Arts and Culture | WGLT

Arts and Culture

Charlie Schlenker

Do you remember playing with little plastic blocks when you were a kid? Building Lego houses, Lego forts, gardens with little figures and animals, kits of Star Wars ships made from Lego?

What if you could do that now? Some people have all the luck.

ISU Debuts New Military Affinity Group

Aug 18, 2016
Resolute Support Media DSC-7364 / Flickr via Creative Commons

Veterans and their families who have found a home at Illinois State University now have a new affinity group to connect and share a community.  The group is for faculty and staff and is set to debut this fall and is part of the University's diversity initiative.

ISU Horticulture Center Reveals Dark Side

Aug 16, 2016
Jordi Nll / Flickr via Creative Commons

Interesting things happens in nature once the sun goes down.  The Illinois State University Horticulture Center in Normal reveals the beauty of the nighttime landscape at a brand new event later this week.

Savas Beatie Publsihing

 Illinois author Gary W. Moore is mainly known for his non-fiction writing. In "Playing with the Enemy," he wrote about his father's experience teaching German prisoners of war to play baseball.

 Another book, "Hey Buddy," chronicled the 1959 plane crash that killed performers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. Moore now has written a novel that contain threads of a real life story. The Kankakee-born author will discuss his novel, "The Final Service," Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble in Bloomington.

Harold Gregor's Prairie Muse

Aug 9, 2016
Laura Kennedy / WGLT

The colorful and distinctive works of a much-admired central Illinois landscape painter are currently on view in an exhibition that highlights the various stages of his work, and reveals the stunningly different style in which he began his career.

Pilot Error

How can a plane just disappear? Investigators are still asking that question in the case of Malaysia Air 370.

But an earlier crash of Air France 447 has inspired an independent movie that is showing at the Normal Public Library this Saturday.

On September 16th, the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts marks a major milestone: the 10th anniversary of its first performance as the city's main venue for presenting national and international artists and shows.

In a far-ranging interview on GLT's Sound Ideas, executive director Tina Salamone looked forward to the season ahead and said the arts center enters its second decade in strong financial shape.

Pro Poker Player Isn't Bluffing About Success

Aug 3, 2016
Images Money / Flickr via Creative Commons

Twin Cities native Gordon Vayo is headed to the final table of The World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas.  A professional poker player, Vayo started playing in high school, first with friends, then going online to find greater challenges and an opportunity to up his game and hone his craft.

Anita Ritenour / Flickr via Creative Commons

As students head back to school later this month, they'll be studying the basics, like geometry and world history.  But increasingly, students are exposed to a relatively new field of study involving animals and humans.   Marion Willetts is a sociology professor at Illinois State University and teaches a class she designed called Animals in Society.  This class is a part of what Willetts calls an emerging subfield of social science.

David Gatewood-Cowart

Chicago has endured more than 2,000 shootings this year and a nearly 50 percent increase in homicides. Most of those shootings were gang-related. Some have taken the lives of children.

Springfield-born singer and actress Nattalyee Randall said she felt she couldn't just sit by. She picked up a pen and began writing a play. As someone who has worked in musical theater since childhood, Randall soon found herself writing songs to tell her story.

The Twin Cities outdoor musical theater season comes to a close this weekend with a quintessential show about adolescent angst.

Tony-winning "Bye Bye Birdie" is on stage through Sunday at  Bloomington's Miller Park.

The show opened on Broadway in 1960, a time when teens didn't "hook up," they "went steady." They telephoned instead of texting.

Director Tricia Stiller says despite many changes in culture, some things don't disappear, including the longings and insecurities of adolescence, the struggle to fit in, and clashes between teens and their parents.

Chicks Rule, Slimer Drools In Ghostbusters Reboot

Jul 22, 2016
Elliot Brown / Flickr via Creative Commons

A supernatural film comedy classic lives again in a reboot that's thrilled some and annoyed others.  When the Ghostbusters reboot was announced with an all female cast, a cry of foul arose from the internet as fans of the original film felt a reboot with women was akin to movie heresy. But GLT's culture critic, Shari Zeck has some advice for the outraged:  Chill out and enjoy.

On the east side of Bloomington the former Asia location has a new restaurant. Charlie Schlenker talks about Amavarati on Hershey Road with Larry Carius who writes about the Bloomington Normal Restaurant Scene on Facebook.

Comedy And Tragedy Take Centerstage In Opera Season

Jul 21, 2016
Alexandra Plattos / Midwest Institute of Opera

A classic children's fairy tale, nuns imperiled by the Reign of Terror and a jolly Shakespearean character with big appetites make up the 2016 season from the Midwest Institute of Opera. It kicks off on Monday, July 25 at the Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts.

