Being one season shy of a "Diamond Anniversary," the Chicago Street Community Theatre in Valparaiso is happy cast in the role of being one of the treasures for local stage entertainment in Northwest Indiana.
The theater just finished its opening play, "The World's Worst Fairy Godmother," and begins its official 59th Season with an adaptation of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" running Oct. 18 through Nov. 2.
Eric Brant, director of marketing for the Chicago Street Theatre located at 154 W. Chicago St. in Valparaiso, said the production, directed by Bob Cooley, is a unique adaptation since the play utilizes only seven actors who double as multiple characters, as well as Mr. Hyde, who has four different personas, each portrayed by a different actor.
Their production of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" also has several corresponding events planned to kick-off the season. Among the outings are an opening night celebration, a blood drive on Oct. 28 and a costume contest on Halloween.
The season continues with what Brant describes as a "Christmas Naughty or Nice" option for runs of "Santaland Diaries" and "Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!," Nov. 29 through Dec. 21. The rest of the season is comprised of "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" (Jan. 31-Feb. 15), "Play It Again, Sam" (April 4-19), "Rabbit Hole" (May 23-June 7) and "Romeo and Juliet" (July 11-26).
Unlike other community theaters in the area, the Chicago Street Theatre's 59th production slate is void of musical productions.
"We don't produce many musicals. I don't think that is one of our stronger points," Brant said.
"I think we do better with dramas and comedies, like Shakespeare. We try to tackle some edgier material. I think we take some risks that other groups don't want to take."
Even with the edgier look the theater prides itself on, Brant said he felt proud of the productions he has been involved with since he joined the theater when he was 17.
"Our mission is always to stay true to the art rather than look at 'name' productions to make money," Brant said.
"Our formula is that if we create good work, the audiences will come."
As a testament to the quality productions the Chicago Street Theatre offers, it recently received 22 nominations in the Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theatre Foundation.
"It's my favorite group of people to play with; as an actor, they make me better, as a director, they make me better," he said.
"I always feel that I learn every time I'm in a show down here. Outside of my immediate family, there is no other group of people I care more about than my family here at the theater. This is my family; these are my school chums; these are the people I want to perform with and want to do good for."
Brant said part of the draw to the Chicago Street Theatre is the intimate performances of the 130-seat theater.
"Theater is different than watching a movie," he said.
"If playing it right, it can touch you. Plus, anything can happen. Little mishaps; people forget lines or get cut by swords."