Raue Center for the Arts offers a full slate for 2013

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For more than 12 years, the dream of Raue Center for the Arts, in Crystal Lake, has garnered supporters from the community and beyond.

Raue Center’s framework got its start in 1929 as El Tovar, a place for movies and vaudeville theatre to showcase the thrilling new talkies and the troupers who wheeled into town on tour with their backstage trunks and onstage spangles. Home to the movies for most of its life, El Tovar eventually became The Lake, and then drifted into a spinsterish old age as the downtown Showplace.

Long-time McHenry County resident Lucile Raue left a generous gift for the improvement of downtown Crystal Lake. An advisory group of local citizens and the executor directed a gift from the Raue Family Estate to the Crystal Lake Civic Center Authority. The Estate had made an outright gift to buy the building and use $1 million for renovations. Another $500,000 was given in matching incentives.

Ground was broken in November of 1999 and Raue Center for the Arts opened its doors in August of 2001 — painted, polished and suited in newly upholstered seats dressed in a rich russet color. Since then, they have welcomed Tony, Academy and Grammy award winners as well as independent voices to its stage with the unique opportunity to connect with an audience in a truly intimate and exhilarating space.

As the dream of Raue Center came to fruition, the outcry for a grassroots movement of play readings became louder and louder. This request was fulfilled in several ways including the Page to Stage program and production of seven new play readings, two of which were world premieres, since 2007. The original playwrights of these readings include JT Rogers, Sean Grennan, Tim Clue and Diane Baia.

Williams Street Repertory (WSR), the theatre’s in-residence company, was formed and co-produced Russian playwright Yury Klavdiev’s “I Am the Machine Gunner” translated by John Freedman, with the Generous Company including Mike Vandercook, the Center for International Theater and Towson University. This was the first Actors Equity-approved production for WSR.

In 2011, WSR mounted its first complete season beginning with “The Rocky Horror Show” (Oct. 2011). The season was met with much praise from audiences and critics alike. WSR saw an extreme amount of growth during its second complete season including new actors, directors and creative teams, all while producing six exciting shows.

As WSR looks to its third season, they remain dedicated to sustaining an artistic process of innovative and emotionally charged work, telling diverse stories and creating an in-house production company of well-respected artists. WSR’s 2013/2014 season is set to include “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (Oct. 2013), “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play” (Nov.-Dec. 2013), “The Vagina Monologues” (Jan.- Feb. 2014), “She Loves Me” (Feb. 2014) and “Barefoot in the Park”(May 2014). Patrons can also look forward to the free monthly reading series, “Get Lit(erary)” continuing this season, as well as a new program called “Contemporary Voices,” featuring new works in staged readings from acclaimed playwrights such as Lee Blessing, JT Rogers and many more.

Raue Center’s core belief remains that a passion for the performing arts begins at an early age, Raue Center is committed to presenting the finest arts education programming through Mission Imagination education outreach performances — at the theatre and in the schools — for the area school children. Throughout the school year, students will enjoy performances of “New Shanghai Circus,” “James and the Giant Peach” and “The World of Pooh.” Workshops will also be available this fall through Raue Center’s Sage Studio program.

New this year is Raue Center’s Artful Women. The committee comprised of women from all over the county will bring women’s issues to Raue Center’s stage with the goal of inspiring, enriching, educating and entertaining the community. The committee kicked off their series with “Band of Sisters,” a documentary about Catholic nuns and their work for social justice after Vatican II. On Sept. 19, the committee will host an Artful Women Luncheon on stage at Raue Center featuring author, and Woodstock-resident, Erane Scully as the keynote speaker, who so eloquently tells her story of surviving two years in a Russian labor camp during World War II.

In addition, on stage again this year is the theatre’s largest annual gala fundraiser, Stargazers Ball (10/5). The glamorous night includes gourmet fare, signature cocktails, dancing and more.

Striving to provide a unique and personal experience with up-and-coming musicians in various and diverse genres, the theatre has revamped the “Lucy’s Music: Sessions Series.” The theatre stepped back and looked at what Raue Center’s music line-up was missing and the answer was blatantly clear: emerging, indie music. The result is shaping up to be the best mixed-stage in McHenry County. This program began Aug. 2 with Minneapolis indie-kings Night Moves and hits the stage next on Nov. 15.

In addition to expanding it’s programming, the theatre also installed a full-service upstairs bar called 26 North. This space has been home to events like the Raue Center Scotch Tasting as well as the Raue Salon, a bi-monthly invite-only celebration of local artists and their work. Patrons are encouraged to come early and stop in for a signature drink before the show!

Going into its 13th season, Raue Center enthusiastically brings you the opportunity to witness contemporary, vibrant performing arts on a state-of-the-art stage. Starting in September, audiences can look forward to a unique blend of esteemed national acts like Ben Vereen (9/21), Los Lobos (9/26), Dr. John (11/8), New Year’s Eve Comedy with Steve Cochran (12/31) and Robert Klein (4/5), interspersed with shows from the small second-stage series, “Lucy’s Café.”

The season also includes musical favorites like Heartache Tonight (9/14), Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (10/12), and Abba Mania (11/16) returning for another year.

Experience Raue Center this season again or for the first time. 2013/2014 season ticket packages and single tickets are on sale now online at rauecenter.org or via the theatre’s box office at (815) 356-9212.

Provided by Raue Center for the Arts