“Try to remember the kind of September when life was slow, and oh, so mellow … ” ~ from the song “Try to Remember,” by Harvey Schmidt/Tom Jones
September is not very mellow for the arts community in Jacksonville. It is the time of new beginnings, fresh starts and new seasons. Susan Weller of the Jacksonville Center Of The Arts, still riding high after receiving their 99-year lease from the City of Jacksonville for a lot in which to begin the process of building their CFA (Center for the Arts), brought together all the arts organizations at City Hall to announce their 2015/2016 seasons to one another and the press organizations in the area. In honor of these announcements, I’m dedicating the September edition of my fine arts article to a fall preview of some of these exciting events to be appearing in Jacksonville in the upcoming months.
The Art Association of Jacksonville at the David Strawn Art Gallery is bringing the fall to life with paintings, photography, jewelry, pastels, photography and new art media. September 12-27, they will exhibit Nelli Knopf’s paintings. October 3-25, Jerry Lee Ingram will showcase his world renowned photography. November 7-29, Thomas Suter jewelry and Barry Reithmeier’s new art media will appear. Closing out the first half of their season, in December Hugh Henderson will show his pottery and Colleen Ferratier will bring out her paintings and pastels. The public is invited to opening receptions held each first Saturday of the exhibit from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the gallery. Receptions will feature refreshments, live music, and a gallery talk by the artist at 6:30 p.m. The gallery will be open to the public Tuesdays – Fridays from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. In addition to the monthly highlighted exhibits, there are permanent displays: Mississippian pottery, the Miriam Cowgur Allen doll collection, the Charles Prentice Greco-Roman art collection, the outdoor sculpture garden and the Art Association’s collection of prints and lithography. For more info, contact the gallery at 217-243-9390 or via their website, www.strawnartgallery.org, or Facebook page.
The Jacksonville Theatre Guild (JTG) is starting their fall off with the raucous and riotous comedy, “The Complete History of America” (abridged), by Adam Long and Reed Martin. It has been said that his play is, 600 years of history in 6000 seconds … history will never be the same! The show takes the audience from Washington to Watergate, the Bering Straits to Baghdad and from the New World to New World Order.” The ninety-minute comedy, directed by Carly Holmes, has only 3 actors portraying every historic character in our history books: Drew Stroud, Lucas Chamberlain and Nick Hummowun. It will perform Sept 26 and Oct 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept 27 and Oct 4 at their new matinee time of 4 p.m. On October 17, JTG will host its first-ever golf tournament. Tee time is 8 a.m. and the cost is $50 per person for a foursome. For more information or to register, contact Katie McDannald at 217-371-1600 or the Links at 217-479-4663. October 24th, JTG will get into the Halloween spirit when their costume department hosts a “Halloween Costume Spooktacular.” Folks are invited to come and search the “spooky” upper floors of their historic funeral home space to find “that perfect costume for all of your haunting events!” A nominal fee will be charged for rental of costumes. November will bring the comedy, “A Hillbilly Weddin’” to the studio theatre at their office. John Steckel will direct a multi-generational cast in this rip-roarin’ spoof of a hillbilly Pa Belsnickle who decides to literally marry his six daughters off with a shotgun wedding. Performances will be November 13-14 and 20-22. JTG is also excited to announce the beginnings of a new improve troupe directed by Carly Holmes. For more information about this and any of the above events, contact them at 217-245-1402, jaxtg.weebly.com or their Facebook page.
Clare Lynd-Porter was excited to announce a full roster of events coming this fall to the Imagine Foundation. September 17, Oct and October 15, from 5-6 p.m., the Asa Talcott house will host its Kid’s Art Club. Cost is $2 per child. September 16 will be their first ever “live model night” at the Soap Co. Coffee House (with a repeat offering Oct. 21) from 7-9 p.m. This won’t be your usual modeling even, either. Imagine will highlight specialty models each event. Sometimes the model might be a ballerina, or a space monster, or an astronaut … something original and creative. The medium is open to all, as well: painters, sketchers, photographers or even just the curious who’d like to observe. Admission for artists is $10 ($5 for students of all ages), or $5 for people who just want to watch the process. Sept. 24, from 4-7 p.m., Imagine will host a “Back to School Bash” with special guests … our area teachers! There will be door prizes for teachers and staff, food, drink and a silent art auction. Families are welcome. October 31 will be Imagine’s first Halloween progressive party starting at 6:30 p.m. This will be a four course buffet at four different settings! Wear your costume and enter a special art raffle! $25 per person. Lynd-Porter also announced an upcoming dream project that I will highlight in a future edition of my column. It involves Shakespeare, “2 Gents” and hip-hop. For more info, contact Clare Lynd-Porter at the Imagine Foundation via Facebook, email@example.com, 217-473-2726 or at www.imaginearts.org.
