Naperville Galleria—A Round Up of Naperville’s Growing Arts Scene

May 2016 View more

NMAG0516_FeatureGalleria_Feature_Galleria_DE_800pxTrying to feature all that the Naperville area offers to arts lovers in one article is harder than turning the entire works of Shakespeare into one play. Not only is there a cornucopia of events to watch and things to see, but a myriad of ways to get involved. In this area, the arts are not only a spectator sport. Here, we raise the curtain and set the scene as we shine the spotlight on some local favorites.

Serious violinist in female quartet.Concerts

Whether you want to hear your music outside on a summer’s evening, inside a Spanish style Art Deco theater, or a state-of-the-art concert hall, there’s something for everyone in the Naperville area.

In May 2005, theatrical entrepreneur Ron Onesti breathed new life into the Arcada Theater which has been a focal point of St. Charles since 1926. As a producer of spectacular entertainment experiences all over the country, Onesti’s corporation brought “Big City” shows to the western suburbs of Chicago. Now it’s the go-to-place if you want to see stars like Dionne Warwick, David Cassidy, or Loretta Lynn in a unique setting. Onestie invites his audiences to “Come feel the music you grew up with.”

North Central College has brought multiple concert and drama venues to Naperville. The first, Pfeiffer Hall is a grand venue with a large proscenium stage on East Chicago Avenue. Built before the start of the Great Depression, the auditorium has been a magnet for the arts in Chicago’s western suburbs for more than 85 years. With seating for over 1,000, it’s the place to see North Central College drama students in action as well as world class performers and speakers.

In 2008, North Central College opened Wentz Concert Hall which has since become a premier destination to appreciate classical, jazz, and contemporary music. It has also become the west suburban home of the Chicago Sinfonietta, and regular home of the DuPage Symphony Orchestra. Its first class acoustics have attracted musical giants from classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma to Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.

For those who enjoy outdoor concerts Central Park in Naperville is home to the Naperville Municipal Band every Thursday evening from June 9 to August 18. These free concerts attract up to 3,000 people every week.

Arranmore Arts hosts their Cabernet Cabaret concert series from June through September at the Arranmore Polo Grounds in Oswego, where visitors are encouraged to picnic while listening to everything from funk to the classics. The organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that fosters the creative spirit and builds communities by providing innovative, interactive, and inclusive educational programs and performances to children and adults.

NMAG0516_FeatureGalleria_iStock_000058225370_Large_800pxCommunity Theater

One of the great things about community theater is that everybody can get involved. This year The Summer Place celebrates their 50th Anniversary with three shows July 8 – 10, “50 Years of Musicals from Summer Place Theatre,” an original revue featuring many of the hit numbers by the same performers who originally sang them. “We often have moms or dads of our actors volunteer somehow. My daughter and I were in Fiddler on the Roof ten years ago. Now she’s a vocal director and we both sit on the Board,” said publicity chairman Don Gingold.

Magical Starlight Theatre, an audition based community theatre, brings together all ages working toward creating the best production possible.

“MST is an opportunity to serve side-by-side all ages and create quality entertainment for the whole family,” said board member and show director Kris Visher.

There is plenty to engage children with in the Naperville theater scene too. The Center Stage Theater on Quincy Avenue is home to Kidz Kabaret, the non-audition children’s theater group where every child gets their moment in the spotlight. The Naperville School of Performing Arts on Fifth Avenue celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. As well as teaching, they also hold regular performances for the public. BrightSide Theatre is Naperville’s only professional theatre performing in the historic downtown district. They perform comedies and inspirational stories from around the world.

NMAG0516_FeatureGalleria_iStock_000008668539_Medium_bw_800pxStage Shows

You don’t have to travel to Chicago for great theater, there are several venues in the Naperville area. The Paramount Theater in downtown Aurora and Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace offer year-round Broadway style shows bringing audiences great entertainment at affordable prices.

Built by the Paramount film studios as a venue for movies in 1931, the Paramount theater closed in 1976 for renovation following its sale to the Aurora Civic Center Authority, re-opening on April 19, 1978. Over the years dozens of famous performers have appeared there including Frank Sinatra. They consistently receive rave reviews for popular musicals.

Drury Lane is not only a theater but also a conference center. Often used for weddings and parties, you’re likely to see glamorous guests passing through during the intermission. Built by Tony DeSantis in 1984, it is named after the historic theater in London, England. The theater offers a wide range of popular musicals and occasional plays for all ages.

NMAG0516_FeatureGalleria_iStock_000018413621_Medium_800pxArt Galleries

You don’t actually have to go to a gallery to enjoy public art in downtown Naperville. Century Walk tells the city’s story with more than 40 pieces of art from sculptures to murals. However, if you are looking for galleries Naperville has those too.

The Schoenherr Gallery, located at the Wentz Concert Hall, exhibits work from students, traveling collections and guest artists. Exhibitions include sculptures, ceramics, drawings, watercolors, paintings, photography and more.

The Naperville Art League holds regular exhibitions at their home on N. Center Street as well as the popular Riverwalk Art Fair in September.

“We have been operating for over 40 years and many Naperville residents are unaware of our presence,” said executive director Debbie Venezia. “We are trying to raise our visibility because we really have something special here including a beautiful gallery for art exhibits, a multi-functional classroom for a wide variety of art classes, a gift area featuring the work of our artists and an open door inviting the community to discover the power of the local art scene.”