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Crowd Pleasers for Sept. 21, 2012

James Walters (standing from left) Carlos Laffitte BrandSmelko PNevins Charlie Furtek Shontanice Miller Betty Owens (seated from left) Cathy Hundt

James Walters (standing, from left), Carlos Laffitte, Brandon Smelko, Pat Nevins, Charlie Furtek, Shontanice Miller, Betty Owens (seated, from left) and Cathy Hundt star in PAC Rats Theatre Company of South Suburban College's "The Mousetrap."

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Updated: October 22, 2012 6:10AM



Here is a look at some crowd pleasers.

Events include the PAC Rats Theatre Company of South Suburban College’s “The Mousetrap” in South Holland and Chicago playwright Todd Logan’s “Defamation” at the Beverly Arts Center.

‘The Mousetrap’

The PAC Rats Theatre Company of South Suburban College will present “The Mousetrap,” written by Agatha Christie, whom many consider the master of British murder mysteries.

Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Sept. 21-22 and 28; 2 and 8 p.m. Sept. 29 and 2 p.m. Sept. 30 in the Kindig Performing Arts Center on the main campus, 15800 State St. (between Sibley Boulevard and 159th Street), South Holland.

This classic theatrical murder mystery is now in its 60th anniversary year. The play was originally written for the BBC as a short story titled “Three Blind Mice” for Queen Mary’s 80th birthday as she’d asked for a new Agatha Christie.

Christie adapted it for the stage and “The Mousetrap” opened in London’s West End in 1952. The show was an immediate sellout hit and is now the longest continuously running stage show, a position it has held for 53 years.

A host of actors and actresses, more than 400 in all, have played the eight characters in the show. Most notable were Richard Attenborough and his film star wife, Sheila Sim, in the original cast.

“That ‘The Mousetrap’ has run continuously for so long is testament to Agatha Christie’s writing skills,” said Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, producer of the London production. “She creates wonderful and varied characters and then she fills them with subtle nuances and storytelling elements that set our imaginations racing.”

To celebrate the show’s anniversary, performance rights were granted to 60 production companies, with the PAC Rats Theatre Company of SSC being one.

The story begins with a group of strangers who are stranded in a boarding house during a snowstorm. One of the strangers is a murderer.

The suspects include the newly married Mollie and Giles Ralston (Cathy Hundt, of Thornton, and Charlie Furtek, of Lansing) who run the house, and the suspicions that are in their minds nearly wreck their perfect marriage.

Others are Miss Casewell, a spinster with a curious background (Shontanice Miller, of Harvey); Christopher Wren, an architect who seems better equipped to be a chef (Brandon Smelko, of Munster, Ind.); retired Army officer Maj. Metcalf (James Walters, of South Chicago Heights); Mr. Paravicini, a strange little man who claims his car has overturned in a drift (Pat Nevins, of Homewood); and Mrs. Boyle who makes life miserable for everyone (Betty Owens, of Glenwood).

The next day brings the arrival of Detective Sgt. Trotter (Carlos Laffitte, of South Holland), on skis, who has come to discuss the recent murder. Sgt. Trotter has reason to believe that someone in the manor has a connection with the crime. The murderer is perhaps even among them.

After the initial questioning reveals no solid alibis for anyone, suspicions begin to rise. Everyone starts to suspect each other. Who will be next?

These are questions that audiences have pondered for more than six decades. One may arrive thinking he or she may know what to expect, but in no time at all, he or she will be involved in a tale where each and every character could be the killer.

Albert Clark, of Oak Lawn, takes on the role of director.

Anne Begora, of Chicago, is the set designer with Lydia Bellamy-Palma and JoAnna Tassin, both of Park Forest, designing lights and costumes respectively.

Angela Martin, of Midlothian, is the stage manager. Eric Pradelski, of South Holland, is her assistant.

Rounding out the production staff are Sandra Wagner, of Lansing, as the sound designer and Kim DeCarlo, of Chicago, as the prop mistress.

“Come out to SSC to celebrate the ultimate murder mystery masterpiece that started it all, but don’t give away the ending,” officials said.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for ages 55 or older, students and ages 12 and younger at (708) 210-5741 or boxoffice@ssc.edu. Group rates also are available.

‘Defamation’

Chicago playwright Todd Logan’s thought-provoking original courtroom drama will be performed at 8 p.m. Sept. 22, 8 p.m. at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago.

Beginning its third season, “Defamation” is a play with a compelling twist: The audience is the jury.

