, 15-19

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois
The Bald Soprano and The Lesson – Oct. 7-9, 13-17
Macbeth – Oct.14-16, 20-24
Iphigenia and Other Daughters – Oct. 28-30, Nov. 3-7
217- 333-6700

Millikin University
All My Sons – Oct. 6-10
The Drowsy Chaperone – Nov. 12-14
Dead Man’s Cell Phone – Dec. 8-11

Illinois State University
Playboy of the Western World – Sept. 29-30, Oct. 1-3
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – Oct. 7-10, 12-16
Measure for Measure – Oct. 27-31
Les Liaisons Dangereuses – Nov. 11-14
Major Barbara – Dec. 8-11
Dance Theatre – Dec. 9-11
Madrigal Dinners – Dec. 2-4, 9-11

Jacksonville Theater Guild
Rumors – Oct. 14-17
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – Dec. 9-12

ADHD Productions at the Hoogland Center for the Arts
The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Oct. 28-30

Heartland Theater Company – Bloomington
Woman in Mind – Sept. 16-19, 23-26, 30, Oct. 1-3
Three for the Show – Nov. 4-7, 11-14, 18-21
A Tuna Christmas – Dec. 9-12, 16-19

Station in Champaign
Circle Mirror Transformation – Sept. 30-Oct. 16
A Steady Rain – Oct. 28-Nov. 13
Almost, Maine – Dec. 2-18

Contact Zach Baliva at