That's entertainment: Spotlighting events throughout the area

That's entertainment: Spotlighting events throughout the area

Here's what's happening in the area's ...


Organist will accompany film

The Champaign Park District will host acclaimed theater organist Mark Gifford (above) to accompany the Buster Keaton silent film classic "The General" at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign.

Gifford will accompany the 67-minute feature on the theater's fully restored 750-pipe Wurlitzer organ, performing his own score.

He has performed on the Barton Theatre Pipe Organ in Springfield High School since 1993. He also is one of the organists at the Lincoln Theatre in Belleville and the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, where he plays the lobby organ. He recorded a Christmas album on the Lincoln Theatre Pipe Organ titled "Pipe In a Swingin' Christmas," released in 1998.

The theater doors will open one hour before each screening. Tickets are $6 for general admission and available at the box office, via or by phone at 217-356-9063. This event is part of The News-Gazette Film Series.

Fundraiser at Cowboy Monkey

Midcoast Artist Management and Cowboy Monkey will present at 7 p.m. Saturday A Fundraiser for MusiCares in Memory of Paul Sabuco and Greg Hill.

The doors will open at 6 p.m. for the event at Cowboy Monkey, 6 Taylor St., C. It will feature Gloria Roubal; Kathy Harden; Jim Bean; Chris Courtney and Dawna Nelson; Honey Tap; and Tons O' Fun Band with vocalist Terry Luttrell, as well as Pauli Carman, a Grammy nominee, multi-platinum recording artist and lead vocalist of the band Champaign.

Admission is by donation.

Mr. Sabuco, 57, a rock musician who lived in Rantoul, died Jan. 24. He was a fixture on the local music scene, having played with The Mystery Dots, Nix 86, Gator Alley and The Boyds, and most recently in an acoustic duo with Gloria Roubal.

Greg "Stokes" Hill died Feb. 15. He also was a fixture on the local scene but in a different way. He was beloved by local musicians, always in the audience at the Red Lion during its heyday and had worked the door at Mabel's, another Campustown nightclub.

MusiCares, headed by Tom Petty, is a national organization that helps out musicians in need. The proceeds from the concert will go to MusiCares in memory of Mr. Sabuco and Mr. Hill.

Charlie King coming to town

Musical storyteller and political satirist Charlie King will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, 202 S. Broadway, U.

King has been at the heart of the American folk music scene for half a century and has been writing songs for the past 40 years. He is currently touring with his latest recording, "Life & Love, Tears & Laughter," released in February.

Honors given him include: an "Indie" award for one of the top three folk recordings of 1984; the War Resisters League's 1998 Peacemaker Award given to King as well as Odetta; the 1999 Sacco-Vanzetti Social Justice Award for which he was nominated by Pete Seeger; and the 2009 International Labor Communications Association award for Best Labor History Story.

His songs have been covered other performers such as Seeger, Holly Near, Ronnie Gilbert, John McCutcheon, Arlo Guthrie, Peggy Seeger, Chad Mitchell and Judy Small. Pete Seeger once hailed King as "one of the finest singers and songwriters of our time." "I try to cover a broad emotional landscape in my concerts," King said. "The stories I collect and the songs I write take the listener on a journey of humor, heartache and hope. What I most value in a song is the way it helps us see an old reality in a totally new light."

Admission at the door is $15 for adults and $10 for students.

Mother Nature will perform

The U-C Independent Media Center will present from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday a concert featuring Mother Nature, C-U's premier female hip-hop duo.

The event also will showcase youth artists, among them Lateef Bridgewater and Jamie Gatson, participating in Open Scene, a National Endowment for the Arts-funded program and collaboration between the IMC and city of Urbana.

Mother Nature will host a series of workshops that weekend as part of Open Scene, a youth media arts project which received a $50,000 grant from the NEA. Mother Nature's workshop will focus on the movement of knowledge through the four elements of hip-hop. The participants will develop meaningful projects with another person or group. The project might be a song, a verse or a poem; a collage or painting; a dance; an instrumental; or a story.

