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Oak Park Cultural Sampling

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With its founding in 1959, the Village Players Theatre in Oak Park has remained the city’s longest running professional theater. As a member of both the League of Chicago Theatres and the West Suburban Theatre Connection, the Village Players features talented local performers in its diverse productions of improvisation, storytelling and contemporary plays, as well as affording a number of classes for adults and summer camps for children. The company is enjoying its newest venue, The Play Ground—a part of the vast Madison Street improvements.

The remainder of the 2007 season brings about Lisa Zane (September 14th through October 14th) and Ebenezer (December 7th through December 23rd). The upcoming 2008 season line-ups include Children of a Lesser God (February 1st through February 24th), You Never Can Tell (April 4th through April 27th) and The Full Monty (June 6th through July 13th). The recipient of the Best Comeback for an Arts Organization in 2004 by the Oak Park Area Arts Council, Village Players continues to dedicate itself to the spreading of the arts in Oak Park and its neighboring communities.

Stemming from an acting class at the Village Players Theatre, the Free Readers Ensemble performs for audiences in a readers theatre format every third Sunday each month at 3:00 p.m. at the main branch of the Oak Park Public Library. Previous readings include Dancing at Lughnasa, Steel Magnolias, Fried Green Tomatoes, Talley’s Folly and Over the River and Through the Woods.

The Oak Park community and its surrounding suburbs exude a rich cultural atmosphere, with several performing arts companies offering both adult and family-friendly productions, as well as beautifully choreographed dance performances.

The Oak Park Festival Theatre is moving into its 32nd consecutive year of classic productions in Oak Park. The professional theater company has produced a wealth of William Shakespeare’s renowned works, performed as the writer intended them to be—“as thrilling, living, popular theater, al fresco in pastoral Austin Gardens to augment the imagery and poetry of the Bard’s English language.”

Established in 1975, the theater has gradually diversified its production offerings, now producing many classics and other well-known pieces. Situated near the popular Frank Lloyd Wright district, the Oak Park Festival Theatre presents its productions outdoors in the summer months and indoors in spring. The year 2008 brings several esteemed productions – Blythe Spirit (located indoors at Pleasant Home from March through April), Dancing at Lughnasa (located outdoors in Austin Gardens from June through July) and Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (held outdoors in Austin Gardens from July through August).

The Open Door Repertory Company affords a diverse mix of adult and family production series’, with recent stagings of Bleacher Bums – Cross Town Classic!, Crowns, Daddy’s Home and Esperanza Rising. The company performs on its main stage at the Hatch Auditorium, as well as the Lincoln Auditorium.

In neighboring Forest Park, the Circle Theatre’s productions include drama, comedy, musicals and more contemporary pieces. The company was established in 1985 and has resided in its current location at 7300 West Madison since 1988. Fiddler on the Roof, Pippin, Cabaret, Pirates of Penzance, Little Shop of Horrors and Oliver are only a few of the productions Circle Theatre has brought to the stage since its founding.

theatre

Adding to the theatrical arts of the area is the premiere dance company Momenta. Momenta is comprised of two companies—the Senior Company, made up of experienced professionals, and the Junior Company, a group of developing young professionals. Though the company is based in Oak Park, it also performs other local venues, as well as venues statewide and internationally. Momenta’s repertoire includes the works of Doris Humphry, Ruth St. Denis, Eleanor King and a number of contemporary pieces. 

Oak Park Festival Theatre
(708) 445-4440
www.oakparkfestival.com

Village Players
(866) 764-1010
www.village-players.org

The Free Readers Ensemble
(Located at the Oak Park Public Library)
(708) 697-6915
www.freereaders.com

Open Door Repertory Company
(708) 802-1723
www.opendoor-community.com

Circle Theatre
(708) 771-0700
www.circle-theatre.org

Momenta Dance Company
(708) 848-2329
www.momenta-dance.org

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