Circle Theatre wins Jeff Award

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Circle Theatre, formerly of Oak Park and even more formerly of Forest Park, has won the top Non-Equity Jeff Award for its production of "When the Rain Stops Falling." The honor was announced Monday night in the 40th annual Jeff Awards ceremony, according to Hedy Weiss, the Sun-Times theater critic.
While Circle has since departed Oak Park's Madison Street Theatre for a new life as an itinerant theater troupe in the city, we're going to claim some credit for the award since the show was first mounted while Circle was still Oak Park-based.
Weiss describes the play as "Australian playwright Andrew Bovell's dark, deeply troubling, multi-generational saga that crosses continents, and travels back and forth in time from 1959 to 2039."
The show was later produced by Circle at the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago.
Circle began as a storefront theater in Forest Park nearly 30 years ago. When it lost its lease on its funky space on Madison Street in Forest Park it moved for two years into the Madison Street Theatre, formerly Village Players. Rather than undertake a major capital campaign to establish a permanent home in Oak Park, the company chose instead to stage its shows in various Chicago theaters.

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Reader Comments

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Dutch Elm  

Posted: June 11th, 2013 12:32 PM

Oak Park and MST blew it: From The July 20, 2010 Forest Park Review: "Circle Theater has been an integral part of the success of Madison Street and we are hopeful that they will be able to renegotiate a satisfactory lease and remain in Forest Park," Laurie Kokenes, executive director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and Development, told the Review on Tuesday morning. In an interview with the Review in December, Kokenes had praised Circle Theatre as a vital part of Forest Park's rebirt

Village Voice  

Posted: June 6th, 2013 12:55 PM

It's sad, live theater and Rebozo were the two reasons I had for heading to Madison St. Honestly, it's departure is one less reason to consider Oak Park for either live entertainment or dining. Circle was as good an anchor for Madison as we had, and we let it slip away in favor of the latest 'grand scheme'.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 6th, 2013 12:09 PM

Galen - not schooled on the Plan Commission involvement in the Circle Theater exit, but I do recall attending a board meeting when a director from Circle Theater approached the board using the "comments" 3 minutes. He got about twenty with plenty of board discussion. His proposal was to use TIF money to buy the entire building and expand the theater to include rehearsal space, a dancing school, offices, etc. His appearance could not have happened on a worse night. The gallery was full of people riled by the state of Madison Ave, the runout of the Tif funding, and the Madison Avenue Diet. The proposal was good, but it required a huge chunk of the remaining Tif funds. The theaters location -- the already refurbished west end of Madison did not sit well with the gallery either. The Circle Theater refurbishment ended that night as far as the public was concerned.

Galen Gockel from OP  

Posted: June 6th, 2013 11:22 AM

1. If our Plan Commission was an obstacle to Circle Theatre's move into Oak Park, that requires further investigation. Presumably there would be minutes of their meeting(s). 2. I fear that the Arts Council (OPAAC) is not an advocate for arts organizations; their funding is welcome but otherwise they are on the sidelines. Their staff is small, but their board should become a public advocate.

Mary Redmon from Willow Springs  

Posted: June 6th, 2013 9:40 AM

Dear Sir: I am compelled to point out to you that while Oak Park made consistent overtures to Circle to move there after the habitual flooding of our space in Forest Park, the plan to incorporate Circle Theatre into a TIFF space on Lake Street was held up by the Oak Park zoning board, and the rental for the 1010 Madison space become untenable, with no input or help from OPAAC. Circle is a loss to the Oak Park Community, and the Jeff Award for Best Play is one indication .

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