As the balmy days of summer recede and cooler temperatures begin to prevail, it’s traditional for the theatrical venues of central Illinois to start heating up. This fall’s stage-bound offerings are all over the map, with touring and regional companies providing examples of drama and musical theater ranging from improvisational comedy to opera to true crime.
Speaking of which, this season at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, the Springfield Theatre Centre will present a production of Bonnie & Clyde (Oct. 12-21), a musical endeavoring to tell the story of the young, beautiful, bank-robbing couple of song, screen and tabloid fame. Also from STC, no Halloween season would feel complete without the sweet transvestitism and interplanetary biker-butchery of the ever popular counter-cultural favorite Rocky Horror Show, set to return to the HCTFA stage October 25-27; and adolescent angst will find itself dramatized via 13, a popular musical expression of the trials and tribulations of that titular age from Nov. 9-18. Local spontaneous comedy troupe Capital City Improv will take the stage on Sept. 7 for an evening of short-form, high-stakes improvisational gamesmanship, and a few weeks later, the Portuguese Rodeo Clown Company will bring its own unique improv stylings to the fore for a two night stand (Sept. 28 and 29). Other Hoogland offerings this season include the Springfield Dance Theatre’s production of the ballet version of Peter Pan (Nov. 15) and Katie Deal performing her one-woman show, Today, Tomorrow & Forever: A Tribute to Patsy Cline (Sept. 23). The HCFTA will also be presenting a special production of 1776 – the hit musical depiction of the second Continental Congress – to be performed inside the Old State Capitol in celebration of Illinois’ bicentennial (Sept. 28 – Oct. 7). For details and tickets, visit hcfta.org or call 523-2787.
Sangamon Auditorium, located on the campus of University of Illinois Springfield, brings the world class comedy this season with Who’s Live Anyway? (Oct. 6), a touring, non-copyright-infringing variation on the long-running Comedy Central improvisational game show Whose Line Is It, Anyway?, featuring that show’s perennial stars Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis and Ryan Stiles joined by Joel Murray (younger brother of Bill). Later in the season, fans of nonsensical knighthood won’t want to miss the Nov. 8 return of Monty Python’s Spamalot, replete with holy hand grenades and plenty of coconut-simulated horseplay. Now, is that an African swallow or a European swallow? For details, visit sangamonauditiorium.org or call 206-6160.
The Legacy Theatre will present the Springfield premier of the Broadway hit Violet, described by Wikipedia as “the story of a young, disfigured woman who embarks on a journey by bus from her farm in Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma in order to be healed” and featuring an acclaimed score of geographical setting-appropriate music ranging from bluegrass to gospel to rockabilly. More details at www.atthelegacy.com or 528-9760.
For theater fans not averse to a road trip, the Peoria Eastlight Theatre will present the supernatural musical Disenchanted (Sept. 7-9) followed by the Old Testament razzle-dazzle of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Nov. 30-Dec. 9). Tickets and details can be found at eastlighttheatre.com or by calling 309-699-7469.
Meanwhile, over at the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus, the Krannert Center will host a version of the pseudo-Roman comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Oct. 18-28); opera fans won’t want to miss La Boheme (Oct. 25-28); and those in the mood for something a bit more cerebral should make a beeline for Marat/Sade (Nov. 1-11). More information is available at krannertcenter.com or by calling 217-333-6280.
Scott Faingold can be reached at email@example.com