That's Entertainment: Spotlighting events in and around the area


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Music scene

C4A expanding

The non-profit Community Center for the Arts in downtown Urbana is expanding, taking over the space formerly occupied by Corson's Guitar Store at Main and Race.

Musician Robin Kearton, who co-founded C4A with musician/ethnomusicologist Tom Faux, said the school has removed the retail cabinets in the space that was occupied by Corson's and installed hardwood floors.

"We're still painting and putting final decorating touches in place," she said. "This fantastic new space will provide a home for our larger ensembles and will double as an intimate performance venue."

C4A is considering renting the performance space to others.

Corson's will continue to sell music accessories from the Urbana location and Corson's Music Store, 71 E. University Ave., C.

In other C4A news, the school — it has 350 students passing through each week, according to Faux — "adopted" the group formerly called the Parkland In Your Ear Band, directed by Shab Wirtel. It will reconvene starting in September under the name C4A Big Band, with Wirtel directing.

Parkland College eliminated the In Your Ear and other community bands a couple of years ago.

"Same great band of professional players, same great tunes," Kearton said of the new C4A Big Band. "Once we were sure our expansion plans were secure, we realized that we had the resources to offer Shab and his band a home. We are proud to have a hand in facilitating this important local music tradition."

Bassist Josh Houchin, who plays with many local bands, will continue to lead C4A's Jazz Ensemble, which focuses on learning standard tunes and improvisation.

Kearton said C4A also will add "cutting-edge performance art workshops.

"Our summer camps for flow arts and circus skills have been so popular that we are going to offer a year-round session called 'Spin, Juggle, & Flow,'" she said. "Michael and Satina Braswell have a vision of creating a vibrant flow arts scene in C-U, and C4A supports the potential to bring a new segment of people together to participate in a group performance-art experience."

C4A also will offer new classes and ensembles. Some highlights:

— Longtime University High School music teacher Rick Murphy will direct the new C4A Chorus. No singing experience is required to join the chorus. Murphy's only stipulation was that the chorus be open to a broad age range so "there is potential for kids to sing in a chorus with their grandparents," Kearton said.

— A fiddler who also plays classical viola, Kearton will teach a new ensemble called Olde Music: Renaissance & Baroque Ensemble, for teens and adults with a wide range of playing experience. "The focus will be on having fun playing and learning about performance practice," she said. "Modern instruments will certainly be welcome."

— Guitarist Steve Meadows of The Prairie Dogs will lead a new kids' ensemble called Sing-Along. The group will learn to play in a band so everyone knows what it's like to be in the rhythm section and receive instruction on singing lead or backup parts, Kearton said.

— Wirtel, a retired University of Illinois music professor, will teach a class called Music Theory for Practical People. "I am confident that, with his diverse background ranging from university composition professor to in-the-moment improvisational performer, this will be a killer course," Kearton said.

C4A also will present its Race Street Bash on May 22, 2016, and repeat its 48-Hour Jam on June 10-12, 2016. For more go to or call 384-5150.

Philo performances

Marvin Lee's Country Show at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Philo Park will feature Ed Clem of Homer and Logan Kirby of Fairmount, along with a other performers.

Clem leads the Philo Country Opry in the winter months and will join the Marvin Lee Country Show in the park, where Philo firefighters will sell pork-chop sandwiches and the Sidney Dairy Barn's Moo Mobile will sell ice cream.

Lee also will present Gospel Music Night at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8 in Philo Park. Again, the firefighters and Moo Mobile will be there.

Proceeds from Gospel Music Night at Philo Park will go to Salt and Light of Champaign.

Lee's Country Opry will at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 in a different place: the community center in Melvin. The special guest will be Nate Urban of Hayworth.

Taste of Ireland

The band We Banjo 3 will perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday at The Upper Bout, 723 S. Neil St., C. The band members — Enda and Fergal Scahill and Martin and David Howley — are among the most celebrated and distinguished young musicians in Ireland today.

We Banjo 3 features the banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vocals and percussion and has been at the forefront of Irish banjo and fiddle music for two decades. Martin Howley holds seven "All Ireland" titles, and Enda Fergal has four. Fergal Scahill and David Howley won All Ireland titles on banjo, fiddle, bodhran and guitar.

Enda has recorded and performed with The Chieftains, Frankie Gavin, Stockton's Wing, Grammy-winner Ricky Skaggs and "Instrumental Band of the Decade," The Brock McGuire Band.

Fergal has performed with David Munnelly, Martin O'Connor and Kevin Crawford and has toured the world with Ragus and Celtic Legends. Martin was the first Irish banjo player to perform at the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and students. The concert is presented by the Piper's Hut Concert Series.

Theater scene

New Celebration season

Once again, the Celebration Theatre Company at the Station Theatre in Urbana will present a slate of contemporary plays as well as a few classics in its 44th season, which opens Oct. 1 with "The Open House" by Will Eno.

Running through Oct. 17, the play, directed by Debbie Richardson, is described as a family play. It won the 2014 Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding play, the 2014 Obie Award for playwriting for Eno and the 2014 Drama Desk Special Award.

The rest of the season:

— "Mine," by Laura Marks, Oct. 29-Nov. 14, directed by Thom Schnarre. Synopsis: As a first-time mother about to have a home birth, Mari is certain of one thing: she can't wait to hold her baby. The next morning, she is certain of something else: The baby in her arms is not her baby. The one-act thrillerexplores an unseen world where doubt and certainty blur and madness and reality are a breath apart.

— "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" by Paul Zindel, Dec. 3-19, directed by Latrelle Bright. Winner of the 1971 Pulitzer Prize, the Obie Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as best American play of the season, the play is a study of an embittered, vindictive widow and her two young daughters.

