By Jim Hagerty
It seems fitting for the 16th J.R. Sullivan’s Hometown Holiday, the show Sullivan created and directs, to be held on the stage now bearing his name.
Sullivan presented the popular music and theater holiday show from 1994 to 2008. A staple during the holiday season, the show was not held in 2009 when Sullivan left Rockford to become the artistic director of the Pearl Theatre Company in New York City.
Since arriving in New York, the New American Theater, the home of Hometown Holiday, became known as the Sullivan Center. Sullivan founded the theater in 1972 and headed the venue for 22 years.
New American Theater closed in 2006, leaving a future that teetered from bleak to unknown until a new management group, led by Richard Nordlof, was able to keep the popular downtown attraction going.
Meanwhile, the decision to put production of J.R. Sullivan’s Hometown Holiday on hold was a difficult one. The director said he made the choice to end the show’s 15-year run to get a head start on his new responsibilities in New York.
“It was important to make the shift to the new job,” Sullivan said. “I figured 15 years was a great run, and we had some wonderful times.”
Back in Rockford, the show’s absence created a significant void for those who made it part of their holiday tradition for more than a decade. The amount of interest to revive the three-day production prompted some long-distance planning that Sullivan said he welcomed with open arms, especially to give back to the city he calls his hometown.
“There was a great outpouring from supporters,” he said. “So, with that, I said, ‘If I can arrange things to make it happen, I will return to make a 16th production possible.’”
While the 2010 production will follow a familiar format, it will be anything but old-hat. Sullivan said audiences will be in for a variety of numbers that span several genres of theater and music.
“It’s going to be a great show,” Sullivan said. “You’ll hear funk, blues, country, some jazz and touch of classical music. It will be a full evening of variety with an intimate feeling to it. It allows friends to come together during the holidays.”
Performances of J.R. Sullivan’s Hometown Holiday are scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10-11, and 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12.
All seats are reserved and can be purchased at select Charlotte’s Web outlets: both Postal Shoppe locations: Edgebrook Center, (815) 397-7301, and 2205 S. Perryville, (815) 484-0940; and JustGoods, 201 Seventh St., (815) 965-8903; or visit the Coronado Box office, 314 N. Main St. Call (815) 968-0595 for location and hours.
Credit card payment accepted only via Coronado Performing Arts Center Box office: In person at 314 N. Main St.; by phone at (815) 968-0595; or online at CoronadoPAC.org.
The Sullivan Center is at 118 N. Main St., downtown Rockford.
From the Dec. 8-14, 2010 issue