The drama unfolds as a trial involving a black professional woman suing a wealthy Jewish businessman for defamation. The real issues on trial are race, religion and class, all of which the audience-jury must openly untangle in order to reach a verdict.

“Whether we like it or not, we still have major divides in this country,” Logan said. “Most of us still go to bed at night in cities, communities and neighborhoods that are segregated by race, religion, ethnicity and/or class.

“I wanted to write a play that encourages greater tolerance and understanding by spurring self-examination and promoting compelling civil discourse.”

“Defamation” is a take on the he-said-she-said story.

In the play, black businesswoman Regina Wade, the owner of a small design firm on Chicago’s South Side, brings a civil defamation suit against Arthur Golden, a Jewish real estate developer from wealthy Winnetka on Chicago’s North Shore.

Wade claims that Golden ruined her reputation and her business by accusing her of stealing his heirloom watch during a business meeting.

During the course of the performance-trial, lawyers on both sides elicit testimony regarding segregated neighborhoods and private club memberships, racial and religious discrimination, and the hardships and privileges of class.

“My hope is that people become aware of the preconceived notions and implicit biases we harbor every day and then empathize with others more often, thereby combating prevailing trends,” Logan said.

“Making the audience the jury and then inviting the ‘jury’ to dialogue with me and the cast after a verdict is reached, provides a forum to start exactly that process.”

Since its premiere in 2010, “Defamation” has been performed in theaters, high schools, universities, law schools, and civic and religious organizations from Chicago to Jackson, Miss.

The play runs 70 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of open jury deliberation. After a verdict is reached, audience members are encouraged to explore issues further during a question-and-answer session with the playwright and cast.

Logan is also a filmmaker and humorist. His past work includes the play “Botanic Garden” directed by Olympia Dukakis, the independent film “With a Family Like Mine…” and humor pieces published in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and other notable publications.

Tickets to the Beverly Arts Center production of “Defamation” are $20 or $18 for center members at beverlyartcenter.org or (773) 445-3838.

Information: DefamationThePlay.com.

MORE CROWD PLEASERS

ART

THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO: 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, (312) 443-3600: Exhibits include “Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Japanese Art” through Oct. 28, “Film and Photo in New York” through Nov. 25, and “Rarely Seen Contemporary Works on Paper” through Jan. 13. *** Admission is free to Illinois residents on the first and second Wednesdays of the month.

BEVERLY ARTS CENTER: 2407 W. 111 Street, Chicago, (773) 445-3838: “Art 19” will be on display from Sept. 21-Oct. 28. The opening reception will take place from 6-9 p.m. Sept. 22. October is Chicago Artists Month, and this exhibit features 15 artists who live in Chicago’s 19th Ward. The show features works by Cecil McDonald, Dalton Brown, Brigit Scales Fennessy, Robert Workman, Raymond Broady, Danielle Principato, Audrius Plioplys, Sandra Leonard, John Colson, Brian Ritchard, Susannah Papish, Sal Campbell, Baird Campbell, Cathy Sorich and Jon Bakker.

ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM LOCKPORT GALLERY: Norton Building, 201 W. 10th St., First Floor, Lockport, (815) 838-7400: “Focus 4: Four Solo Exhibitions,” which is on view through Oct. 4, features the work of Mario Trejo, Steven Robnett, Don Seiden and Rebecca Wolfram.

Trejo, whose compositions resonate between calm fluidity and struggling chaos, combines rigorous processes and acute attention to detail in the creation of black and white paintings and drawings. He forms small universes within drawings composed of hundreds of thousands of marks, each mark both a relic of the performance of creation and a test of the artist’s own endurance and stamina.

The resulting paintings and drawings reflect a quiet beauty with underlying layers of metaphors of time, space, personal experience and the universe.

Trejo lives and works in Troy, Ill., near St. Louis. He received his bachelor of fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute and his master of fine arts from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Elgin artist Robnett narrates the human experience from multiple perspectives in tightly rendered paintings and compositions of charcoal, pastel and colored pencil.

Seiden is a Chicago-based painter, sculptor and art therapist with more than 50 years of experience. He explores life, art and the creative process utilizing mixed media.

Wolfram delves into the effects of culture, custom and tradition as they reflect and shape social behavior and society.

LEMONT PUBLIC LIBRARY’S ATHENS GALLERY: 50 E. Wend St., (630) 257-6541: The Lemont Artists Guild presents Tony Minard’s “Prairie Portals and Gateways” to Sept. 28. The 24 photos in the exhibit feature doors and windows of Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Oak Park; Springfield; Peoria; Deephaven, Minn.; Highland Park; River Forest and Chicago. Most of the photos are of homes, but also included are photos of the Unity Temple in Oak Park.

