June 10, 2010One of the biggest names in show business will grace the stage of the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet in the coming months, highlighting a season that's stuffed with top-notch entertainment.
"I'm really pleased with the lineup we've got this year," said Rialto general manager Randy Green. "I think it's one of the strongest lineups we've had in quite awhile."
Tickets for the Rialto's 2010-11 season go on sale at 9 a.m. June 18.
Singing legend and Academy Award winner Liza Minnelli performs a benefit concert for the Rialto on Oct. 29.
"I think it's one of those shows people probably did not expect to see at the Rialto, and that's what makes this show, and this season, special, because it is one of those unexpected opportunities," he said of the show. "When you look at the names people probably put at the top of the great entertainers list, you have the Tony Bennetts, the Frank Sinatras, the Sammy Davis Jr.'s. I don't think you need to go too far down that list before you hit Liza Minnelli."
The concert is a culmination to the capital campaign the Rialto quietly undertook five years ago.
"It really does create a great exclamation point having her here, topping off the campaign in putting over $5 million back into theater," he said.
The monies raised in the campaign have gone into "knocking off 25 years of wear and tear," he said.
The ornamental plaster work has been cleaned, the dressing room restored, the sound system upgraded, exit doors replaced, new windows and carpet installed and the Barton Grand organ repaired.
In October, the theater will unveil a hospitality suite.
Old and new
Green says they tried to bring back crowd favorites, and bring some new acts to the Rialto for the first time.
"It's a way for our audiences to see new and upcoming entertainers, and find out about a program they're not too familiar with now, but they will be very soon," he said. "Like, they may be familiar with Bill Engvall, but not with John Pinette, who's opening for him."
Another fan favorite, Beatles tribute band American English, will perform Oct. 15.
"This year we changed it up a little," Green said. "We're also going to feature the first Rialto Idol, Misti Kohl. She's going to open up for American English."
The Rialto Idol singing contest was a part of last year's Festival of Trees.
"It's a great way to recognize her talent and focus some light on a Rialto event that started last year," he said.
Another older act that's changing things up is Ian Anderson, frontman for the 1970s progressive rock band Jethro Tull. The renowned flutist will perform a stripped-down show of older Tull material Oct. 30.
"Jethro Tull fans will have a great opportunity to experience Ian Anderson in a little bit different way," he said.
Country music giant George Jones brings the swagger Nov. 6, and comedian Lisa Lampanelli returns after making her Rialto debut 18 months ago.
"A guy who is not a stranger to people who grew up in the era of rock 'n' roll is Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits," Green said. "It's a show for people who cut their teeth on rock 'n' roll. It will be a fun night at the Rialto of people reliving their past."
Another great singer of the past who will appear April 8 is singer Dionne Warwick.
"I saw her show in January and was thrilled at how great she sounded," he said. "That was the show I was really looking forward to bringing to the Rialto."
The Rialto Entertainment Series of shows includes the always popular "Late Nite Catechism" dinner theater on Oct. 9.
There's also the Rialto Bridal Expo on Jan. 23 hosted again by Adrianne Curry. The Joliet native and cycle 1 winner of "America's Next Top Model" had "so much fun" hosting the Bridal Expo, Green said, that she was thrilled to come back.
"Then we have event I'm really excited about, as we're approaching the 85th year of its existence, as we go back to Vaudeville and the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, and the top entertainers of that era," he said. "There's a show out (that was) presented in markets this winter: 'An Evening with Lucille Ball: Thanks for Asking.'"
The show is created and performed by Suzanne LaRusch, and was written by LaRusch and Lucille Ball's daughter, Lucie Arnaz.
The popular Broadway at the Rialto package, now in its fifth year, includes shows like "A Chorus Line," "Grease," "The Wizard of Oz," "The Color Purple," and — hang onto your hats — "Monty Python's Spamalot."
"Anybody that's a fan of Monty Python … will really appreciate that style of comedy," he said. "I'm really looking forward to that one. I'm very proud and excited of this lineup. It's one of the best years you'll see in terms of the quality of shows coming to the Rialto."
Back for a third year will be the ComEd Festival of Trees on Nov. 22-28. For many years, Cornerstone Services produced the Festival of Trees and held it at the Louis Joliet Westfield Mall. The festival was defunct for a few years, and then ComEd and the Rialto began staging it in 2008.
"The first year was about bringing something back and providing people with a re-introduction to it," he said. "Then it was about cutting out those things that didn't have as great an appeal. The first year we did a sing-along Messiah — it was a great musical evening, but it didn't draw as well. The Rialto Idol replaced it last year … and that brought a great crowd."
The Festival of Trees includes the traditional Opening Night Gala and the Teddy Bear Tea, as well as the new Festival of the Vine wine tasting event.
Green warns that as packed as the season appears to be, "by no means is this the complete schedule."
"We've got at least four more shows we're going to announce in the next five to six months," he said. "Stay tuned. We're not done yet."
Aug. 21: The Kings of Rock & Roll; $68; $58; $48; $38; $28
Sept. 10: Bill Engvall & John Pinette; $43.75
Sept. 26: Gabriel Iglesias; $37
Oct. 5: Willie Nelson & Family; $95, $75, $65, $50, $40
Oct. 9: Late Nite Catechism Dinner Theatre; $58; show only $33
Oct. 15: American English: The Complete Beatles Tribute with special guest 2009 Rialto Idol winner Misti Kohl; $45; $35; $30
Oct. 22: Canadian Celtic Great Big Sea; $58; $38; $28; $23
Oct. 29: Liza Minnelli — A Benefit Concert for the Rialto Square Theatre; $300 (includes Liza meet & greet; complimentary cocktails & hors d oeuvres); $175 (includes post concert reception; complimentary cocktails & dessert); $85; $65; $55
Oct. 30: An Evening With Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson; $75, $65, $55, $45, $35
Nov. 4: A Chorus Line; $52; $42; $22
Nov. 6: George Jones; $75; $55; $45; $40; $35
Nov. 11: 4Troops; $27.50
Nov. 22-28: ComEd Festival of Trees; general admission unless otherwise noted
Nov. 22: ComEd Festival of Trees Opening Night Gala; $50
Nov. 23: ComEd Festival of Trees Holiday Lunch Break; advance tickets $10; day of lunch $15
Nov. 23: ComEd Festival of Trees Festival of the Vine; $25
Nov. 24: Joliet Area Community Hospice Lights of Love; free with purchase of $10 ornament
Nov. 26: ComEd Festival of Trees Teddy Bear Tea; adults $20; children 12 and under $15
Nov. 27: ComEd Festival of Trees Rialto Idol; $10
Nov. 28: Von Heidecke's Chicago Festival Ballet "The Nutcracker;" $38, $30, children 12 & under $20.50
Dec. 4: Lisa Lampanelli; $42.75
Dec. 6: "Grease;" $52; $42
Dec. 10: "It's A Wonderful Life" live radio broadcast; $10
Jan. 23: Bridal Expo 2011 at the Rialto Square Theatre Hosted by Adrianne Curry; $10 in advance; $15 day of event
March 7: "Wizard of Oz;" $52; $42; $22
March 12: Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone; $55; $40; $35; $25
March 17: "The Color Purple;" $52; $42; $22
March 24: Show TBA at www.rialtosquare.com on Aug. 2
April 8: Dionne Warwick; $88; $59; $49; $39
April 30: Organ Extravaganza XV – Classic Big Band and Big Band Jazz; $30
May 6: An Evening With Lucille Ball: "Thank You For Asking"; $50, $42, $32, $23
May 16: Monty Python's Spamalot; $52; $42; $22