Riverfront starts open run of Leaving Iowa Oct. 19 at Clock Tower

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Strong reviews and sold-out crowds in several different regional cities have brought the warm and wonderful family comedy Leaving Iowa to Rockford as the season-opening show from the Riverfront Theatre Company, the newest professional theater in the area.

The show has had fantastic response in several Midwest runs, playing to sold-out houses for extended runs in Madison, Wis., Milwaukee, Omaha, Neb., Dubuque, Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa, and Iowa City, Iowa, only recently closing in Minneapolis. Now, writer-director Tim Clue, who claims Rochelle as his family home, said he and his co-writer, Spike Manton, are thrilled to bring it to the Clock Tower Theatre for an extended open run.

“We’ve had sold-out houses in every theater and are looking forward to the same success in Rockford,” Clue said.

Leaving Iowa first found national footing at Jeff Daniels’ prestigious Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea, Mich., which produced the play to capacity houses and garnered Leaving Iowa a “2005 Best Play” nomination, along with unanimous glowing reviews. The show then enjoyed a critically-acclaimed, year-long run at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago, where Chris Jones from the Chicago Tribune said, “Leaving Iowa is a heartfelt, hilarious snapshot of true Americana. It’s a hit!”

Manton said he is committed to bringing this American comedy to communities looking for engaging family-friendly theater. “We wanted to create a story that a teen-ager and his grandparents could both relate to on different levels,” Manton said. “What better vehicle than the family road trips of our past?”

Clue said he is thrilled to be directing the latest and most improved version of the show in his own “back yard” of Rockford, and helping the new Riverfront Theatre Company start its inaugural season with a smash hit. He added, “The spark behind the play comes from parents that were members of the ‘Greatest Generation.’”

The story follows a Boston journalist, who returns to the family farm in Winterset, Iowa, three years after the passing of their father. He embarks on a journey to finally place his father’s ashes to rest, and along the way, encounters every rest area, historical mile marker, and tourist trap between a grocery store parking lot in Mount Union and, eventually, a hog farm in the alleged center of the United States. With moments as touching as they are funny, the warmth and humor of the Midwest unfold in scenes often told in flashback, depicting his memories of their father’s efforts to experience the perfect family vacation.

Riverfront Theatre Company announced their arrival on the regional theater scene with their Aug. 11 Splash! variety show, when they revealed the five productions in their 2007-2008 season. Leaving Iowa is the first, and it represents a new approach in the area: its Oct. 19 opening will be the beginning of an “open run.” It will offer five performances per week for as long as audiences are enjoying it, which, from records in previous cities, could be for several weeks or months.

Tickets and reservations are available at (815) 965-0400; or visit for more information.

from the Oct. 10, 2007, issue

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