CEDAR RAPIDS — “Noel the Musical” is a most lovely addition to the Christmas landscape — filled with enchantment swirling through the snow falling on the “invisible” homeless in a London park.
VenuWorks Theatricals, which sprang from a sleigh in Ames, is debuting this new tale of hope among the hopeless, and about 900 people of all ages received this gift Sunday afternoon at the Paramount Theatre. In return, they gave the cast a well-deserved standing ovation and cheer.
This isn’t your typical holiday tale. Love, faith and hope have to break through some pretty tough barriers and hardened hearts.
Young Noel isn’t nestled all snug in her bed, with visions of sugarplums dancing in her head. She’s hitting the streets to try to find the mother who disappeared six days ago. Just 12, Noel knows if the authorities find out she’s fending for herself, she’ll end up in an orphanage for Christmas.
In a park, she finds a community of homeless men and women battling their own demons, but with room in their lives to help keep Noel safe. They insist she check in with them twice daily as she goes about her quest.
The folks in the park get a helping hand, too, from a jaded man named Nick who outwardly bah-humbugs everything about Christmas, but gives them gifts they need, like a hat that just happens to be from a game that Edgar, a war veteran in a wheelchair, saw with his father in 1969.
Making matters worse, Noel has a solo in a televised Christmas play, for which her mother is making the costumes. Except, Noel bursts into tears whenever she tries to sing it, and the costumes aren’t finished, raising drama director Carnegie’s suspicions.
This show’s happy ending goes through a dark and winding path made brighter by Liam Bates’ delightful, winsome, soul-searching musical score. This Irish composer has worked with a who’s who of singers, arranging and conducting for Pete Townsend, Luciano Pavarotti, Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams, as well as composing and directing music for movies, including “Circle of Friends,” “Don Juan De Marco” and “Leap Year.”
The captivating story and lyrics come from the pen of fellow Irishman Eoin (pronounced Owen) Colfer, best-selling author of the “Artemis Fowl” series.
Rounding out the top-flight team are director Sam Scalamoni, director of the national tours of “Elf the Musical” and “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” around the world; and Broadway choreographer and dancer Charlie Sutton.
The technical team is equally stellar, creating a world of wonder, darkness and light, with two revolving platforms magically transforming into everything from Santa’s North Pole home to Noel’s home, the park and a community theater, all bedazzled by lighting effects and on-point costumes.
With that kind of star power behind the scenes, it’s no wonder the stars shine so brightly onstage. Jena Simmons, 11, from Jupiter, Fla., is utterly charming in the title role. When Noel finally dries her tears, Simmons belts out her big solo with all the gusto you’d expect from her previous professional star turn as “Annie.”
Tess Jonas brings the right mix of fantasy and caring to Duchess, the park dwellers’ own royalty. Once a maid, a nanny and a theatrical seamstress, she now is the kindly monarch for the homeless and for Noel. Her “Fairy Story Girl” solo near the end of the show is shattering.
David Johnson as her constant companion, the wounded veteran Edgar, is a powerful presence throughout, wringing out hearts and emotions in “Invisible,” lamenting the way people ignore the homeless, and in his plea for mercy and kindness near the finale. On the verge of being too preachy — and just when I feared his speech was going to launch into a treacly audience singalong — his tearful oration veered the play onto a more logical, palatable track.
A special nod goes to Todd Berkich, whose cranky Claus is really just a dispirited “delivery boy” for whom Christmas has become a burden too painful to bear. His huge, booming voice pierces the hardest heart in the woefully wrenching solo, “This Man.” In the end, the people Nick hopes to heal in the park heal his wounded heart.
READ REVIEW | BUY TICKETS
By DENISE M. BARAN–UNLAND
Agne G returns to the Rialto Square Theatre stage to headline concert
As many times as 16-year-old Agne Giedraityte has performed and competed vocally in the United States and Europe last eight years, she can’t help feeling nervous.
