Theater Review: Riverfront makes a Splash at Clock Tower

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Riverfront Theatre Company initiated its first season with a fund-raiser at the Clock Tower Resort Aug. 11. The evening of music and comedy was directed by Bill Beard and followed the format of his youth programs at Mendelssohn.

Joining the talented young people were some old friends from Chuck Hoenes’ long-running theater also at the Clock Tower. Doug and Jill Beardsley have brought dance to many audiences, and their numbers exhibited a level of professionalism unique in our community.

Jerry and Kathy Stevens’ songs from Phantom thrilled the audience, and Scott and Nancy Chachula, another talented couple, provided some moments of comedy with “The Tennis Song” from City of Angels and Nancy’s “The Shape of Things” from The Littlest Revue. Janet Bracken, Marissa Swanson, Kyle Adams and Amanda Jensen added their talent to the evening, and Adams and Jensen’s “The Song Goes Like This” from Spamalot was hilarious.

Eric Uppling emceed the program, and his tribute to the emerging stars was absolutely appropriate. Sophia Araoz, Ryan Bernsten, Michael Neumann, Brian Patterson, Emily Rasmann and Emily Rogers have years of experience in spite of their youth, and Riverfront gives them the opportunity to exhibit their gifts.

Mark Kann, president of the board of directors, spoke to the audience emphasizing the need for funds to continue their project. An essential part of the plan is a theater education program, Riverfront Youth Outreach Program. Classes have already begun in some local schools with great success.

An exciting moment arrived with Kann’s announcement of future plans. The season begins at the Clock Tower with the popular Leaving Iowa. The creation of playwright Tim Clue, a young man from Rochelle, it is the story of a family road trip and the complications that arise. Originally staged in Michigan, it has played nearly a year at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago and is running in Minneapolis. The playwright has agreed to direct the production with an open-ended run.

This is a real coup for Riverfront. More about the upcoming season later.

Congratulations to all involved in an exciting new cultural experience for our town.

from the Aug 15-21, 2007, issue

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