Whatever your artistic preferences, a number of venues and groups in the south and southwest suburbs score high on the arts appreciation scale.
History and live entertainment merge at Rialto Square Theatre, the "Jewel of Joliet." This former Vaudeville movie palace made its opulent debut in Joliet in 1926 at a cost of $2 million. It was restored to its original glory in 1980 and underwent further updates in a $5 million 2006 campaign to "polish the jewel." Today the theater is a venue for Broadway shows, big-name musical acts, and a comedy festival.
If the classics make you swoon, the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra is your ticket. This 75-member professional orchestra is the largest performing arts organization in the Chicago Southland. In June, it named Austrian conductor David Danzmayr as its new music director, a post held by Carmon DeLeone for the past 25 years. DeLeone now serves as Conductor Laureate.
The Philharmonic's season runs from November through May, presenting a six-concert Saturday Evening Series at the 900-seat Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center in Frankfort. The series includes five Symphonic Classics programs and a December Holiday Pops concert. In addition, the orchestra presents its Summer Music at Ravisloe series Wednesday evenings in July and August at Ravisloe Country Club in Homewood.
Summer isn't summer without a night spent at The First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre taking in a performance of world-class musical acts under the stars. Top-rated performers make the summer sojourn to Tinley Park to perform in the largest outdoor concert venue in the Midwest with outdoor seating for more than 12,000. On the bill is Kelly Clarkson Sept. 1 and Kiss and
Community theater is alive and well in these suburbs with several acting troops treading the boards. The Drama Group is an all-volunteer theater ensemble based in Chicago Heights that has been bringing Broadway to the south suburbs since 1931. It has its own intimate theater space called the Studio Theatre and mounts larger productions in the Bloom Theatre. Look for "The Wiz" and "West Side Story" in the 2013 season.
The Palos Village Players also is enjoying a long run. It began in the living rooms of local residents in the 1940s who gathered to read plays. The acting troop presents three plays a year at the Palos Park Recreation Center.
Works of art are showcased in several venues throughout these suburbs. The Illinois State Museum
Two unique venues in the south suburbs celebrate heritage and ethnicity. The Lithuanian Museum of Art in Lemont is made up of four separate organizations: The Lithuanian Art Gallery, which owns more than 550 works by Lithuanian artists; Art Society, which owns more than 300 works by native and emigrant Lithuanian artists; Lithuanian Institute of Fine Arts; and the Lithuanian Folk Art Institute, which includes textiles, wood carvings, ceramics and other Lithuanian folk art.
Chicago Gaelic Park is dedicated to promoting and fostering Irish culture, music and sports on a 50-acre site in Oak Forest. It has its own theater group, Gaelic Park Players, which presents two shows a year in spring and summer.
For those who like to keep their entertainment pleasure under one roof, Joliet offers two pleasure palaces to do just that: Harrah's and Hollywood Casino. Both places offer gaming excitement and a variety of live entertainment and special events.