Performers bring 'edutainment' to parents in Lombard

Education combined with entertainment Tuesday in a Lombard banquet hall, but unlike most “edutainment” audiences, the crowd wasn't made up of kids.

Instead, it was parent-teacher association members, teachers and library staffers attending, looking for the best performers to bring to their gymnasiums, multipurpose rooms and stages.

“A lot of the people that are coming have never seen these performers,” said Lloyd Bachrach, founder of Premier Showcase, the group that put on the event.

About 150 people attended the event at Carlisle Banquets, visiting booths of 92 performers and watching 35 of them take the stage for seven-minute excerpts of bubble-blowing, ethnic music and motivational speeches.

“We're trying to go around and see what looks different,” said Patty Cavanagh, a parent looking for assemblies for St. Petronille Catholic School in Glen Ellyn. “We only get four performances in our budget, so we're trying to make them the most powerful ones.”

Performers attend Premier Showcase because they know it's a good way for school assembly organizers to choose from hundreds of local and national performers, said Andrea Salloum, artistic director for Chicago-based Kidworks Touring Theatre Co.

“This is a good opportunity for them to learn about the different programs that are educational,” she said.

Some suburban performers, such as Brian Wismer Entertainment, Inc., and Dr. Cool And Pride, both of Deerfield, said the showcase event helps them book performances at local schools.

“It's really valuable,” said Jeff Bizar, who runs Dr. Cool And Pride and has performed at suburban schools, including Anne Sullivan and Betsy Ross elementary schools in Prospect Heights. “I booked a show today for Nov. 14. This is just what generates most of our leads.”

People in attendance saw performers whose acts ranged from Abraham Lincoln impersonators to ventriloquists to promoters of Internet safety.

Browsing the booths often in groups of two, parents such as Karen Lankisch and Carey Peterson, members of the parent-teacher association for Brookdale Elementary School in Naperville, looked for shows that promote character, or music, or physical fitness. “We're trying to find something that's educational,” Peterson said. “Something that's going to bring meaning to the kids.”

  Educational performer Trent Arterberry uses puppetry and mime in his act, which he presented to teachers and parents Tuesday in Lombard. Mark Black/
  Darren Sardelli of Laugh-A-Lot Poetry gives a seven-minute skit for teachers and parents Tuesday in Lombard. Mark Black/
  Teachers and parents watch educational performers display their talents Tuesday at the Premier Showcase in Lombard. Mark Black/