Pre-Pan Soars In 'Peter and the Starcatcher'

Jul 19, 2016
Pete Guither / Illinois Shakespeare Festival

We all know the story of Peter Pan.  Or do we?  The Illinois Shakespeare Festival peels back the legend to reveal an imaginative and funny origin story for the iconic character. Adapted from the popular 2006 novel, 'Peter and the Starcatcher' was a huge hit on Broadway .  Director Any Park describes it as the 'Wicked' of the Peter Pan story, letting audiences in on how an orphan boy became Peter Pan. 

New Album Allows Drummer To Move To His Own Beat

Jul 18, 2016
Tom Marko

A popular local jazz musician and educator has just completed his first album -- and it's getting a release on a major label.  Drummer Tom Marko is ISU's jazz director and a busy area musician, working with a variety of jazz groups.  Now he's stepping into the spotlight with his first release as a leader: "Inner Light." 

To Be Or Not To Be -- A She

Jul 15, 2016
Pete Guither / Illinois Shakespeare Festival

The Illinois Shakespeare Festival is shaking things up this season with a production of "Hamlet" that features a gender switch.  Casting a woman to play the melancholy Dane can help the audience and actors alike see an old favorite in a new way.

It is indeed "a tale as old as time," as the title song says, one that reminds us that the beauty hidden inside a person is what's truly worth discovering.

That's the message Brett Cottone hopes audiences will take away from the Community Players Theatre new production of the Broadway musical, "Beauty and the Beast." Cottone is the president of the theater board.

Illinois Shakespeare Festival

The 2016 Illinois Shakespeare Festival is just getting underway, and for one stalwart performer, this season marks an even dozen times he's trod the boards at the theater at Ewing.  Actor Tom Quinn has portrayed a wide variety of characters, from a king to a musketeer.  So in honor of his twelfth season, which includes a turn as Feste in "Twelfth Night," Tom has pulled back the curtain to share twelve secrets of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.

McLean County Museum of History

There's a lot of talk this year about the anger of Americans who used to be middle class, those who feel insecure about their future and their society. Today we revive GLT's occasional series McHistory, with a look at a time in Bloomington Normal people were a lot more fearful and angry than they are now. It was the Great Depression and people who were accused of being socialists really were.

Illinois Chamber Music Festival

Starting this weekend, classical music lovers in central Illinois have their annual opportunity for three weeks of chamber music concerts at Illinois Wesleyan University.

This is the 14th annual Illinois Chamber Music Festival.

Creative Commons

Openings, closings, and changes are all part of the Bloomington Normal Restaurant Scene and are what Larry Carius writes about on Facebook. In this conversation with Charlie Schlenker, Carius starts by marking a couple anniversaries, the first one, on the west side of Bloomington.

Gallery Show Reveals A Touch Of Absurdity

Jun 30, 2016
University Galleries

Gigantic pneumatic sculptures splashed with DayGlo-colored paint fill two of the largest spaces at the University Galleries in Uptown Normal.  The installation creates a sensual landscape dominated by gigantic billowing forms.

On a trip to the west coast of Africa, Ama Oforiwaa Aduonum, a music professor at Illinois State University, was haunted by her visits to dungeons built by slave traders to house captives before shipping them off to America.

"Hello From Japan" Greets Children's Museum Visitors

Jun 24, 2016
Children's Discovery Museum

The Children's Discovery Museum in Uptown Normal has a new exhibit that combines the desire for faraway places with a staycation.  "Hello From Japan" opens Friday evening and gives visitors a chance to experience Japanese culture in an interactive exhibit that reveals the two sides of Japanese culture.

Eshan Singh

19-year-old Normal Community High grad Eshan Singh has been an active participant in community issues.  In 2015, he and more than 100 students walked out of class to protest the initial implementation of the PARCC exam in Unit-5 schools.   Singh has now turned his attention to the "Black Lives Matter" movement. This American of Indian descent said he recently spent a semester in Ghana during his "gap year" of college to discover the roots of what he characterizes as "Black Beauty" and "Black Power" in America.  That experience turned into a movie he titled "Blackness: A Beauty."

"I came to Africa with the idea that I could learn about the power of blackness in Africa.  But in the film I quickly discovered that wasn't true."

Don't Stop The Music: The Importance Of The Gay Bar

Jun 23, 2016
DSC04776 / Flickr via Creative Commons

The mass shooter in Orlando not only killed 49 people, he struck at the heart of a place that for many in the gay community means so much more than just a watering  hole or hang out.

Town of Normal

Van Leer's Broadview Mansion in Normal has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The property has been owned by the Immanuel Bible Foundation since 1949.

It's time once again for high school outdoor summer musicals.

This year's season at the Normal Parks and Recreation Department's Connie Link Amphitheatre is particularly family friendly. On the way next month is the stage version of "The Little Mermaid" and playing tonight through Sunday is a summer stock favorite based on Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" characters, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown."

Wikimedia Commons

A work of gothic genius hits the 200th anniversary of its genesis this weekend.  "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley was a fantastic creation that occurred not in a vacuum, but as part of a cultural force that stormed through the Romantic Era.