Minard has 17 years of experience as a photographer. His interest in Wright goes back to grade-school years when Minard saw commemorative postage stamps of Wright on family letters. Minard began visiting Wright homes in the 1990s but did not start photographing them until 2004, some years after a visit to Wright’s home and studio.

Minard has won many awards for his photographs in five county fairs. These honors include two first places at the Sandwich County Fair in 2005 and 2006. Information: tonyminardpics.com.

PRAIRIE STATE COLLEGE’S CHRISTOPHER ART GALLERY: 202 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights, (708) 709-3636 (PSC Foundation): The “Photographer of the Year” and “2012 Annual Student Exhibition” continues to Sept. 30. The exhibits include drawings, paintings, photographs and mixed media works that were produced by PSC students in the 2011-12 academic year.

Featured during the exhibits will be the work of this year’s photographer of the year, student Beth Schimanski, a resident of Crete. Additional student artists represented in the exhibit are Norman Harris and David Koenig, of Beecher; Adrian Andrade, Karina Corona, Reginald Gale, Miriam Meade, Antoine Merrick and Jackie Reyna, of Chicago Heights; Patrick Van Zyl, of Crete; Emily Schranz, of Glenwood; Kailah Armand and William Moser, of Homewood; Carla Banuelos and Norman Harris, of Lynwood; William Billingsly and Gwen Desvignes, of Matteson; Natalie Pesick, of Olympia Fields; Amber Peoples, of Richton Park; and Tenyiah Simmons, of Steger.

ST. XAVIER UNIVERSITY GALLERY: Warde Academic Center, 3700 W. 103rd St., Chicago, (773) 298-3081: “I is the Grandson,” an art exhibit featuring the work of Jim Zimpel, will be on display from Sept. 26-Oct. 19. An artist’s lecture and reception will take place at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 3. Zimpel’s sculptures explore memories such as a meaningful fishing experience, a trip to a natural wonder and a project built together in the garage shop behind the house. Zimpel is an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago’s Art and Design Department.

COMEDY

DAN D JAC’S: 9358 W. 171st St., Orland Hills, (708) 460-8773: Ray Fischer performs at an open mike comedy show, which begins at 8 p.m. Wednesdays. Admission is free, but there is a two-drink minimum.

RIDDLES COMEDY CLUB: 5055 W. 111th St., Alsip, (708) 422-5055: Steve Kramer will perform two shows each on Sept. 21- 22. He has worked in television, radio, Las Vegas and voice-overs.

MUSEUMS

ADLER PLANETARIUM: 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, (312) 922-7827: “The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time” recently debuted. Other exhibits include “Our Solar System,” “Collecting Memories: The Webster Story,” “Planet Explorers” for families with ages 3-8, “Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass,” and “Shoot for the Moon.”

THE FIELD MUSEUM: 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, (312) 922-9410: “Fashion and the Field Museum Collection: Maria Pinto” recently opened and will run to June 16. Other exhibits include “The Romance of Ants” through Oct. 28; “Nature’s Toolbox: Biodiversity, Art, and Invention” through Dec. 2; “Extreme Mammals” through Jan. 6; and “Images of the Afterlife” through June 9.

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY: 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, (773) 684-1414: Exhibits include “Life in Space?” through Sept. 30, “Smart Home: Green + Wired” through Jan. 6 and “Science Storms.” The Omnimax Theater is showing “Tornado Alley” through Oct. 1 and “Born To Be Wild” through March 1. *** Free general admission to Illinois residents (with proof of address) is available every weekday in September. It’s a chance to experience permanent exhibits like “YOU! The Experience” as well as classics from “The Great Train Story” to the Baby Chick Hatchery and daily, live science demonstrations like the chemistry show “Bangs, Flashes and Fire.” Omnimax films, U-505 Submarine on-board tour, WOW! Tour, “Smart Home: Green + Wired” and Coal Mine are not included in general admission.

