Lifestyle

RCLPC Theater Company works hard to give back

Ida, played by Stephanie Austin of Rolling Meadows; Arry, played by Shannon Mayall of Cary; and Thor, played by Steve Connell of Crystal Lake, discuss Carl’s disappearance in  a production of "Morning’s at Seven."
Ida, played by Stephanie Austin of Rolling Meadows; Arry, played by Shannon Mayall of Cary; and Thor, played by Steve Connell of Crystal Lake, discuss Carl’s disappearance in a production of "Morning’s at Seven."

With a theme of carpe diem this year, Right-Center-Left Production Company in Crystal Lake will present two plays to benefit three area nonprofits.

The seize-the-day theme might stem from the productions – “Morning’s at Seven” and “Present Laughter” – but it also is a fitting theme for the life of the man behind the shows.

Steve Connell of Crystal Lake set out five years ago to bring dinner theater to McHenry County while giving back. An actor in area theater for decades, he’d retired as a physics teacher at Larkin High School in Elgin.  

“That first year, I thought, ‘Well, let’s see what we can do,’” he said about creating the nonprofit RCLPC Theater Company and its “Eat, Play, Give!” initiative. “We just keep going, and it seems to work. I don’t know how long we’ll keep going, but so far, so good.”

Connell pays his cast and crew a stipend, drawing actors from the Chicago area and beyond. His wife, Amy, oversees the dinner portion of the theater company and helps with the props.

Performed at Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, where a crew transforms a fellowship hall into an elaborate set, the productions open Friday with “Morning’s at Seven.” 

Directed by Regina Belt-Daniels, the Paul Osborn play focuses on four aging sisters living in a small Midwestern town.

It takes place in the backyard of two neighboring houses where three of the sisters live. The fourth sister lives down the street. 

“I would call it a comedy drama, or dramedy, maybe,” said Connell, who is among the nine-person cast. 

The original Broadway production opened in 1939.

“We’ve put together one of the best casts we’ve ever had,” Connell said of the upcoming show. 

“Morning’s at Seven” will be performed July 12 to 14, 19 to 21 and 26 to 28 at the church, 8505 Church St., Crystal Lake. 

The July 12 to 14 productions will benefit Pioneer Center for Human
Services, a McHenry County-based nonprofit offering intellectual and developmental disability, homeless and youth and family services. 

The July 19 to 21 and July 26 to 28 productions will benefit Living Waters for the World. The ministry trains and equips mission teams to share sustainable clean water with communities in need around the world.

From Aug. 2-4, RCLPC Theater Company will partner with the Elgin-based Encore Theatre to produce “Present Laughter,” a Noel Coward comic play depicting the life of the successful and self-obsessed comedy actor Garry Essendine. 

The “Present Laughter” performances will benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates of McHenry County. CASA provides trained volunteers to be the voice for the child in the courtroom in cases of child abuse and neglect. 

Showtimes for all productions are 6:30 p.m. for dinner and shows on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. for dessert and shows on Sundays. Tickets cost $40 for Fridays and Saturdays and $30 for Sundays. They are available by visiting www.rclpctheater.com or calling 708-26-RCLPC.

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