But when the Lithuanian-born Agne G, as she is known professionally, starts to sing, the emotion of the music makes all nervousness vanish. “When I sing, I feel whatever is written, all the emotions tied to the lyrics and the music,” Agne said. “It’s very freeing to be able to express myself through the music. I cannot put it into words. It’s euphoric, kind of, because it is so beautiful.”
Agne G, a classically trained soprano who’s performed at Carnegie Hall, appeared on NBC Television and spontaneously shared the stage with David Foster at Ravinia, will perform once again at the Rialto Square Theatre on Nov. 19 at “A Very Rialto Christmas,” the first of many holiday events the Rialto Square Theatre will offer this year.
“Again,” because Agne has performed on the Rialto stage several times, starting when she was 11 and competed twice in the former Rialto Idol Jr. competition. “I think the first time I sang ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’ and I got second place,” Agne of Downers Grove said. “And the second time I was 12 and I sang, ‘Time to Say Good-bye’ and I got first place.'”
Agne said she also sang with The Priests when the group performed at the Rialto. She will soon release her first Christmas album “Merry Christmas from my Heart.” She previously released “Dream – Never Let Go Of Your Dreams” and participated in the “Getting to Know You” collaboration CD by Tre Principesse. Agne currently takes lessons with Rachel Olsen, who also sings with the Chicago Symphony Choir, Agne said. Although Agne was always “a little shy,” Agne also loved singing and dancing from her earliest years. She began taking vocal lessons when she was 8 with a teacher from Lithuania. Six months into the lessons, the teacher recommended Agne start competing, so Agne did, Agne said.
“I got third place by the judge’s vote and first place by the audience vote,” Agne said. “It was really exciting for just starting out. It opened my eyes to what the possibilities could be.” She’s since won a number of singing competitions, including Baltic Voice 2013, The Sinfonetta Bel Canto’s competition, the International Music for Kids 2016 Competition in Romania and American Protégé, where Agne sang at Carnegie Hall in New York, according to a news release from the Rialto Square Theatre.
“That was a big milestone,” Agne said. “I think I was 13. Agne performs concerts throughout the year, with the holidays and the summer being her busy seasons. Her goal, naturally, is to make singing her full-time career.
But right now, Agne is still reveling at the unexpected opportunity to share the stage with David Foster at Ravinia in July. Agne said she was enjoying the concert when Foster suddenly asked if anyone would like to sing for 30 seconds.
Agne said she thought to herself, ‘Oh, my God, this is not happening!” and began waving her hands in the hair. She said Foster pointed at her, so she started to sing, “Time to Say Goodbye,” which is one of her most favorite songs to perform.
“He said, ‘Just a second. I know that song,'” Agne said. “He took me to the stage to sing with him while he played the piano. It was so amazing. I was trying not to cry.” Agne said attendees at the Nov. 19 event can expect a “nice Christmasy holiday experience.”
The event will include performances by the Cathedral Children’s Choir, the Joliet All City Choir, and special appearances by Michelle Gliottoni Rodriguez (soprano), Holly Keenon (violinist), and Kyle Minett (bass/baritone), according to the news release.
“I think this concert will be very personable,” Agne said. ” And warm and welcoming.”
WHAT: “A Very Rialto Christmas: A Family Concert Excperience”
WHEN: Nov. 19. Doors open 5:30 p.m., tree lighting 6 p.m.; organ concert 6:30 p.m.; concert 7 p.m.
WHERE: Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St. Joliet
TICKETS: $15 for adults and $12 for children 12 and under
More Info | Buy Tickets
Click Here to read original article by The Herald News
Joliet, IL (August 3, 2018) – Rialto Square Theatre and VenuWorks announced today the entire lineup for the annual holiday series at the Rialto Square Theatre, Home for the Holidays, generously sponsored by ComEd. This lineup of family-friendly shows includes classics titles, holiday traditions, well-known artists, and soon-to-be new holiday favorites. These shows will join the previously announced 98° at Christmas and The Tenors: Home for the Holidays. This exciting series begins on Monday, November 19th and concludes just a few days before Christmas, on December 20th.
