Circle Theatre moving to Chicago
Laura Savage (Hope) works her way to the front of the Public Amenity line as Creg Sclavi (Bobby Strong) checks her in during a preview performance of "Urinetown" at Circule Theatre in September 2011. The theater company is moving to Chicago. | Sun-Times
Updated: December 30, 2012 6:16AM
OAK PARK — A theater company that’s called Forest Park and Oak Park home for almost 30 years sees heading east as its next step.
Bob Knuth, producing director and board president for Circle Theatre, said the non-equity volunteer group is moving to Chicago, where it will use various spaces for rehearsals and performances as a roaming theater group.
“You know, it’s bittersweet,” Knuth said. He called Circle Theatre’s time in Forest Park and Oak Park a large part of who the group is.
Circle Theatre will wrap up its last production at 1010 Madison St., “Pippin: A Bollywood Spectacular,” at the end of December, when the lease expires. Previews will begin for “When the Rain Stops Falling” Jan. 16 at the Greenhouse Theatre Center in Chicago.
The group appreciates the support it has received from the local communities over the years, Knuth said, but being based in Chicago offers the opportunity to boost exposure and ticket sales, and attracts a broader talent base for the company to work with.
Circle Theatre, almost 28 years old, was established and based in Forest Park for more than two decades before moving to a rented space at 1010 Madison St. in Oak Park two years ago.
Kevin Bellie, Circle Theatre’s former artistic director, said that space was just an interim location and the group knew it wouldn’t stay long.
In Forest Park and Oak Park, Circle Theatre built a reputation and business model on having its own space, Knuth said. Now, the group will rent spaces throughout Chicago where rehearsals and performances will take place.
“You know, we see challenges ahead,” he said.
But in Chicago, locations the group will rent are established theater spaces, whereas the Madison Street space wasn’t designed for theater renters, Bellie said.
“Going to a place that’s very used to having theater there is a great thing,” he said.
Bellie said he hopes local residents and other patrons who live in the Western suburbs will continue to support Circle Theatre, and see coming to Chicago for a show as a special occasion.
Knuth said they hope to set up an office in Chicago soon, and he’d like to see the group rent a storefront in the next six months.
The group’s youth program will remain in Oak Park, though a location has not yet been finalized, Bellie said.
Jon Landvick, who has been with Circle Theatre about five years, has become the group’s new artistic director. Bellie, who spent 10 years in the role, is taking a leave of absence and will return to Circle Theatre as a company member.