SHEDD AQUARIUM: 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, (312) 939-2438: The 10th annual Sea Otter Awareness Week See will feature the chance to see six of Shedd’s sea otters. In honor of Shedd’s furry friends, the first 100 guests to the aquarium from Sept. 23-29 will receive free general admission when they purchase their tickets at the aquarium. In addition, guests will get an inside look at the care of Shedd’s sea otters through habitat chats near the two-level exhibit in the Abbott Oceanarium. Tots will especially enjoy the otters at the underwater viewing area of the habitat in Polar Play Zone, a permanent exhibit just for kids. Visitors should stop by and see the newest otter, Cayucos, a rescued pup from California. Cayucos joined five adult otters that are native to Alaskan waters. *** Exhibits include “Jellies,” which has been extended through 2013, “Waters of the World,” “Caribbean Reef,” “Amazon Rising” and “Wild Reef.” Attractions include the Shedd’s aquatic show.

THEATER

“DEATHTRAP”: Tinley Park Performing Arts Center, 16801 S. 80th Ave., (708) 342-4200: The Tinley Park-Park District will present this show by Ira Levin at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 23. The Tony Award-nominated play from 1982 has many twists and turns and promises to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

A student of a great playwright has constructed such a great play that the playwright lures his student to his house to kill him and market the surefire script as his own. The Tinley Park Community Theater group will perform the two-act, five-character thriller. Tickets are $13 per person.

The play is directed by Mike Gandy, and the actors are as follows: Bob Szczepanski from Orland Park as Sidney Bruhl, Kristie Ansinn from Mokena as Andrea Clifford, Dana Grube from Chicago Ridge as Myra Bruhl, Laura Simos from Tinley Park as Helga Ten Dorp, and Leonard Wcislo from Hickory Hills as Porter Milgrin.

VARIETY

BACINEMA SCREENING OF “KNUCKLEBALL!”: Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago, (773) 445-3838: The weekly film series continues at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 with this movie. Not rated, this baseball documentary runs for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Tickets are $7.50, or $5.50 for center members.

BEER & BRATWURST NIGHT: Sgt. Means Park, 20712 Western Ave. (four blocks north of Lincoln Highway, or U.S. 30), Olympia Fields, (708) 481-7313: The Olympia Fields Park District will present this 21-and-older event from 6-9 p.m. Sept. 21 “Kick off Oktoberfest with a fun evening of good food and great drinks,” officials said. (Oktoberfest begins Sept. 22 in Germany and ends Oct. 7). “Our beer experts will teach you about the many varieties of beer you will taste,” officials said. The $15 fee will include tasting of six different beers. Additional tastings, beer by the glass and cases will be available for sale.

DINE OUT FOR NO KID HUNGRY: Participating restaurants, which can be found at DineOutForNoKidHungry.org: Every September, Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry brings together thousands of restaurants and their customers to raise funds for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Southland restaurants to choose from include Arby’s in Hickory Hills, Oak Lawn and Tinley Park; Corner Bakery Cafe in Oak Lawn and Orland Park; Denny’s in Calumet City, Hickory Hills, Oak Lawn and Mokena; Fuddruckers in Calumet City and Matteson; Public Landings Restaurant in Lockport; and Qdoba Mexican Grill in Oak Lawn and Orland Park. The funds raised through Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry support the campaign to end childhood hunger in the United States by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need every day, and the campaign’s work connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.

DUTCH FESTIVAL: Elim Christian Services, 13020 S. Central Ave., Palos Heights, (708) 389-0555: This day of fun for all ages is set for Sept. 22. The day will begin at 7:30 am with a home-cooked pannekoek (pancake) breakfast. From 8 a.m.-4 p.m., the Dutch Village shops will be open and offer Dutch pastries, crafts and gift items or the chance to sit and enjoy the all-day entertainment.

Dutch treats include oliebollen (Dutch doughnuts), poffertjes (mini pancake treats), rodekool (red cabbage), pea soup, pigs in a blanket, banket (pastry with almond filling) and hutspot (beef and potatoes). For those who would like more conventional foods, hamburgers, pizza by the slice, bratwurst, hot dogs, baked potatoes, pie slices, brownie sundaes, caramel apple delights, taco in a bag, popcorn, coffee and soft drinks will be available.

Children can experience a variety of entertainment including musical performances, face painting, clowns, petting zoos, magic shows and exotic animal shows. Someone might catch a glimpse of Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa Claus). Adults can enjoy the Christmas collectibles, delft, Dutch groceries, baked goods, farmers market and the wooden shoe carver along with entertainment such as singing and chair massages.

Admission is free. Also, free parking with shuttle bus service is provided. All proceeds will benefit Elim’s mission to equip children and adults with disabilities to achieve to their highest God-given potential. Elim pursues this mission by providing educational, vocational, therapeutic and residential services to more than 800 persons with developmental disabilities.

