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Hello from Williams Street Repertory at Raue Center For The Arts

By Miriam Naponelli, Marketing Manager

After holding the position of Marketing Manager for six months, I can say with great pride that I love my job! My background is in theater and acting, and I stumbled into theatrical marketing about five years ago. I love going to work every day and being able to stand behind the work that happens on stage at Raue Center.

This past month, Raue Center’s in-house theatre company, Williams Street Repertory, began working on Any Other Name, a new work and Chicago Premiere. Any Other Name is a smart, sexy and savvy psychological thriller about identity theft in the Victorian era. Any Other Name is written by George Brant, an award-winning playwright whose other works include Grounded. Grounded is currently being produced at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and is also being adapted as a screenplay starring Anne Hathaway.

Any Other Name is directed by Brad Raimondo, an acclaimed director from New York. As the rehearsal process continues, Brad is bringing this dark comedy to life in a brilliant way. The cast features three WSRep ensemble members: James Knight*, Michele Vazquez* and Frank Gaughan, along with New York actor, Greg Carere, who is making his WSRep debut. Carere, Knight, Vazquez and Gaughan breathe life into these characters and physicalize their journey of coming to terms with themselves. With Brad’s guidance, the cast keeps the show quick, witty, down to earth and driven.

Any Other Name will take place in a specially designed, more intimate space on Raue Center’s stage. With only 100 (very comfortable and very new) seats available, the audience will experience this show in a personal and comfortable way. With limited seats available, you will not want to miss this one! Come see this great piece of art, March 17th – April 2nd at Raue Center For The Arts

The Iceman of Crystal Lake, full-story

The Iceman of Crystal Lake
by P. C. Denofrio, poet-in-residence at Raue Center

This is a piece of fiction,  written in a Victorian-style, based on historical facts. These events did not actually occur.

An excerpt from the diary of Mary Florence Dole:

     January 17, 1872 – Hattie and I were out today at the mansion, we wanted to go ice skating. Hattie ran ahead and slipped on the frozen lake. She       kept going. I remember being afraid because the ice was particularly clear that day… like crystal, from where it got its name.

When Hattie had reached the middle of the lake, she looked down and let out a shriek. There, clear as day, I’ll never forget it, was the brow of a             man. But it was not a man, or not any kind of man I knew. He looked pale, with a heavy, low brow, with hair all over.

I had to drag Hattie home, she was unconscious from fear. Daddy went out to take a look. When he came back he looked… (here the rest of the               passage is missing)

Charles S. Dole sold us his elaborate mansion in 1873. I was from the Crystal Lake Ice Company out of Chicago, and as the demands were increasing exponentially we jumped at the opportunity.

I must admit, I had my misgivings about what seemed to me must have been an outstanding amount of money spent on Dole’s mansion, since he was just selling it to us for a dollar, but I’m no business man, just a land surveyor for the ice company.

Still, it seemed suspect…

Something troubled me about Dole’s sale of his estate for a single dollar. It seemed too simple, as if he was trying to get rid of it.

The Crystal Lake Ice Co. didn’t seem to care. So we went through with the purchase of Dole’s mansion. And started extracting immediately.

It was late February 1873 when it was found. At first the boys thought it was just a drowned man… but when I saw that face I knew it was something else.

Something not quite human. Something before human.

It was brought up in a huge cube of ice; it was then that I noticed its enormous size was no trick the ice was playing on the eye… easily it held a height of 7 feet or so, broad as two men.

Feeling that the finding of a body in the water from whence we carved our ice, the company man demanded a crude shack be built around his block of ice, to prevent its being seen.

The house, like an ice fisherman’s house was built, with a door to make it “inconspicuous,” but I bolted and pad locked the door myself, always fearing for the worst.

Suddenly Dole’s short sale was making sense…

As I have said, I bolted the door myself, being a naturally superstitious man, fearing somehow that the frozen Neanderthal might escape, after being frozen for what must have been an unfathomable amount of years.

On the morning of March 1, 1873, I woke to find my superstitious precautions wholly unnecessary… for when I went to the makeshift shack I found the lock was broken—

Along with much of our company’s equipment!

Furthermore, I could see the Iceman’s oversized footprints in the melting snow leading north, to the settled part of town.

I hastened on, toward the Iceman’s advance, not knowing of course my own fate, but knowing instinctually destruction lay in the monster’s wake.

I followed his tracks that led toward civilization, and to my mind the desolation thereof, and feared the worst for Nunda (for, even though it had only been my home for a few months, I loved the village I now called home).

It was south of Virginia Street I found the vile thing, beating at doors and causing a general ruckus, which I found intensely unsettling for such a quiet town, when a young woman emerged in her night robe holding a candle.

The villain hastened toward the girl, with a vigor I did not think something so recently frozen could muster, and she adeptly moved and ran down the length of Virginia, all the while the beastly thing following, and I set out post-haste after the pair.

We were, the three of us, hastening toward the lake…

The woman hastened quickly toward Crystal Lake, candle in hand, so quickly that I was almost unable to keep pace with her.

As for the ghastly man, his lumbering stride seemed to break into a series spasmodic lunges toward the young woman. He was constantly grasping at her arms, hands, as if to pull her toward him, if only he could catch her.

I saw, in the clear winter morning as if it were a play-acted vignette, that the pair upon reaching the rough sand of the shore did a sort of dance. It turned out to be a tussle, a fight over, of all things, the candlestick—

When suddenly, the lady, whose hand the monster had relinquished for but a moment, flung the candle into the air above the lake.

That thing, the beast in human form, ran headlong onto the thinning ice for the candlestick. It was in this moment I realized that he, naturally, wanted the warmth of the flame. Had he not been frozen for what must have been centuries!

I was about to call out to the Neanderthal or the woman, when I watched that same ice, which must have kept him trapped for years, give out from beneath his ghastly form, and he was gone.

But there are those who say the detestable Iceman of Crystal Lake still comes each winter, born from the ice, to find some semblance of warmth…

Emmy Award Winner Louie Anderson to Bring Laughs to Raue Center

Join Raue Center For The Arts for an evening of comedy with two-time Emmy Award winner Louie Anderson at 8 p.m. on July 29, 2016. Anderson, who was named by Comedy Central as “One of 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time,” is one of the country’s most recognized andLOUIE3-2 adored comics.

Anderson began his stand-up comedy car
eer in his native Minneapolis, where he was dared by friends to perform onstage at a comedy club. His big break came in 1984 when he appeared on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” Carson was so impressed with Anderson that he called him out for a rare and coveted “second bow.” This performance skyrocketed Anderson to fame.

A multi-talented performer, Anderson has worked in television and movies in addition to his live stand-up shows. He has starred in his own CBS sitcom, “The Louie Show,” as well as five comedy specials for HBO and Showtime. Anderson has also guest-starred in popular sitcoms including “Scrubs” and “Grace Under Fire,” and has also had memorable featured roles in films such as “Coming to America” opposite Eddie Murphy. Additionally, Anderson created and produced the two-time Emmy Award-winning animated FOX series, “Life With Louie.”

Anderson is currently headlining his own stand-up comedy show, “Louie Live,” at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Anderson can also be seen in his recent appearance on “Baskets,” the new FX show by Louie CK and Zach Galifianakis.

Tickets start at $31 and may be purchased online at or via the Box Office at 815.356.9212 or 26 N. Williams Street in downtown Crystal Lake.

WSR Presents Pure Musical Joy With “[title of show]” at Raue Center

Four friends have three weeks to write one musical.

On July 15, WSR opens “[title of show]” — yes, that’s the title — Broadway’s surprise hit musical about 4 friends who have 3 weeks to write 1 award-winning musical! The hit musical “[title of show]” runs select days
July 15 – August 6 as part of TheatreFEST at Crystal Lake’s Raue Center For The [tos]_Image_Clean_WebArts.

“[title of show]” follows Jeff and Hunter, two struggling writers who hear about a new musical theatre festival. However, the deadline for submissions is only three weeks away. With nothing to lose, the pair decides to write what they know and create something new with the help of their friends Susan, Heidi and Larry. This musical is, above all, a love letter to musical theater — a uniquely American art form — and to the joy of collaboration.

“I’m excited to be directing this musical trajectory of creative expression. It’s irreverent, funny, unique, and most of all, it’s about dreams coming true,” says director Regina Belt-Daniels, “And as the four characters discover, to quote Sondheim, ‘art isn’t easy!'”

“[title of show]” features the musical talents of Joel Bennett, Sarah Jordan, Billy Seger, and Amanda Flahive (WSR ensemble member) and is directed by ensemble member, Regina Belt-Daniels. “[title of show]” is produced by Williams Street Repertory, McHenry County’s only professional theatre company and opens at Raue Center For The Arts on July 15.

WSR Takes on Friendship and Artistic Perceptions in “Art”

Art-wframeA longtime friendship gets put to the test in Yasmina Reza’s biting comedy, “Art,” produced by WSR.

Only July 8, the theatre part of TheatreFEST goes into high gear with two shows running in rotating rep at downtown Crystal Lake’s Raue Center For The Arts. Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning comedy “Art” runs select days July 8 – July 31.

“Art” follows three longtime friends, Marc, Serge and Yvan. When Serge drops a fortune on a piece of modern art, his friends’ surprising reactions touch off a series of personal confrontations that threaten their friendship in hilarious ways. This intelligent, rapid-fire comedy, sparkling with verbal wit, explores the power of art to engage the imagination… not to mention enflame the emotions.

“I enjoy stories where seemingly mundane events cause these tremendous explosions between people,” explains director and ensemble member Michele Vazquez, “I find it very true to life. We fight about a painting or leaving the toilet seat up or any number of stupid things. But what we are really fighting about is something else entirely; an old wound, a grievance, a resentment, a thwarted expectation. It resonates because we’ve all been there…and it’s funny for the same reason. Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself.”

“Art” features ensemble members Ivan Ewert as Yvan, Tod Kent as Serge and James Turano as Marc. “Art” is produced by Williams Street Repertory, McHenry County’s only professional theatre company and opens at Raue Center For The Arts on July 8.

The Hauntings of El Tovar

The Hauntings of El Tovar
by P.C. Denofrio

A note to the reader, this is a Victorian-style Ghost story; it is fiction, based on historical fact.

As Raue Center’s Poet in Residence, I have done quite a bit of research on the institution at large. I was asked by a new staff intern, looking rather troubled, if I knew anything about ‘a ghost,’ here, at Raue Center. The story I told her went as follows:

In the late 1920s and ‘30s, organized workers were enraged.

And in 1929, Raue Center was called El Tovar. El Tovar was a vaudevillian stage and a movie house. At this time there was a great unrest centered on movie houses because projection work was largely regarded as unskilled by theater owners, and non-union laborers were hired as a means to keep operating costs down.

Several bombings, sponsored by Projectionists’ Unions, had taken place at theatres and movie houses around the country. And in 1929 El Tovar was targeted for hiring a non-union projectionist.

Several stench or incendiary bombs were detonated in the screening room and the audience fled for the lobby in the suffocating smog and smell that issued.

As the people entered the lobby a bomb in the front of house was detonated, and although much damage was done, most everyone was accounted for and was said to have escaped the flames of the exploded lobby, with the exception of one.

The audience was safe and sound, but that non-unionized projectionist was never seen or heard from again…

The new intern looked at me incredulously. “But that’s not the most fantastic part of it,” and I continued:

For many-a-year no one spoke of the incident, outside of the damages the lobby suffered, and after the theatre reopened many strange things were uttered backstage.

Curious happenings surfaced: ghostly lights were seen, lights flashed, candles were found burning in the basement.

But seeing as it was a theatre, it was assumed to be nothing more than the normal drama and superstition that follows theatre life.

Only a year after the bombing, however, the “superstitions” were beginning to take their toll. For the record low   audiences, the managers blamed the Depression, but it has been said the theater’s owners knew better.

Later that same year the theatre was leased out to the Polka Brothers theater chain, and this temporarily boosted   audience numbers. But even with new and better equipment, El Tovar was soon forced to shut its doors.

I asked around town whether or not anyone knew of any strange goings on that might account for the El Tovar’s sudden downfall.

The people old enough to remember the old theatre looming over their town, would look with quaking eyes, and insist that it was the Depression.

But one woman told me that I should “stop asking questions you don’t want the answers to.” What she told me next quite left me shook where I was standing…

Remembering the tale as it was told me, I had to take a moment before recounting the rest of the story to our new intern. She shifted uneasily from her left to her right, nervously. I continued:

The lady told me that she could not entirely account for the small audiences, but that she had heard of many strange happenings since the disappearance of that non-union projectionist. Not anything she would call “hauntings,” necessarily, but that seemed close to it.

You see, after a short run as an art house following the reopening of El Tovar, the building changed hands again and became The Lake movie house.  As The Lake, many mishaps continued to occur: falling boxes, missteps off platforms, and the like.

A few times, people claimed to have seen the visage of a young man made of smoke standing outside the lighting booth, which would have been the projectionists’ booth.

Some people explained that the boy they saw seemed to have trouble breathing, and had sunken, dark eyes.

“One day,” the woman explained to me, “a workman from the gas company went down into the basement where the meter was housed.” Here, she claimed, he had heard the distinct sound of a mob of people running towards the lobby above him.

The theatre had been completely empty.

He was so sure of what he had heard, however that he bolted up the stairs only to see a solitary man in his early twenties in singed clothes, coughing heartily, clasping his throat, and casting disparaging gazes at him…

The intern looked horrified, and I stated, of course, (as I’m sure the current reader can tell) that all of the tales were based entirely on conjecture, and hat theaters are literally dark, unlit places that breed more superstitions than an average institution.

When that terrified look remained in her face, I demurred fearing I had gone too far, and perhaps I had touched on a sour subject to her. But when she asked me to describe the non-union laborer in more detail, I told her I could not for I’d already told her all I knew of it.

She looked at me wide eyed and told me, quite flatly, “I saw a man matching that description, the singed clothes and coughing, the first time I was in the theater.” She said she doubted what she had seen, so she didn’t think she should bring it up.

She started:

“When passing through the theater I looked into the balcony, I saw a figure; it was coughing and looking at the light booth.

“That’s where the projection booth was, I suppose.”

Now I froze and knew not how to go on. Then determining to put an end to this dreadful I tale, I said:

“Yes, theaters all have their silly little ghost stories.”

I didn’t have the heart to finish the story I’d started, but the story goes on to say:

From the day that gasman saw that wretched apparition, he began having lung problems and could never seem to quite clear his throat. It seems he never thought the air was clear enough, and he could never seem to get enough oxygen.

Chicago Jazz Culture and Its Resurgence into the Pop-Consciousness

For years, Chicago has been home to many great Jazz and Blues musicians: from Muddy Waters to Corky Siegel to Sonny Rollins.  Chicago brought about a unique sound into the Jazz world, borrowing from the Dixieland-style that migrated north with the freed slaves of the South. Chicago-style Jazz is a unique blend of the smooth, melodic sounds of blues melded with the sweet staccato rhythms of early Jazz.

With the rise in popularity of movies like Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby and TV shows like Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, Jazz music and musicians are back in the limelight and are enjoying attention from a new and entirely different demographic— Millennials.

A flock of piano bars, cabarets, and jazz clubs have opened up in and around Chicago; some sprawling as far as Richmond. Raue Center For The Arts in Crystal Lake opened its own Piano Bar in its second floor lounge space, 26 North.

The influence of jazz is reaching out from the city’s gritty dark corners into little hidden gems of suburban nightspots, where different significant cultural and artistic outlets are developing.

This is good news not only for jazz lovers in McHenry County, but also for anyone who loves to see art and artistic organizations flourish in their community.

Piano Bar at 26N is open every First Friday at 7P- 26 N Williams Street, Crystal Lake, IL.

Ballet: Artistry in Movement that Spans the Globe

Although the origins of ballet can be traced back to the Renaissance period and the early court dances in France and Italy, it has become an art form that finds its inspiration globally.

At first, any celebratory occasion, such as the birth of an heir or an influential marriage would call for social court dancing.  But it has since become a widespread, highly technical form of dance with its own vocabulary based on French terminology.

Classic ballets always included a pas de deux (dance for two) for the male and female lead dancers followed by a difficult solo for each one of them and a coda (a short quick finale) in which the two leads dance together again.

Russian classical ballet took off in St. Petersburg in the late 1800s with the more challenging choreography. As the technical abilities of the dancers increased, full‐length classic ballets were created for them to dance.

Women’s costumes became shorter, and the classical tutu became popular. This allowed the dancers to move more easily and also enabled the audience to see the dancers’ legs and feet as they executed the difficult steps.

Many of the ballets choreographed at this time, including Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker are still performed today and are some of the most beloved ballets of all time.

The origin of The  Nutcracker, a classic Christmas Story, is a fairy tale ballet in two acts centered on a family’s Christmas Eve celebration. It is Alexandre Dumas Père’s (A Frenchman) adaptation of the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann (A German) was set to music by Tchaikovsky (A Russian).

The Nutcracker Ballet is performed each holiday season at Raue Center and features the Berkshire Ballet Theatre.

7 Signs That You Are Meant to Be in Musical Theatre

1). You find it difficult to keep from spontaneously breaking out in song—

Because, let’s face it… life gets boring when you’re not providing your own sound track.

2). You love SMILING—

Smiling at the neighbors, smiling at your boss, smiling at patrons, smiling at your neighbors’ dog. Smiling just makes everything better… and singing… and dancing. But mostly smiling.

3). If your apartment is covered in bobby pins—

Even if you’re a guy…

4). Or headshots—

Especially if you’re a guy.

5). You always appreciate making an entrance—

In fact, if you’re not making a grand entrance, people assume you’re not feeling well.  And this entrance is usually accompanied with song.

6). Honey and tea, no dairy, comprise about 50% of your diet at any given time—

You know when you need to rest your voice, which is most of the time… because who knows when you’re going to need to break out in song to make your, or someone else’s, day that much more magical?

7). You enjoy pretending your someone else, like, all of the time—

It’s just the greatest thing to not have to deal with reality, because (let’s face it) reality lacks enough dancing, singing, and, well, singing and dancing.