A trio of Chicago theater talents -- John Stoops (who has a long connection to the comedy scene), Tim Evans (executive director of Northlight Theatre), and Marc Grapey (the veteran actor) -- have joined to establish the new summertime Three Oaks Theater Festival, to be presented in association with Harbor Arts of Harbour Country, Michigan.
The festival's inaugural season will feature remounts of three shows previously produced in acclaimed Chicago productions, as well as a world premiere musical from Poi Dog Pondering. Here's a closer look at the lineup for the inaugural season:
± "THE SELFISH GIANT," a 45-minute work presented by Blair Thomas & Co. for one performance only (July 6), recommended for audiences of all ages. The creation of two Chicago theater icons--master puppeteer Blair Thomas and singer-songwriter Michael Smith--the show is based on an Oscar Wilde classic that tells the story of a grumpy old giant who forbids the children in his village from playing in his beautiful garden. After the children are locked out, the trees and flowers refuse to grow and the garden plunges into an eternal winter. Then one morning the children sneak back into the garden, bringing with them the joyous rebirth of spring. The show, commissioned by the Chicago Children's Theater, received its world premiere by that company in 2008. (Tickets are $15 and free for children 4 and under.)
± "THE GLASS MENAGERIE," a remount of the acclaimed Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. production, also for one performance only (July 20). This Tennessee Williams classic -- a memory play about a Depression era family -- is directed by Hans Fleischmann (who also plays Tom), and features an original score by Daniel Knox. Maggie Cain plays Amanda), with Joanne Dubach as Laura and Walter Briggs as the Gentleman Caller. (Tickets are $25.)
± "FAITH HEALER," a remount of the brilliant TurnAround Theatre revival of Irish playwright Brian Friel's haunting drama that unspools in four monologues. It is directed by J.R. Sullivan and will be presented for one performance only (July 27). Reprising their roles will be Si Osborne as Frank Hardy, the self-destructive title character, Lia D. Mortensen as Grace, his long suffering and adoring wife, and Brad Armacost as Teddy, the Cockney promoter who is devoted to them both. (Tickets are $25.)
± "Complicated," the world premiere workshop musical production, conceived and directed by Brigid Murphy, with music and lyrics by Frank Orrall and Poi Dog Pondering. The show (performed Aug. 3 only) will feature alternative rock legend Syd Straw, Frank Orrall and members of Poi Dog Pondering, as well as puppets by Chicago artist Cynthia Von Orthal. This theatrical hybrid -- part rock concert, part traditional book musical -- is a mythic journey "about home and your place in the world." (Tickets are $35.)
Three Oaks is a community within Harbor Country, Michigan that is rich in art galleries, restaurants and summer leisure activities, with a number of hotels, bed and breakfasts, family-friendly cabins and housing rentals available to tourists. It is about a 75- minute drive (depending on traffic) from Chicago.
Performances in the Three Oaks Festival will take place at The Acorn Theater, 107 Generations Drive in Three Oaks. Information and tickets will be available at www.threeoaksfestival.com beginning May 20. Tickets will be available online and at the Acorn Theater box office, or call (269) 756-3879.
The Acorn Theater, housed in a turn-of-the-century corset stay factory, was purchased by two Chicago residents who lovingly restored the abandoned building and chronicled on HGTV. In 2003, the building was re-opened as a 250-seat multi-disciplinary space used for professional performances and live theater.