Arts festival helps reboot area theater

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Discover area theater and help it thrive during a day’s worth of entertainment Sunday on the Woodstock Square.

In its second year, Sunday in the Square on Stage will feature family-oriented activities and shows with musicians, bands, magicians, face-painting, a storyteller, games, theater performances, tie-dye crafts and more from noon to 8 p.m.

TownSquare Players first hosted the event last year as a way to start its season and raise money for the nonprofit group, which has struggled the past few years.

“We’re doing better than we were before, but we’d like to do more than we are, more for for the community,” said Betsy Stemple, president of TownSquare Players. “We’d like to be a little more extravagant on our shows, with set productions and costumes. I think we’re doing really well with the resources we have now, but I’d like to be better.”

Along with servicing as a fundraiser – those who attend are asked to donate $10 a person, although no one will be turned away – the event brings together McHenry County’s theater groups, including the Richmond-based Theater Undreground and Woodstock Musical Theatre Company.

These groups and more need all the exposure they can get, Stemple said, and the festival provides a way to spread the word to the public.

“You have so many treasurers of performers and groups in your county,” she said. “Here they are. We invite these people. We don’t chage for performances. We treat them like royalty.”

TownSquare Players, which puts on two shows a year nestled in between musicals performed by the Woodstock Musical Theatre Company at the Woodstock Opera House, will perform skits from previous productions, such as “The Wedding Singer” and its Phoenix Workshop production of “Sitting at the Kids Table.”

Theater Undreground will showcase imrov both from its adults and its new children’s improv program, Theater Uppreground. And the Woodstock Musical Theatre Company will offer a sneak peak at its upcoming production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” along with a look back at last spring’s “Annie.”

Along with the theater groups performing songs, scenes and improv, musical acts include folk/pop soloists Sandie Kindschy and Suzanne Schwartz, classic rock guitarist Jim Martin, the Encore Music Academy String Ensemble and Crystal Lake’s Voices in Harmony, among others.

Bands will take to the bandshell at 4:30 p.m. beginning with the winner of Turning Point’s Battle of the Bands competition the day before, followed by hard rock/indie trio White Radio at 5:45 p.m. and The Ian Hall Band playing old-fashioned rock and roll at 7 p.m.

The nearby Liquid Blues will provide corn on the cob and other food, and local “celebrities,” including Northwest Herald Entertainment Editor Jami Kunzer, will serve as targets in a pie-throwing competition.

“Our eventual goal is to make enough from these fundraisers that we can start giving grants to other theater companies,” Stemple said. “We really want to promote all the arts.”

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