Illinois College TheatreWorks is doing a FIRST by bringing one of William Shakespeare’s histories to its stage, “Richard III.” Directed by Nancy Taylor Porter, Richard III is Shakespeare’s first villain, and he invites the audience into his confidence as he strives to become the most powerful man in England. The final work in a series chronicling his country’s medieval civil war, this play depicts a cripple in a world not only corrupt and power-hungry but also believing his outward deformity exposes a monstrous inner nature. Belief becomes destiny as he determines to brazenly seize the crown, a hypocrite hacking his way through anyone in his path, guilty and innocent alike. But the conscience he initially mocks erupts on the night before his final battle to haunt him through the ghosts of those he’s killed. Richard finally begins to come to grips with his own heart of darkness as Providence empowers a warrior to overcome his brutal reign at last. Set in contemporary times, the play reveals the seduction and tyranny of political violence that sows the seeds of its perpetrators’ destruction. Auditions for this drama are open to the public; however, college students will have “priority” casting. Porter told me, “If you are a man, come prepared to tell story in 1-2 minutes or less about when you wanted to tell someone off couldn’t because they had too much power over you. If you are a woman, tell a story about when you actually told someone off or what you would’ve said if you could have.” Also be prepared to recite a Shakespearean monologue (also in 1-2 minutes). Theatre majors will need to have the lines memorized, but others can use their scripts. You can choose your own monologue or use one of the ones posted on the callboard next to the box office in the lobby of Sibert Theatre. Soon we will be posting a cast list and character descriptions, and a copy of the script will be on reserve in the library. Auditions will be Tuesday and Wednesday, September 8 and 9 from 7-9 p.m. You can sign up in pairs for a 15-minute spot on the call board. Callbacks will be Saturday, September 12, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Please arrive outside the theatre 5 minutes early to fill out an audition form. Bring your calendar with you and fill out all conflicts on your audition form. Performances for “Richard III” are Friday, October 30, and Thursday-Sunday, November 5-8. For more information contact the director, Nancy Taylor Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) Theatre Program, under the direction of Ken Bradbury, announced that their 2015/2016 season would consist of 4 productions this year. First off, it’s the return of the Travelling Children’s Theatre in which the students/actors go to 16 schools in just 4 days and perform a show for the elementary students in our area. This year’s theme is Superheroes! In December, the class will be performing a Christmas downtown project that he is still writing. This will be performed at Playhouse On The Square again, this year. Be looking for an announcement in the spring for his which will be a travelling play where the actors are stationary, but the audience will travel from one of Jacksonville’s historic site to another. LLCC has a dual credit option for high school students who can garner both credits in high school and college when they take the course!
Garrett Allman announced the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and Chorale season. On October 3, they will open their 53rd season by welcoming two virtuoso soloists who have connections to Jacksonville. Percussionist Luke Rinderknech and euphoniumist Gabriel Hart will perform works by Paul Creston and Alexandre Guilmant. October 31, the symphony brings back its popular Halloween concert, “Creepy Connections.” Musicians and audience alike are invited to come in their Halloween finest! December 5 is the annual family Christmas concert where the orchestra, Chorale and the Jacksonville High School Concert Choir combine to bring the entire family an afternoon of holiday celebration. Regular season performances are held at Rammelkamp Chapel on the IC campus on Saturday evenings and begin at 7:30 p.m. (3 p.m. for the Christmas concert). There will be a pre-concert talk called “Before the Baton” at 7 p.m. planned for children, but all ages are welcome to attend.
