Starlight Theatre’s upcoming season is stacked with diverse, exciting and engaging shows. Five musicals are set to take the stage this summer at the Bengt Sjostrom Theatre at Rock Valley College, 3301 N. Mulford Road, Rockford.
“This lineup really seems to resonate with our audiences,” says Christopher D. Brady, producing artistic director.
“Starlight Theatre is high-quality community theatre of our very own, nestled on the beautiful Rock Valley College campus, under a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind outdoor roof that opens up to the stars,” he continues. “It’s cozy, exceptional, and a gem of our community. How is that not an experience you want to take part in? And how is that anything but an asset to our community?”
Starting the season off on a high note is “Footloose” June 7-10 and July 12-16.
“Let’s face it, ‘Footloose,’ in this day and age, really resonates with all of us 40-50 somethings, which is weird to say, but is also magnetic with those who are younger,” Brady says. “It’s sort of a ‘power to the people’ show, but very Midwest-style.”
Next up is Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” June 14-17 & July 19-23. Written and cast as a show by people of color, the show will resonate with everyone, Brady says.
“It’s about belonging, it’s about community, and it’s about finding out the best community is the one that you’ve created already – the one that’s shared your history… family. It’s very 815 appropriate, though it takes place in New York. It’s a wonderful piece, really.”
Memorable songs such as “Food, Glorious Food,” “Consider Yourself,” “It’s a Fine Life,” “I’d Do Anything,” and “Pick a Pocket or Two” are in “Oliver!” June 21-24 and July 26-30.
“‘Oliver!’ is a classic, and it showcases kids. What’s not to like?!,” says Brady. “It’s fun, but it’s dark… a little bit like life… but shined up like a Victorian shoe.”
A revamped version of Roger’s and Hammerstein’s classic “Cinderella” rounds out the season June 28-July 1 and August 2-6.
“It includes all of those sweet songs like “In My Own Little Corner” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” but with new orchestrations and a fresh book, it really glistens like never before,” Brady says.
There’s also a Starlittle show, “The Stinky Cheeseman,” August 10-12.
“We haven’t had such a quirky and totally fun Starlittle show – just for the kids – as ‘Stinky Cheese Man,’” Brady says. “It’s a crazy and totally fun piece. It’s as unique as the book is, but it’s up on a stage – it’s going to be a remarkable experience for the little ones.”
Main Stage show tickets are $12 for kids under age 10, $17 for students in junior high through college, $28 for adults, and $26 for teachers, military and seniors ages 65 and older. Tickets are available at rvcstarlight.ludus.com, by calling (815) 921-2160, or by purchasing in person Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
“To be honest, I think what’s going to be really exciting about it all is seeing each show’s unique success,” Brady says. “They’re all a celebration of something, so it’s going to be thrilling celebrating all summer long.”
Brady is proud of all the people who make these performances come together.
“I’m proud of the people who make this happen, and they are much too numerous to name,” he says.
“Each level and facet to creating musicals is an art form unto itself. We have designers who imagine up the scenery, the costumes, the lighting, the props, and each one of them brings artistry, not just talent, to their elements. We’ve got directors, choreographers, and music directors who take pride in pushing their creative abilities to the limit for each and every one of these shows. They tell the stories through staging, dance, and music – each one a completely different element from the next, but all need to coagulate into one unified piece by the end.
“So, why am I proud? I’m not sure how I couldn’t be,” Brady continues. “From the moment something this massive has its opening performance to the public until the roof and the curtains close on it at its last, everyone out here beams with pride looking over the creations that took us over a year to produce. And, to be honest, we almost always love the final product. When the shows hit like that, our pride is abundant…and our gratitude is all-consuming.” ❚