A Very Rialto Christmas
A Family Concert Experience
Monday, November 19, 2018
Tree/Marquee Lighting 5:30 pm | Concert 7pm
Ticket prices: $15 adult | $10 children (12 and under) (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, August 10 @ 10am**
Kick off the holiday season with this very special family concert event that is sure to be one of your favorite holiday traditions. Former Rialto Idol Junior winner, Agne G returns to the Rialto Square stage where it all began to share her talents with the community.
Agne Giedraityte, known as Agne G, is a sixteen-year-old classical artist hailing from Chicago, Illinois. A rising talent in the classical community, Agne has performed across the United States and Europe, appeared on NBC Television, and even graced the stage of Carnegie Hall.
Agne has the pleasure to return to the Rialto Square Theatre in concert, just as in the past, where she appeared as a Rialto Idol contestant, as a guest artist on ‘The Ovation’ concert, and as well as a guest in 2015, joining the vocal group from Ireland, ‘The Priests’ in concert. Already an accomplished soprano at 16, Agne is recording her Christmas album Merry Christmas From My Heart which will be released in October 2018.
Opening the evening’s concert will be the angelic voices of the Cathedral Children’s Choir and Joliet All City Choir with special appearances by Michelle Gliottoni Rodriguez (soprano), Holly Keenon (violinist), and Kyle Minett (bass/baritone).
Don’t miss this official kick-off to the holiday season! Come early for the lighting of the marquee and the Rialto Square Christmas tree, sponsored by Busey Bank.
Hospice Lights of Love
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 | 5 pm
The Joliet Area Community Hospice Lights of Love tree lighting will take place on Wednesday, November 21 at 5 pm. The ceremony is a time to honor and remember family and friends during the holiday season. Contact Joliet Area Community Hospice for more information at 815.740.4104.
Teddy Bear Tea
Sponsored by ExxonMobil & Rialto Square Theatre Volunteers
Friday, November 23, 2018 | 9:30 am & 12:30 pm
Ticket prices: $25 adults | $22.50 children (12 and under) (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, August 17 @ 10am**
The Rialto Square Theatre holiday tradition continues. Young and old alike will enjoy this special brunch featuring delicious food and family fun complete with a special appearance by St. Nick himself and a keepsake teddy bear. A ticket is required for all in attendance and space will fill up quickly!
LEARN MORE (9:30AM)
LEARN MORE (12:30PM)
The Oak Ridge Boys
Christmas Celebration Tour
Sunday, November 25, 2018 | 7 pm
Ticket prices: $73.50 | $53.50 | $43.50 (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, August 22 @ 10am**
A mixture of traditional and contemporary songs—including religious, romantic and fun holiday tunes—makes up the set list, which includes songs from the Oaks’ seven bestselling Christmas CDs. A highlight of the evening is the much-loved ‘rocking chair’ segment where each BOY rocks by the fireplace and shares personal thoughts about Christmas.
Oaks’ lead singer, Duane Allen, says, “Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the positive things about the season…. the joy, happiness, giving, sharing, time with family, and gifts. The beautiful lights and decorations, and Christmas music.”
The Miracle Holiday and Hits Tour
Sponsored by First Midwest Bank
Thursday, November 29, 2018 | 7:30 pm
Ticket prices: $69.50 | $54.50 | $44.50 (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, August 10 @ 10am**
In a recording career that spans almost three decades and 23 albums, Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Kenny G has grafted elements of R&B, pop, and Latin to a jazz foundation solidifying his reputation as the premiere artist in contemporary jazz. Since the early ‘80s, his combination of unparalleled instrumental chops and indelible melodies has resulted in sales of more than 75 million records worldwide (45 million in the U.S. alone) and more than a dozen climbs to the top of Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart.
Career highlights include Miracles, a 1994 holiday album that took him to the top of the Billboard chart for the first time and has since become the best-selling holiday album of all time. His two holiday albums since then – Faith in 1999 and Wishes in 2002 – have been similarly successful. Come hear these holiday hits live!
Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet’s production of
Sunday, December 2 | 2 pm
Ticket prices: $38.50 | $30.50 | $22.50 children 12 and under (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, August 17 at 10 am**
This holiday favorite fairytale ballet is perfect for the entire family. The magical production features lavish costumes, exquisite sets, including a Christmas tree that grows before your eyes, and sensational choreography by ballet master, Kenneth von Heidecke. Journey through the land of whirling snowflakes and visit the kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy. This is one holiday tradition you won’t want to miss.
A Breathtaking New Musical from the author of Artemis Fowl
Tuesday, December 4 | 7 pm
Ticket prices: $48.50 | $38.50 | $33.50 (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, September 14 at 10 am**
NOËL is a stunning new holiday musical from top-selling children’s author Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl) and preeminent Irish film composer Liam Bates.
NOËL, set in modern day London, tells a heartwarming tale of a little girl (Noël), who is preparing for her starring role in a school Christmas play when her mother suddenly disappears. To avoid being taken into care, Noël keeps her mother’s disappearance a secret and embarks alone on a quest to find her. Along the way, she befriends a diverse group of characters that accompany on her journey. Noël’s bright innocence and unwavering belief in finding her mother, inspires her new friends to embrace life, find love and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
Holiday Luncheon & Organ Concert
Wednesday, December 5 | 11 am
Ticket prices: $15 (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, August 24 at 10 am**
Enjoy the sounds of the season and a delicious catered lunch in the Rialto Square Theatre rotunda while the Troy Middle School Choir serenades you. Then move into the theatre where members of the Joliet Area Theatre Organ Enthusiast Society will play your favorite holiday carols on the famous Barton Grand Theatre Pipe Organ.
A Magical Cirque Christmas
Sponsored by First Midwest Bank
Friday, December 7 | 8 pm
Ticket prices: $148.50 (VIP stage seating) | $73.50 | $53.50 | 43.50 (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, August 31 at 10 am**
A holiday entertainment blockbuster set to dazzle audiences of all ages. Featuring the best talent from around the globe, A Magical Cirque Christmas has it all – jaw-dropping magic, breathtaking circus acts, and the most angelic voices singing your favorite Christmas carols with incredible live musicians on stage. Be transported to the golden age of entertainment by the mind-blowing talents, stunning costumes, comedy and more.
It’s A Wonderful Life
Live Radio Broadcast
Saturday, December 8 | 7 pm
Ticket prices: $10 (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, August 31 at 10 am**
An annual holiday tradition at the Rialto Square Theatre– join WJOL for an evening you won’t forget, as local radio talents perform the Christmas classic, It’s A Wonderful Life live from the Rialto Stage, as it broadcasts on WJOL simultaneously. Year in and year out, this is always a highlight of the holiday season! All proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Rialto Square Theatre’s mission to bring the biggest and brightest talents to the Rialto Square stage.
American Legion Band Concert
Sunday, December 9 | 2 pm
Free (One ticket per one non-perishable food item donation)
The Joliet American Legion Band will bring the sounds of the season to life on the Rialto Square Theatre stage. Enriched in tradition, military sharpness and musical integrity, these musicians are delighted to bring you an unforgettable performance with their tremendously rousing musical spirit. A ticket is free in exchange for one non-perishable food item. Food donation/ticket exchange will be at time/dates to be determined.
Home for the Holidays: Christmas Classics & the Hits
Sponsored by First Midwest Bank
Friday, December 14 | 8 pm
Ticket prices: $200 (VIP) | $175 (VIP) | $73.50 | $53.50 | $43.50 (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, August 10 at 10am**
Multi-platinum, JUNO Award-winning vocal supergroup, The Tenors, comprised of Clifton Murray, Fraser Walters, and Victor Micallef, blend classical music and contemporary pop to deliver powerful performances and outstanding harmonies for audiences around the world. Since 2008, The Tenors have sold over 1 million albums worldwide, performed more than 1,000 shows on five continents and made over 200 television appearances.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s
Wild & Swingin’ Holiday Party!