The concert Friday is free and open to the public. Also open to the public is a hip-hop showcase and community discussion from 2 to 4 p.m. next Sunday.

The final Open Scene workshop with Hill L. Waters will be in mid-April. Waters' project is a collaboration among Durell M. Callier, Lisa Fay and Dominique C. Hill. They will lead a workshop for developing short theater pieces.

Twelve community stakeholders and 12 youths take part in the Open Scene series of workshops and discussions to develop issues related to livability and placemaking in downtown Urbana. For more information, contact Blair Ebony Smith at 217-344-8820 or

Local club hosting Owen Stevenson

Singer/songwriter Owen Stevenson and his band will perform Friday in Champaign and also make a TV talk show appearance.

They will be on WCIA Channel 3 "ciLiving" at 4 p.m. Friday. Then the Chicago-based band will perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Exile on Main Street, 100 N. Chester St., C.

The band will play at both venues as a trio and will include drummer David Brandwein, a 2011 University of Illinois graduate from Champaign in jazz studies. While here, Brandwein played in jazz combos, big bands and with the vocal jazz ensemble at Illinois at Krannert Center, The Iron Post and other venues.

Stevenson performed in the ensemble Straight No Chaser while attending Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, where he earned a degree in vocal performance and theater. He also sang with The Singing Hoosiers and Children's Chorus of Washington, among others. He keeps up with the a cappella world by directing a Chicago group called Vocal CHAOS. He also teaches guitar, bass, piano, voice and ukulele at Rock House Glenview.


The healing powers of nature

The New York-based En Garde Arts will present "Wilderness" at 7:30 p.m. March 28 in Krannert Center's Colwell Playhouse.

The multimedia piece features live performance, documentary interviews, projection design and an original acoustic score to tell stories of parents and young adults in crisis who turn to the healing powers of nature.

Charles Isherwood, former theater critic for The New York Times, called "Wilderness" a "terrific, moving new multimedia theater piece about troubled youth.

"The title refers to a program for psychologically disturbed teenagers and young adults that gathers them in the outdoors for days or weeks of group therapeutic treatment," Isherwood wrote. "But it also speaks to the idea that in contemporary culture, with its often fragmented families and onslaught of social media, kids today are navigating their way to adulthood in a world in which the old signposts have all but been obliterated, and the path has grown thick with thorny emotional underbrush. The result: anxiety, sadness, self-doubt, addiction and various other hard-to-vanquish demons."

As with "Basetrack Live" from Anne Hamburger's En Garde, which was presented two years ago at Krannert Center, "Wilderness" draws on interviews with real people. It was written by Seth Bockley and Hamburger and directed by Bockley. It also incorporates Skype interviews with parents.

"Onstage are six actors portraying young men and women with various problems, gathered together, mostly amicably, at an outdoor camp in the mountains of Utah," Isherwood wrote. "The actors who play them also portray the therapists and counselors — or 'field staff' as they are referred to in the program."

"Wilderness" features musical interludes and choreography but is "at its eloquent best when it is simplest, when the characters and their parents discuss their lives, in unadorned language, with an honesty that is deeply affecting," Isherwood wrote.

The folk-rock score was created by Kyle Henderson and his band, Desert Noises; Kyle Miller with his band Towr's; and Gregory Alan Isakov.

"Wilderness" will be presented in Krannert's Colwell Playhouse. Tickets are $29 for adults; $24, senior citizens 65 and older and retired UI faculty and staff; $15, non-UI college students; and $10, UI students and youths. Call 333-6280.

In search of 'Billy Elliot'

Twin City Squared, also known as Twin City Theatre Company, seeks a boy age 11 to 16 to portray the title character in "Billy Elliot the Musical."

The young actor will need to sing, act and dance tap and ballet. Even boys who do not have those skills may enter the audition fray by attending the Twin City Squared and Art in Motion "Camp Billy" on March 28-29 and April 4-5 at Art in Motion, 4010 Colleen Drive, C.