Terri Benz announced that Pine Tree Studios, where she and Mike Anderson teach private music lessons, would be opening up the studio with some new programming and workshops. I hope to bring you more information on these exciting opportunities and offerings in a future column. She also announced the September Song Fine Arts Festival that Centenary United Methodist Church will be hosting for its second year. It is held every Sunday in September on their lawn, south of the church at 331 State Street from 4-6 p.m. and is free of charge. They have already begun their series last week with the Great Rivers Fife and Drum, but on September 13, Two By Two will be performing. September 20 brings the talents of the popular group, Tapestry. The September Song Festival will close out on the 27th with local talent, Mike Anderson.
Garrett Allman came back to announce the McGaw Fine Arts Series, whose theme this year is: Made In America. To start off the season, The American Brass Quintet (which is internationally recognized as one of the premier chamber music ensembles of our time and celebrated for peerless leadership in the brass world) will perform on September 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Rammelkamp Chapel. Saturday, October 17, also at 7:30 p.m. in Rammelkamp, the Khasma Duo will perform. Formed in 2012 by Ashlee Mack and Katherine Palumbo, the Khasma Duo is dedicated to the performing dynamic dual piano works from the 20th and 21st centuries. Closing out the first half of their season on November 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Sibert Theatre will be one-acts by Ken Bradbury of Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln, featuring Pam Brown and Fritz Klein. Two of the nation’s most well-known interpreters of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln will appear together in one-act plays by Ken Bradbury. Pam Brown will perform her one woman show, “Now and Forever,” which was commissioned by the State of Illinois and has played for four years at Springfield’s Old State Capitol, and Fritz Klein will present “The Last Final Measure,” originally performed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum and also on NPR radio. Brown and Klein have often appeared together, but the Illinois College Fine Arts Series will be the first time they have performed these plays in a single evening. Season tickets are $60 each, one adult admission is $15 and students are free. Starting in January, season tickets may also be purchased for $45. This will include all performances remaining in the season. To order season tickets, please print a ticket order form and mail to: Illinois College Fine Arts Series/ Office of Development and Alumni Relations/ 1101 West College Avenue/ Jacksonville, Illinois 62650. Please make checks payable to the Illinois College Fine Arts Series. For additional information, please contact the Illinois College Office of Advancement at 217.245.3069 or email@example.com.
Finally, Playhouse On The Square (POTS) is going full steam ahead with a wide variety of classics, children’s pieces, comedies and a revisit to classic radio storytelling. Dr. Robert Seufert is bringing Dylan Thomas’ comic play, “Under Milk Wood” as a “play for voices” on Sept 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and September 20 at 2 p.m. It recounts a day in the life of a small Welsh fishing village and includes a host of eccentric characters engaged in hilarious and sometimes touching monologues and dialog of great poetic beauty, which makes this a Thomas masterpiece. Actors include: Alice Webster, Andrew Holtschalg, Beth Fender, Brad Besson, Donna and Allen Stare, Jodi Heitbrink, Gene Hinckley, Julie Krol, Laura Maruna, Nicholas Hester, Sean McCord, Zuzana Killam and Dr. Seufert. Ken Bradbury is weaving his comic genius with another brand new musical called “Pearl’s Place.” The cast includes: Sylvia Burke, Sherri Mitchell, Carrie Carls, Stephanie Soltermann and Hope Cherry. Performances are Oct. 2-4 and 9-11. Then during Oct 16-18, for one weekend only, Playhouse brings back the beloved radio characters of “The Battling Bickersons,” starring Rich and Laurie McCoy and directed by Sean-Edward Hall. Laurie McCoy and Kim Shafer are bringing two children’s plays to the Playhouse: “The Orphan Train” (Oct 22-25), and “A Christmas Carol”(Dec 3-6). In November, after much demand, Playhouse is bringing back the hilarious cast of characters from Tuna, Texas, for “A Tuna Christmas,” starring Darrin Harms and Rich McCoy (Nov 21-23 and 29-30). All tickets for POTS can be purchased in advance at Our Town Books or The Soap Co. Coffee House or by calling 217-491-3977.