— "American Wee-Pie," by Lisa Dillman, Jan. 21-Feb. 6, directed by Jaclyn Loewenstein. A middle-aged textbook editor returns to his Midwestern hometown for his mother's funeral only to stumble upon a vivacious former classmate who leads him on a life-changing journey. The comedy by the Chicago-based Dillman explores the economic recession, second-act careers and the transformative power ofcupcakes.

— "She Kills Monsters" by Qui Nguyen, Feb. 18-March 5, directed by Mikel Matthews. A comedic romp into the world of fantasy role-playing games,"She Kills Monsters"tells the story of Agnes Evans as she leaves her childhood home in Ohio following the death of her teenage sister, Tilly. When Agnes finds Tilly's Dungeons & Dragons notebook, she stumbles into an action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was Tilly's refuge.

— "Constellations," by Nick Payne, March 24-April 9, directed by Kay Bohannon Holley. After meeting at a party, Marianne and Roland go for a drink, or perhaps they don't. They fall madly in love and start dating, but eventually break up. After a chance encounter in a supermarket, they get back together, or maybe they run into each other, and Marianne reveals that she's now engaged to someone else and that's that. Or perhaps Roland is engaged. Maybe they get married, or maybe their time together will be short.The play explores free will and friendship — and quantum multiverse theory, love and honey.

— "The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord," by Scott Carter, April 21-May 7, directed by Gary Ambler. The "whip-smart" comedy brings together Jefferson, Dickens and Tolstoy in a blistering battle of witsto examine what happens when great men of history are forced to repeat it.

For tickets, call 384-4000 or visit All shows are at 8 p.m.

Check out 'Suitehearts'

The Country Theater Workshop will present the comedy "Suitehearts" this coming and next weekend.

The theater company gives this synopsis: "Hilarity ensues when an out-of-town couple, hoping to fulfill a weekend of bliss, arrives at a posh New York hotel to find their dream suite is already filled with strangers. After a scuffle over the accommodations, no one is where or with whom they should be."

The shows will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sept. 10, 11 and 12 and 2 p.m. next Sunday and Sept. 13. For tickets, call the box office at 815-457-2626 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. If special seating is needed, mention when ordering tickets. All performances will be at the Country Theatre Workshop 2 miles north of Cissna Park on Illinois 49.

'Harvey' auditions

The Monticello Theatre Association will have open auditions from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. next Sunday for the play "Harvey." More auditions will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Phoenix Theater, 1406 N. Market St.

People not available for either date may contact the director at

"Harvey" will be presented Nov. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22.

Dance scene

Flatlands is back

The Flatlands Dance Film Festival will return to the Art Theater Co-op in Champaign for its second season. The first film will be shown Tuesday.

The lineup includes the break-dancing documentary "Shake the Dust," guest speaker and award-winning dance filmmaker Charli Brissey and dance-film competition submissions from around the globe. The schedule:

— Tuesday. The festival opens with the recently release, "Shake the Dust" by executive producer and rapper Nasir "Nas" Jones and journalist-turned-filmmaker Adam Sjberg. The documentary explores the influence of breakdancing in war-torn towns. The screening marks the movie's Midwest premiere.

— Sept. 8: Co-curated by Rebecca Ferrell, director of the festival, and Abby Zbikowski, an assistant professor of dance at the UI, the program will feature short dance-based films. Brissey, who has two films in the program, will lead a talkback session after the program.

— Sept. 15: Following the inaugural festival last year, word spread throughout the dance and film communities about the competition portion of the Flatlands Dance Film Festival. Interest soared this year.

Films from 13 countries were evaluated. The selected films will be presented, and a grand prizewinner will be announced.

Festival passes are $25 for students and $40, adults. Single-screening tickets are $10 and $15, respectively. Tickets for individual screenings may be purchased at the Art Theater Co-op.

For more information and to purchase festival passes, visit or contact Ferrell at or 300-1193.

'Nutcracker' tryouts

The Champaign Urbana Ballet will have auditions Sept. 12 for its 2015 production of "The Nutcracker" at the Champaign Ballet Academy, 2810 W. Clark Road, C.

Previous dance training is not required to audition, but children must have been born before Sept. 12, 2010, to audition. Participants are asked to pre-register for the audition at by 5 p.m. Sept. 8.

Experienced dancers 10 to 25 interested in auditioning for "The Nutcracker" are asked to contact CU Ballet Executive Director Kay Greene at Information about the audition process, attire, fees and rehearsal schedule is available at Questions may be directed to 355-7317 or

For over a decade, CU Ballet has performed "The Nutcracker" at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. This year the holiday tradition continues with six performances from Dec. 3-6.

Arts scene

Figure drawing workshop

Kari Rajkumar, an award-winning portrait artist from Paris, will offer an introductory workshop in figure drawing from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 12 at The Vault Arts Collective, 100 N. Main St., Tuscola.

Rajkumar's work has received top honors at numerous regional, national and international competitions and has been featured in the Artist's Magazine, Southwest Art Magazine and the Pastel Journal.

Her workshop will show how to accurately portray the basic proportions of the entire human male and female figure. Students will learn about gravity lines and action lines to add life and movement to their sketches. A closer look at the larger muscle masses and key skeletal-structure elements will be included, along with tips on drawing those clothing wrinkles.

The class is open to students ages 14 to adult. Space is limited; call 463-2697 to reserve a seat. For more information, visit the News Page at

ACE nominations

Nominations for the ACE Awards will be taken through Sept. 10 by the 40 North 88 West Champaign County arts council.

Individuals, groups or organizations who are dedicated to the arts and enrich the community's culture may be nominated in seven categories: teacher, student, advocate, artist, volunteer, business and lifetime.

The awards will be handed out Oct. 9 at City Center at Fat City Bar and Grill, Champaign. To nominate someone, go to