The boys will receive eight hours of dance instruction covering basic tap and ballet to prepare them for the auditions. If they have prior dance experience, Camp Billy will help them hone their skills and might provide advanced instruction as well.

Attending Camp Billy will not guarantee a spot in the show but could give a boy an edge. Rehearsals will start in early July, and the show will be presented August 25-27 and 31 and Sept. 1-3 at the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre at Parkland College.

The registration for Camp Billy is $10. Sign up at For more information, contact Mike Galloway at or 217-353-5282.

Country Theatre Workshop auditions

Country Theatre Workshop will have auditions April 1-2 for its 2017 summer season:

— 9 a.m. April 1 or 1 p.m. April 2 for "Pump Boys & Dinettes"

— 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. April 1, "Wizard of Oz"

— Noon April 1 and noon April 2, "Moon over Buffalo"

Callbacks for "Wizard of Oz" will be at 3 p.m. April 2. The auditions will be at the Country Theatre Workshop Theater, 1280 East 770N Road, Cissna Park. For more information, go to

Red Mask looking for directors

Red Mask Players in Danville seeks directors for its 81st season, which will feature: "All Because of Agatha," a comedy by Jonathan Troy; "Anne of Green Gables," a comedy by Alice Chadwicke, adapted from L.M. Montgomery's novel; and "Rabbit Hole," a drama by David Lindsay-Abaire.

The deadline to apply is April 1. Applicants must download application forms from and complete them, describing their production plans. The applications should be mailed to: Red Mask Players, P.O. Box 814, Danville, IL 61834-0814. Please do not email applications. Scripts for the forthcoming season are available for in-library reading at the Danville Public Library.

The applicants will be interviewed by the board this summer. For more information, contact


Photographers showing works

The Art Gallery of the Old Courthouse Museum in Watseka is showing this month and through April photographs by Dennis Swan of Villa Grove and Terry Seaman of Champaign. Seaman also is showing his collection of cameras and equipment.

Seaman has taken photographs for 58 years, worked in the camera department of several retail stores in the Champaign area and then purchased his own camera store. In 2000, he went to work in a photo lab, processing film and printing photographs.

"I really enjoyed this and had a great sense of accomplishment, a feeling of gratification in my work," he said. "It was the best job ever, for me. Essentially, working in the photo industry all those years was my photographic education. I learned many behind-the-scenes techniques and worked with varied equipment.

"I worked at the lab as digital appeared in the pro market and then the amateur market. Digital photography really released me from the limitations of film. The improvements in software and camera resolution have made the photography I like to do possible."

Now retired, Seaman takes photographs of his family, bridges, trains, airplanes, scenery and buildings.

Swan, a son of museum and Iroquois County Historical Society supporter Jack Swan, has taken photographs of lighthouses in the Great Lakes area and in Florida Everglades.

"Jill and I have been to over 100 of the Great Lakes lighthouses," he said. "Many times we chartered boats to get out to the lighthouses on many of the islands. In January, we took a trip through the Florida Everglades where we had the opportunity with a guide to do a photo walk into the waters of the Everglades. Yes, we were constantly watching for gators and snakes."

The Old Courthouse Museum is at 103 W. Cherry St., Watseka, and open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. the first Sunday of each month. For more, call 815-432-2215 during regular business hours.


'Civil War Saturday' in Springfield

The Old State Capitol in Springfield will take visitors back on Saturday to the battle that dealt the Confederacy a huge loss and put Ulysses S. Grant on the road to commanding the entire Union Army.

In a free "Civil War Saturday" event, the Old Capitol State Historic Site staff will explain the battle and its significance. The presentation begins at 2 p.m.

When Grant captured Fort Donelson in northwestern Tenn., he took 13,500 Rebel prisoners — the largest surrender to an American officer to that point. The victory ensured that Kentucky would stay in the Union and opened the way for a Union advance into Tennessee.

It also led to a new nickname for the unproven general: "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.

He earned a promotion and a reputation for toughness.

The Old State Capitol is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments