Archive for the ‘2011’ Category

The Spirit of Christmases Past

lprice | November 28, 2011 in 2011,CTWS,TWS | Comments (2)

It’s hard to believe that our Holiday Show, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, is opening this Friday! Our season is flying by, but we don’t let the good times pass us by without keeping track of all the fun we have at TWS.

To get us in the spirit of the season, here are some photos of past holiday shows. We’re glad we’ve helped make so many happy memories and we look forward to making many more memories in years to come!


From The Christmas Promise in 1947, the year after our Children’s Theatre began.

From our 1972 production of A Christmas Carol.

From 1981′s Cricket on the Hearth.

2011 marks our fifth time spending Christmas with the Herdmans. This photo is from our 1991 production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

From our 2000 production of Merry Christmas Strega Nona.

There are so many ways to share the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. This shot is from our 2008 production of Scrooge, the Musical.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays this season, we hope that you include the Theatre of Western Springs in your plans. We enjoy being part of our community’s traditions each year. Happy Holidays!

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A few words and many possibilities

lprice | November 9, 2011 in 2011,CTWS | Comments (1)

Our latest blog post is of courtesy of Tripp Burton who is directing our production of The Sparrow. Take it away, Tripp…


When I first read The Sparrow last year, it took me about halfway through the script to really get scared. That moment came in Scene 19. It is the end of Act I, so it is a climactic moment where we have to wrap up the first part of the story, move the characters into the next part of the story and keep the audience enthralled enough that they won’t get in their cars during intermission and take off. This is how the scene reads:


Emily retreats to the cornfields to be safe and alone with her happiness. She flies in elation.


That is it. No dialogue, no other characters, no obvious conflict, no real action. Just two simple sentences that do nothing except bring up a whole list of question, both logistic and creative:


Does she actually fly?

Can we put an actor up in the air on wire, like Peter Pan?

Is there actually a cornfield?

How does an actor convey feeling safe?

Wait, she flies?

How do I feel about trampolines?

What happened to the other actors in the play?

How do you build a cornfield on stage that doesn’t look like Oklahoma!?

Does she fly like a bird, or like Superman, or like a flying squirrel, or like an airplane?

Is this just symbolism, or is it real?

Is it too expensive to build a zip line through the Cattell Theatre?

How good is our insurance policy?

Why is she happy when she didn’t seem that way half a page ago?

How do you show “alone with her happiness” in a play?

Are teenagers strong enough to lift up Emily like Swan Lake?

Wait a minute, she has to fly?


What you have to do is throw out everything you know about putting on a play and build your own set of rules for the world of this play. You have to not think realistically about getting from A to B to C to D, but instead use every creative muscle in your body to find a new way to get there, but may involved skipping C altogether, or going from A to E and back to D. Then, once you have created this set of rules and laid out your new vocabulary for your play, you have to find a way to make in meaningful for an audience, and make sure they are seeing the same story you want to tell. None of this is easy, but our High School Repertory Company is always up for a grand challenge and they have stepped up to it this time in a big way. The Sparrow is a big play, emotionally, physically and intellectually. They have discovered that when you are given a scene like this, and a play that lets your recreate the boundaries of reality, you are given a great gift of a play to work on. The Sparrow is one of the most exciting pieces of theatre you will see, and if it takes a little extra work on the part of the audience to fill in the gaps from A to D, it is worth that effort.


As to how we managed to get scene 19 to work, it took a lot of experimenting and stretching to get it to the place it had to be…and you have to come see the show to find out what we did.  I promise you won’t want to sneak out to your car afterwards!


The Sparrow runs November 11-20, 2011 at The Theatre of Western Springs. For tickets or additional information, call our box office at 708-246-3380.


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The Sparrow Opens This Friday November 11th

MaryCattell | November 8, 2011 in 2011,CTWS | Comments (0)

The Sparrow

The Sparrow

Emily Book is no ordinary teenager. Her quiet, unassuming demeanor belies the secret she’s carried with her for most of her young life. Returning to her hometown for her final year of high school stirs up rumors of Emily’s mysterious past and her supernatural gift that is as thrilling as it is shocking.

Originally developed and produced at The House Theatre of Chicago, The Sparrow is a story that will stay with audiences long after they leave the theatre.

Recommended for ages 12 and up.

Buy Tickets or call our box office at 708-246-3380

Dan Christopher Aidan Van Nest
Albert McGuckin, Skye Thompson Jack McDermott
Mark Gilbert, Jonathan Simpson Max Walczyk
Brad Gomer, Driver, Parent Leo Fotos
Sheriff Rosenthal, Louis Nash Adrian Murphy
Coach Adams Jonathan Jackson
Charlie McGuckin, Stuart Tristan Collins
Emily Book Chloe Baldwin
Young Emily Book Madelyn Flynn
Jenny McGrath Emily Baker
Joyce McGuckin, Evie Carolyn Dost
Principal Skor Meghan McDermott
Alison McGrath, Michelle Allen, Grandmother Erin Richards
Phoebe Marks, Elizabeth Gilbert Annika Murrell
Tammy Adams, Carol Schott Caroline Westrick
Margaret Rosenthal, Shannon Baker Jenny Goyer
Directed by Tripp Burton
Stage Manager Maddie McDermott


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Details, details…

lprice | October 18, 2011 in 2011,TWS | Comments (0)

This post is from Bonnie Hilton, Properties Designer for TWS’ upcoming production of Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile.


So when do liquor bottles become the greatest challenge to a Props Designer for a show? When the show is set in 1904 Paris and all we have are 2011 bottles. As we prop designers know, all it takes is one audience member to register that something small in a show is not believable and poof!..that person’s attention drifts away from the show.


Having been in charge of props for several TWS shows in the past 20 years, I have discovered the shows with the simplest prop lists are often the most complicated, and several of my fellow prop chairs would agree. Picasso at the Lapin Agile is no exception. There are hardly any props used by the actors, but the set has to convey 1904. Bottle labels, pencils, paper: all of these have changed through the years.


Scouring the Internet, I found numerous early 1900s wine and rum labels, pasted them onto sterilized bottles, added the appropriate color liquid: water, tea, or cranberry-grape juice, and voilà, an illusion of reality! But it did not end there. I needed receipts to look real. (Luckily, I found an old copy of a 1900 receipt on the Internet), the pencils could not have erasers on top, and no plastic could be anywhere on that set. The checkers set and playing cards had to be old style and the writing on the blackboard had to be in the French style. So my “simple” list resulted in about 15 hours of research/work.


However, if you add the element of fun, this show is up there with the best of them. All of us have immensely enjoyed the talent and enthusiasm of our guest director, Timothy Gregory, Artistic Director of Provision Theatre inChicago. The show is funny and leaves you with some great thoughts to ponder.


Picasso at the Lapin Agile opens on Thursday, October 20th and runs through Sunday, October 30th. For tickets to this show or any of our other productions, phone 708-246-3380. 


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Heaven: A Truly Odd Place

lprice | September 27, 2011 in 2011,TWS | Comments (0)

Today’s blog post is from Ed Barrow, the Sound Designer for our upcoming production of Dead Man’s Cell Phone.

Forum 1, Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl, takes it’s heroine, Jean, to many odd and wonderful places. Heaven: a place where you find the people you loved the most. A pretty good deal unless those people didn’t love you the most. Gordon (who sells bodily organs for a living) says, “It’s complicated, don’t try to work it out.” In Ruhl’s version of Heaven, your soul might be cloned – several times. Your Mom always told you to wear clean underwear so you would be presentable to the coroner when you died. That isn’t the half of it. In Heaven, you wear what you wore when you died. Fair enough, except clothes get dirty in Heaven. Once a week you have to go to the laundromat. And you’re naked while you wash your underwear.

It’s whimsy, but the intersection of Ruhl’s real world and this place of nonsense is not easily navigated. It gets in the way of a blossoming love between two naifs, Jean and Dwight. Going from one to the other, Jean weaves a trail of lies and deception. Even for a good cause this can trip up the best intentions. Fundamental is the premise that people are really only the memories held of them by others. And Jean wants to remember everything, even other people’s memories. This world is a fragile place. You need to come to see how it all turns out.

The play is directed by John Gawlik, the Artistic Director of Fox Valley Repertory in St. Charles. It was fascinating to watch John create an ensemble from a cast and crew of strangers. What appears at first reading to be a relatively straightforward play becomes a complex dance of characters, costumes, props, lights and music under his direction. It’s in the round, so there’s not a single bad seat in the house, and I get to play all sorts of tricks with the sound in Cattell. It’s selling out. Call the box office. Operators are standing by.

Dead Man’s Cell Phone opens on Thursday, September 29th and runs through Sunday, October 9th. For tickets to Dead Man’s Cell Phone or any of our other productions, phone 708-246-3380. Ed Barrow may even be the guy taking your reservation. 
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Fun, Friends, and Frosting!

lprice | September 24, 2011 in 2011,CTWS | Comments (0)

It’s been a busy week for our children’s theatre program!

We just finished up “Bring a Friend to Class Week,” and it was truly tons of fun. Students in some classes were encouraged to bring a friend or two with them so guests could see what takes place at the Children’s Theatre of Western Springs and join in the fun. The kids had a wonderful time enjoying each other’s company, and the teachers appreciated getting to know some new students.

This week also marked the second full week of children’s classes at TWS which meant…Color Wheel Day in our Intro to Technical Theatre Class! Why bother with learning the color wheel using boring old charts and graphs when you can learn about it using cookies and frosting?

Deanna Markos, the instructor of the Intro to Tech Class, devised this creative way of teaching color mixing. She brought in vanilla wafers, white frosting, and food coloring in primary colors. Students had to use the food coloring and frosting to create all of the colors in the color wheel. Then, they frosted the cookies with the colors and arranged them on the wheel. Naturally, there was a bit of healthy competition. Naturally, there were no cookies or frosting left at the end of the class. This was all in the name of education, of course.

While there is often a fair amount of silliness when it comes to kids and theatre (or adults and theatre, for that matter!), it seems like the best lessons are learned and the best friendships are made when students of all ages are enjoying themselves. Whether the fun is in rehearsals, during crew calls, or while eating the project you made in class, TWS is a great place to learn something new and do something fun.

Bring a friend week might officially be over for this year, but we love it when our students, families, and patrons share their love of live theatre with their friends and families. Next time you’re headed over to TWS to see a show, invite a friend to tag along. It’ll be that much more fun. And who knows…maybe we’ll have cookies and frosting for you!




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Ready, Set, Show!

lprice | September 7, 2011 in 2011,TWS | Comments (1)

This post is from Bill Rotz, a TWS Active, volunteer, and set designer for the Theatre of Western Springs’ upcoming production of The Melville Boys which opens on Thursday, September 8.

Designing the set for The Melville Boys at TWS is akin to building the inside of a cabin on the lake.  I wanted the look and feel of the set help the actors and audience get into the mood of the play but not overwhelm the play’s action.  The difficult part of designing a set on our super-wide stage is that you have to make certain that the audience at the extreme right and left of the auditorium sees all of the action.  That’s why you won’t see the entire kitchen window if you sit on the extreme right side of the house.  You will, though, understand that there is a window there.  Similarly, you won’t be able to see into the bedroom and bathroom if you sit on the extreme left side of the auditorium, but you will understand that there is a bedroom and bathroom.  These line of sight considerations present similar challenges for nearly every play presented on the TWS stage.

From TWS' production of "The Melville Boys."

On the fun side, though, how many chances do you get to use a deer head and a “stuffed” lake trout on a set?  Fortunately, I have two friends who generously loaned us these trophies.  We’ve also used planked paneling, a fireplace and duck decoys to dress the set and help make it look like a lake house we could picture in our mind.  The work of the set designer is enhanced by all the talented staff and active members at TWS.  Thad Hallstein, our technical director, and Cal Turner, the director, worked closely with me offering suggestions and solving design problems during the design process.

I hope you have a chance to see the play (and the set).  I’m sure you’ll like it.

For more information about The Melville Boys or to reserve tickets, visit our website at or call our box office at 708-246-3380.



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83 Years Young

lprice | September 1, 2011 in 2011,CTWS,TWS | Comments (0)


What could possibly be new with an 83 year-old theatre? After all, we were founded way, way back in 1929–just three weeks after the stock market crash that marked the beginning of the Great Depression.

Well, it turns out that The Theatre of Western Springs is just getting started at the ripe, old age of 83, and our audiences are about to enjoy one of our best seasons yet. We have a great selection of shows (including The Melville Boys which opens September 8); our children’s theatre program is celebrating its 65th year of providing outstanding theatre education; and we are thrilled to welcome Rick Snyder as our new artistic director.

What else is new? Well, we’re getting the hang of this new-fangled social media thing, and that’s where this blog fits in. We want to let folks know about some of the stuff you wouldn’t hear about otherwise. It’s a way for us to let audiences get to know a little more about the ins and outs of TWS, the people that make things happen around here, and just what has made The Theatre of Western Springs a fixture in our community for all these years.

We may be 83 years-old, but we are going strong. Stay tuned for many more stories from the folks of TWS, and come on over and be a part of the art!

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The Melville Boys

MaryCattell | August 10, 2011 in 2011,TWS | Comments (0)

The Melville BoysSeptember 8-18 2011

Two working class brothers, one a goof, the other more cerebral (with issues) meet at a lakeside cabin for a weekend of fishing and beer.

But those plans are upended when they run into two attractive sisters who unwittingly change their weekend– and their lives.

Click here ) for tickets!

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Year-Round Classes are Still Open

MaryCattell | in 2011,CTWS | Comments (0)


As of mid-August, we still have openings in several of our year-round classes. Click here to learn more!

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