Theatre at the Center offers shows not available in Chicagoland

2014-04-02T20:55:00Z 2014-04-08T18:55:39Z Theatre at the Center offers shows not available in Chicagoland nwitimes.com
April 02, 2014 8:55 pm

This year, Theatre at the Center is having a season of premieres, featuring shows not seen before in the Chicagoland area.

One show, the Beverly Hillbillies, is making it’s world premiere. If it does well, it could be heading to Broadway, says Bridget Earnshaw, marketing coordinator for Theatre at the Center.

“If Beverly Hillbillies does well, it could go to New York and then possibly start traveling,” Earnshaw says. “This season is our season of premieres for shows in the Chicagoland area. We wanted to try something new and do things people hadn’t seen before.”

The Theatre’s production of Ring of Fire, featuring songs by Johnny Cash, did extremely well, she says.

“We want to compete with Chicago theaters and offer shows that are pretty new to the scene,” she says. “We wanted this season to have a creative, different spin.”

Next year, Earnshaw says the Theatre plans on focusing on more established, well-known shows as part of the 25th anniversary celebration.

There are four shows remaining this season. For tickets to any show, call the Theatre at the Center box office at (219) 836-3255.

A family comedy called Miracle on South Division Street runs May 1 through June 1. The show follows a Buffalo-based family who has been keeping a shrine to the Blessed Mother since Grandpa had a vision in his barber shop in 1942.

The Beverly Hillbillies makes its world premiere as a musical when it debuts July 10. The show, which follows the Clampett family made popular by the television series, runs through Aug. 10.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown runs Sept. 11 through Oct. 12. The Broadway musical adaptation of the Pedro Almodovar film has previously only been performed in America in New York City.

A Christmas Memory, a musical based on Truman Capote’s classic short story, will be performed Nov. 13 through Dec. 14.

For 25 years, the Center for Visual and Performing Arts has been the center of Munster’s artistic community.

The building, located on Ridge Road, was the brainchild of Donald Powers, who was then the president of the Community Hospital board. He saw the center as a way to improve the quality of life and strengthen the community as well as provide an artistic outlet, says Mylinda Cane, spokesperson for the Center for Visual and Performing Arts.

The Center, which houses South Shore Arts, Theatre at the Center, and the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, is overseen by the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana. The foundation also contributes financially to the CVPA.

“The foundation has been a big supporter of the CVPA since its inception,” Cane says.

Tentative plans call for a 25th anniversary celebration to be held in October, Cane says.

The three main organizations housed within the center focus on art, music and theater performance.

South Shore Arts, which has been showcasing artists for more than 70 years, hosts about two dozen exhibitions each year. The exhibitions showcase regional, national and international artists and cultures. In addition to the exhibitions, South Shore Arts also conducts hundreds of classes for all ages and in all media.

The South Shore Arts gift shop is the largest retailer of South Shore posters in the nation.

The Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra is the region’s most prominent classical music organization, featuring a full season of classical and pops concerts. It also sponsors a youth orchestra and a chorus with more than 100 members.

Theatre at the Center is a professional theatre that offers productions year round. The theatre, which seats about 400 people, performs Broadway favorites as well as premiering works that are new to the Chicagoland area. This season, it will include a world premiere of the Beverly Hillbillies show.

“The theater company and the symphony are opportunities for people who make their living in the arts have a chance to practice the arts,” she says.

The Center also has a banquet facility that offers Sunday brunch, and also hosts meetings, parties and innumerable weddings, Cane says.

“Nearly every weekend, we have things going on here,” she says.

Two new programs include Comedy Night, which offers a winter and fall series, and a Culinary Night, which will debut May 8.

The Culinary Night will feature executive chef Joe Trama, who will do a cooking demonstration showcasing the staff’s talents, as well as offer wine pairings.

An annual favorite event is the Family Arts Festival, which occurs every June.

The event includes a performance in the theater, as well as backstage tours and games. There also will be a chance for kids to try to play different musical instruments, and art classes offered by South Shore Arts.

“We started this as a way to celebrate the center turning 20 and honor the anniversary of the center, but we have been continuing it every year because it has proved to be a wonderful, free event,” Cane says. “Kids love it because it’s a very fun, interactive event. It’s a day to introduce kids to the arts and let them sample all of the arts organizations within the building.”

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