Change is coming to Organ Extravaganza at Rialto
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media April 24, 2013 5:08PM
An Evening of Organ Music & Laughter
♦ 7 p.m. April 27
♦ Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $30
♦ (815) 726-6600
Updated: May 28, 2013 7:54PM
In an effort to stay current, the annual Organ Extravaganza show at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet is changing its name and altering its format.
“We try to do different things,” said Steve LaManna, who is the volunteer producer of the show. “Many audience members said that they wanted the show a little more intimate.”
This year’s show will feature comedian Rex Havens as its host and its title has been changed to An Evening of Organ Music & Laughter. The show will be presented on April 27 at the Rialto.
“Rex Havens is a stand-up comic and a corporate comedy speaker,” LaManna said. “He appeals to the boomer-aged audience. He will be the master of ceremonies of the show this year. He will be doing bits at the beginning and end of the half and at the beginning and end of the show.”
The keyboard artists performing in the show include Jelani Eddington, Rosemary Bailey, Walt Strony and Zach Frame. The Eden Music Group, a quintet, will accompany the artists.
“The music will be the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” LaManna said. “You’ll hear Rat Pack music, pop music and ultra lounge-style music.
Although this is the 17th year the concert is being performed, LaManna has been involved with the production for the past 12 years. He started producing the show after the Joliet Area Theatre Organ Enthusiasts — a chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society — asked him to put the show together.
As the volunteer producer of the show, LaManna determines a theme and figures out the lineup.
One thing that has not changed with this year’s show is the use of the Grande Barton theater pipe organ, which is housed in the Rialto Square Theatre. The pipe organ accompanied silent movies and vaudeville acts during the 1920s.
“We have the Barton, a concert grand piano and a high-end, digital organ on stage,” said LaManna of the various instruments featured in the show. “The four artists will perform individually on the Barton.”
LaManna said the four keyboard performers will play together as a group, do solo pieces and do duets.
“At several points in the show everyone plays together,” he said. “It is an evening of nice pop music.”
Even though LaManna receives no monetary compensation for producing the show, he said he is compensated in other ways. “The theater is so supportive of something like this.”