Plenty of Fox Valley venues offer high-quality theater, concerts and more

  • The Arcada is not only a St. Charles icon, it presents a variety of concerts, films and shows.

    The Arcada is not only a St. Charles icon, it presents a variety of concerts, films and shows. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Posted1/31/2020 6:00 AM

As much fun as it is to head into Chicago for a concert or a play, we've established long ago that it's probably not necessary, except for an exceptional Broadway-level type of experience or a megastar concert.

Otherwise, we have so much to choose from around here; it certainly lessens the need to make the commute into the city.


However, it can get confusing to consider what shows, or concerts in the Fox Valley would be fun to take in. We all have different tastes, of course, but the following would be my list of shows from area venues that fall under the category of "now, this would be kind of cool to see."

My intention is to remind you of the various venues and encourage you to look at their websites to see what they offer in the coming months.

First, we are always amazed at the variety of shows that pop up at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, but how cool is it that Johnny Rivers is coming for a 5 p.m. concert on Sunday, April 26?

We saw Graham Nash at the Arcada a few years ago and still rave about it, so you might be interested to know that Nash will play the Blizzard Theatre at Elgin Community College on Thursday, April 2.

The Hemmens in Elgin is a venue for concerts, plays and other productions.
  The Hemmens in Elgin is a venue for concerts, plays and other productions. - Rick West | Staff Photographer
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The Norris Cultural Arts Center and Baker Community Center in St. Charles are collaborating on shows now, bringing a whole new set called "Saturday Night Lights" at the Baker Community Center.

Two shows at Baker drew my attention, as local rockers will be happy to know that Dan Buck and "One of the Boyzz" will perform Saturday, April 4, and Joan Ellison will bring us back to the 1950s and '60s with a tribute to Judy Garland on Saturday, May 16.

For those who love community theater, the Fox Country Players are staging "Into the Woods" Friday, on the weekends of April 24 to 26 and May 1 to 3 at Waubonsee Community College.

Along those same lines, the quaint Steel Beam Theatre in downtown St. Charles has an interesting play on tap in "20th Century Blues" set for Feb. 21 through March 15.


Meanwhile, Batavia Fine Arts Centre at Batavia High School will be the site for "Carole's Kings," an all-male singer tribute to the famous songwriter at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 13.

One that fits in the category of "cool," takes place at Hemmens Auditorium in Elgin when it has the Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular on stage on at 8 p.m. Friday, April 10. It's what it says it is -- a laser light show set to Pink Floyd music.

The Paramount Theatre in Aurora is a great option for local theater.
The Paramount Theatre in Aurora is a great option for local theater. - Daiiy Herald File Photo

Finally, on a grander scale, we have the Paramount Theater in Aurora. In case you didn't know this, the Paramount consistently brings some of the most acclaimed shows in theater circles.

"Secret of My Success" is on stage there through the end of March, and Jay Leno is on tap for 8 p.m. Friday, April 17.

So, it's plain to see that a lot goes on in the valley. And I recommend keeping an eye on what happens at the Pheasant Run theater as it goes through a transition.

At the risk of sounding like a beatnik from the 1950s, these shows and venues pass the "cool" test.

A natural setting:

It seems that most everyone who attends St. Peter Church in Geneva is adjusting nicely to attending weekend services in the school gymnasium as the church undergoes a major renovation.

Considering how much time I've spent in a gymnasium most of my life, this change seemed like a natural fit. Years of playing basketball and then being a sports editor and continuing to cover games for many years, and coaching my son's teams when he was a youngster, would create an interesting math equation to determine how many hours I have been on or near basketball courts.

When it is a little crowded, sitting on bleachers for Mass is not the least bit uncomfortable. As for sitting in chairs on the gym floor, that's something I've done many times.

In the meantime, the parish anxiously awaits the dawn of its remodeled church, and I'll bid farewell to this particular gym until it is needed again for overflow services during a holiday.

Quite a course:

Even though my golf skills are nothing to boast about, I know when I've been lucky enough to play a special course. Such is the case with Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, the super-private course built by Jerry Rich.

Through media events, fundraisers and invitations from friends, I have played this 1,820-acre course about a half dozen times. It's a great experience to play a course you'd expect to see on TV than just west of the Tri-Cities.

The course has been on TV plenty in the past, and it will be again this spring as Rich Harvest Farms hosts the Big Ten Men's Golf Championship from May 1 to 3.

It's just another notch in the belt buckle of significant events held at this golf course. It has been the site of past NCAA Division I men's and women's finals, as well as Palmer Cup, Solheim Cup, Ryder Cup Captain's Challenge and Western Junior tournaments in the past.

Nostalgic Wok visit:

For years, one of my late mother-in-law's great joys was going to China Wok in Geneva for the lunch specials with her grandson. On occasion, I would join in.

As a bonus, she found it be a way to eat leftovers for at least another day.

With a bit of nostalgia and a desire for Chinese food, I recently stopped in at China Wok for the same thing I ordered years ago -- sweet and sour chicken with pork-fried rice and an eggroll.

There is something comforting about Chinese food, and this was again a good choice.

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