I attended To Kill a Mockingbird the other night in Austin Gardens and was so happy to see over 200 people on a Thursday evening spellbound by Festival Theatre’s excellent production. Everything about the evening showed that the theater has continued its upward trajectory over the last dozen years. I was also pleased to see that the park district included a drawing in the program of a beautiful building that will take the place of “the barn” that had been the theater’s home base, storage and dressing rooms for 40 years, but was disintegrating.

It will be wonderful for audiences to have real bathrooms to use. I am hoping that one of Oak Park’s top tourist attractions will also be supported with improved dressing rooms that will help attract top talent and increased storage. At the early meetings about the project I attended several years back, we talked about how the building could serve a dual purpose well, since nature activities would take place during the day and the performances are at night. 

I am a bit concerned that it is being labeled simply as a nature center, but that may be a working title. I’m sure the park district is working with the theater as to their needs. As the programs says, I look forward to returning to enjoy the building at one of next year’s performances.

Oak Park and the park district are fortunate to have this unique cultural asset, which will now have an even higher profile. Congratulations to all.

Joyce Porter

Oak Park

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