Frank's Weekend Faves, Sept. 9, 2018

Frank's Weekend Faves, Sept. 9, 2018

I love to check out the creations of up and coming local artists, and this weekend offers a perfect opportunity when the Urbana Civic Center plays host to the fourth annual Urbana Art Expo, which this year runs for two days, Sept. 15-16.

The City of Urbana Public Arts Program, in collaboration with 40 North: Champaign County Arts Council, is organizing the juried fine arts exhibition and sale, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Urbana Civic Center, 108 E. Water St.

There will be plenty to feast your eyes upon as this year's expo features the work of 17 local artists: Bekki Canine, Carolina Rodriguez, Cindy Sampson, Drea Aarons, EKAH, Erica Rae Stark, Esther Roh, Fraya Replinger, Kelly Hieronymus, Kirsten Gilmore, Lynn Hawkinson Smith, Marc Anthony-Macon, Marie Casteel, Megan Hinds, Ralph Roether, Sekani Reed and Sierra Murphy.

The Urbana Art Expo is free and open to the public, and also features musical performances from DJ Silkee and the CU Jazz Collective. "The expo provides a unique showcasing of the diverse work of local artists, and we're proud to celebrate not one, but two full days this year," said Public Arts Coordinator Rachel Lauren Storm, "It's more than just an exhibition — it's an opportunity to appreciate the creative genius of our arts community."

For more information, contact Storm at (217) 328-8265 or via email at, or visit

Need a little local comedy in your life? Or at least a good belly laugh? Here's just the thing — Central Illinois Stage Company (CISCo) is presenting its first full-length comedy, "The Kitchen Witches," featuring an all-area cast this weekend at the Praise Assembly of God church in Charleston.

CISCo's production of "The Kitchen Witches" by Canadian playwright Caroline Smith will be presented Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 13-16, with performances scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and a matinee show at 2 p.m. next Sunday.

Tickets are available for $10 online at, and will also be sold at the door 30 minutes prior to curtain time. All performances will take place at Praise Assembly of God, 1300 Osage Road, Charleston.

Directed by Scott Brooks, the comedy tells the story of two rival cooking show hosts, Dolly Biddle (played by Rachel Z. Fisher of Champaign County) and Isobel Lomax (Ann Bruehler of Charleston), who are thrown together as co-hosts of a new show, called "The Kitchen Witches." The two have hated each other for 30 years, dating back to when they dated the same man, who wound up marrying Dolly. The couple's son, Stephen (played by Justin Janney of Casey) now finds himself in the middle as their new show's producer and resident peacemaker.

Expect a full menu of one-liners, plot twists and even some audience participation from this one.

Another area community theater group is girding up for an upcoming quest through Middle-Earth which I heartily endorse, and they're inviting everyone to try out for a spot in the fellowship — er, I mean, the cast. That's right! You, too, could be a lucky hobbit!

The Homer Opera House will be holding auditions for its production of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy "The Fellowship of the Ring" from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Sept 17-18, upstairs in the opera house's Grand Stage. A

ll ages are invited and needed, but especially young ones to play halflings. No advance preparation needed, but furry feet are undoubtedly welcome.

If you're in the mood to make some music the good, old-fashioned acoustic way, head down to the Vault Art Gallery in Tuscola for a bluegrass jam session on Saturday.

Bring your acoustic instrument and your finger-picking skills to the place that won third in this year's News-Gazette Media People's Choice awards — Vault Art Gallery at 100 N. Main St., Tuscola — from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15. All pickers are welcome!

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but that's all that I have this week for local fans of hip hop and electronic dance music. Prime Music Festival Urbana, scheduled for this Friday at the Champaign County Fairgrounds, has been called off.

Sounded like it would have been a blast, too, with a lineup of scheduled performers that included Russ, 3LAU, Matoma, Lil Skies, Smokepurpp, Elephante, Diplo, So Down and The Harley Boys.

Unfortunately, it appears it was the festival's main attraction — hip-hop headliner Russ — that also did it in. Publicist Chris Sampen tells me that Russ cancelled, "and the rest fell through." Too soon to say if the festival's organizers will reschedule or when, but stay tuned. Anything is possible ...

If you're out and about today and feel the call of the Orient drawing you in the direction of the University of Illinois campus, don't resist. It's just the fourth annual Japan House Matsuri Festival going on from 2 to 9 p.m. in and around Japan House and the Arboretum.

The Matsuri Festival at 2000 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana, is a family-friendly event featuring a variety of entertainment including martial arts demonstrations, musical performances by Japanese all-female rock bands the 5, 6, 7, 8's and Shonen Knife, local craft vendors, Asian-inspired food and drink, children's activities, as well as the crowd favorite Masaji Terasawa, "Candy Man", a Japanese street performer whose amezaiku creations are true works of art.

Admission to the festival and all performances is free, and tickets for food and activities are a budget-friendly $1 each.

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