Friday, August 14, 2009

Yes Rocco, there is theatre in Peoria

This morning I got a very nice comment from Kathy Chitwood, executive director of the Eastlight Theatre in Peoria, Ill. (Okay, to be honest, it's more like a statement than a comment and I don't think I'm the only one who received it. But I do appreciate being included!)

Anyway, after reading a New York Times interview with Rocco Landesman, in which the new chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts questioned whether there was theatre in Peoria and if so, whether it was any good, she graciously invited him to visit:

"In response to Mr. Landesman’s NY Times interview, Suzette Boulais, executive director of ArtsPartners, and I extended invitations to the new NEA chairman to visit Peoria to attend a production at Eastlight Theatre (one of Peoria's theatres).

He immediately responded by e-mail his gratitude for the invitation and that he will come. Tuesday afternoon on his first day in office, I received a call from Mr. Landesman confirming that he is excited about visiting our community to experience our arts scene.

Our goal is for Peoria to represent all of the smaller communities in the nation that are doing worthy and worthwhile work in the arts.

In homage to the ‘The Beer Summit’, we are lovingly calling this visit, ‘The Lemonade Stand’…not because that is what we drink, but because that is what we do in Peoria – we take lemons and turn them into lemonade."

I agree with Ms. Chitwood - communities of every size across the country are doing worthwhile work in the arts. And wouldn't it be great if The Lemonade Stand attracted as much attention as The Beer Summit?

By the way, if you're in the area, you've got two more chances - tonight and tomorrow night - to check out Eastlight's production of Rent. Here's what the Peoria Journal Star had to say: "Rent is a challenging and perceptive musical, and Eastlight's production a breath of much-needed fresh air."

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