Friday, December 15 | 8 pm
Ticket prices: $48.50 | $33.50 | $28.50 (additional fees may apply)
**Tickets On Sale Friday, September 7 @ 10am**
BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY’S WILD & SWINGIN’ HOLIDAY PARTY! is a jumpin’ and jivin’ extravaganza featuring one-of-a-kind originals and reworked Yuletide classics in true BBVD style, with an energetic performance to be enjoyed by all ages. In addition to seasonal favorites, the show will include fan favorites from the band’s rich catalogue.
Holiday selections include: “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth),” “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty The Snowman,” “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” “We Three Kings,” “Walking In A Winter Wonderland,” “Mr. Heatmiser,” “Blue Christmas,” “Is Zat You Santa Claus?” and others.
98° at Christmas
Thursday, December 20 | 7:30 pm
Ticket prices: $69.50 | $54.50 | $44.50 (additional fees may apply)
Tickets On Sale Now
Their four-million-selling album, 98° and Rising (1998, Motown), spawned the top-5 favorites “Because of You,” “I Do,” and “The Hardest Thing,” while 2000’s Revelation (Universal Records), which sold two million copies, peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200 and yielded a trio of hits, “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche),” “My Everything” and “The Way You Want Me To.”
Last year’s Christmas tour was in support of their first full-length Christmas album in 18 years, Let It Snow. The album received glowing reviews from both fans and critics alike. The album featured the group’s signature R&B-tinged, four-part harmonies and was a natural follow up to their 1999 multi-platinum selling This Christmas. In addition to their tour, they also performed on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Disney’s Magic Holiday Celebration, Good Morning America, Today Show, Kelly & Ryan and more.
2018 Holiday Movies
All tickets $5 | On Sale Friday, August 10th or at the door
The Polar Express | Rated G
Saturday, November 24 | 1 pm
An inspiring adventure based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.
Miracle on 34th Street | Not Rated
Friday, November 30 | 7 pm
In this Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle fills in for an intoxicated Santa in Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Kringle proves to be such a hit that he is soon appearing regularly at the chain’s main store in midtown Manhattan. When Kringle surprises customers and employees alike by claiming that he really is Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental health and, more importantly, his authenticity.
The Muppet Christmas Carol | Rated G
Sunday, December 16 | 3 pm
The Muppets perform the classic Dickens holiday tale, with Kermit the Frog playing Bob Cratchit, the put-upon clerk of stingy Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine). Other Muppets — Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear and Sam the Eagle — weave in and out of the story, while Scrooge receives visits from spirits of three Christmases — past, present, and future. They show him the error of his self-serving ways, but the miserable old man seems to be passed any hope of redemption and happiness.
To learn more about the entire Home for the Holidays Season, visit www.rialtosquare.com/holidays
Busey Bank will be sponsoring Rialto Square Theatre’s 2017 Home for the Holidays tree. The tree will be lit November 20, during the Celebrate the Season Social Event. Home for the Holidays features many events including concerts, movies and more.
“Busey Bank is honored to be part of this month-long holiday celebration that many Joliet area residents enjoy each year. With more than 150-years of community banking experience, Busey is excited to support the Rialto Square Theatre’s storied history and traditions” said Steve Randich of Busey Bank.
“The tree lighting has been a longstanding tradition in the Rialto Square Theatre’s Holiday program. This year, on November 20, we’re excited to have the official lighting of our 18’ holiday tree, sponsored by Busey Bank, signaling the beginning of the Holiday Season as well as a great future for Busey Bank, a more than 150-year old community banking institution, in our community,” said Val Devine Executive Director, Rialto Square Theatre.
Check our website for a complete schedule for times and ticket prices.
First Community Financial Bank, soon to be Busey Bank, is headquartered in Joliet, Illinois. Together with Busey, they have more than 60 locations across Illinois, Indianapolis, Missouri and Florida, including nine locations serving northern Illinois—Joliet, Plainfield, Homer Glen, Channahon, Naperville, Burr Ridge, Mazon, Braidwood, and Diamond.