GOOD TIMES CHARLEY’S SINGLES DANCE: Glendora Banquets, 10225 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago Ridge, (708) 445-4450: Admission for this Sept. 21 event is $8, or $6 before 8:15 p.m. Those who bring a totally new single will receive free admission for himself or herself and the guest. Also, first-time guests may attend for no charge. There will be a door prize, DJ Fast Freddy and free snacks.

MORAVIAN DAY: Lithuanian World Center, 14911 127th St., Lemont, UnitedMoravianSocieties.org: This 73rd event will take place Sept. 23, with a Mass at 10 a.m. and a program featuring adult and children’s groups performing polka, waltz and modern dance at 2 p.m. Donation is $20 per person. A welcoming dance will take place at 8 p.m. Sept. 22 and feature the Vysosinca Band. Donation for the welcoming dance is $15.

OKTOBERFEST WEEKEND: Glenwoodie Golf Course, 19301 State St., Glenwood, (708) 206-3384 (Homewood Area Chamber of Commerce): Plenty of authentic German food, live music and imported beers will be served as the Homewood Area Chamber of Commerce partners with JRT Events, Glenwood Mayor Kerry Durkin and the village of Glenwood to present the inaugural Oktoberfest from noon-10 p.m. Sept. 22-23.

The indoor and outdoor event will include an option of economical dinner choices featuring such traditional favorites as homemade Wiener Schnitzel, a variety of homemade sausages and tasty side dishes. There will also be plenty of fresh bakery goods and desserts plus bratwurst sandwiches, hot pretzels and more. All food will be available for dining in or carry-out.

Old World cultural fun will include live entertainment starting at 5 p.m. each day and dinner served from open to close. There also will be games, raffles, prizes and a covered beer garden outdoors.

The family-friendly event is free to attend. Dinner ranges from $6-$12 for adults and $3-$6 for children. Costs on pastries and desserts vary per item. There also will be a cash bar for beverages.

PARK FOREST HISTORICAL SOCIETY ANNUAL MEETING AND PROGRAM: Park Forest Village Hall’s village board conference room, 350 Victory Drive, Park Forest, (708) 481-4252 (Jane Nicoll): This event will take place from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sept. 23. “History and Future of the 1950s Park Forest House Museum” will be presented by Jane Nicoll, museum director and archivist for the society. A business meeting will precede the program and feature reports from society officers and an election of the board by the membership. Refreshments will follow. The society is open to membership and the general public. Admission to this event, which makes the 14th anniversary of the museum, is free.

SAND RIDGE NATURE CENTER’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION AND ARCHAEOLOGY DAY FESTIVAL: 15890 Paxton Ave., South Holland, (708) 868-0606: Attendees can learn about historic Native American culture and celebrate the center’s milestone during this event from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 22. Local archaeologists will display extensive collections. There also will be storytelling, games, guided hikes, traditional craft making and more.

ST. MICHAEL PARISH’S FALL FEST: 14327 South Highland Ave., Orland Park, (708) 349-0903: This event continues Sept. 21 with Alumni Night at 4 p.m. with live entertainment featuring the Fine Print, Serendipity, and 7th Heaven; Sept. 22 with Date Night at noon with children’s tent activities and live entertainment featuring Young Johnny and Infinity; and Family Fun Day from noon-10 p.m. Sept. 23 with an afternoon pig and lamb roast, children’s tent activities and live entertainment featuring Reckless and the Neverly Brothers. There also will be an outdoor Mass on the Fall Fest grounds at 10:30 p.m. Sept. 23.

Food and drink will be from local favorites such as Palermos 95th, the Plush Horse, Blissful Banana Cafe and Kettle Kabin. There also will be the Man Cave with three big-screen televisions (to be raffled off) running the weekend’s popular sporting events; the Grand Raffle with a grand prize of $10,000; and a carnival produced by Windy City Amusements.

TEA WITH JANE AUSTEN: The Pickwick Society, 122 W. Kansas St., Frankfort, (815) 806-8140: This event will take place from 12:30-3 p.m. Sept. 23. “Miss Austen visits us once again. We are so excited to have her here once more,” officials said. “We celebrate her visit with a full tea and look forward to hearing her stories, memories and anecdotes. Enjoy tea with one of the most celebrated female authors of all time. Bring a friend and enjoy entertaining afternoon tea.” The cost for this event is $30.

Crowd Pleasers listings may be sent to jvirtusio@southtownstar.com with “Events” in the subject line. Items must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the desired Friday print date in order to be considered for publication.

More events can be found at the website for the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau, cscvb.com.



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