Staerkel Planetarium and Parkland Theatre celebrate 25 years
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 17:10
Sheltered under Parkland’s “Walk of Honor,” the Parkland Cultural Center has a reason to celebrate this month.
The cultural center consists of the Staerkel Planetarium and Parkland Theatre. This October marks the 25-year anniversary of the opening of both the planetarium and the theatre.
In celebration of this event, Staerkel Planetarium is offering half-price admission to their regular shows for the month of October.
Parkland Theatre is also continuing to strive for excellence by working harder than ever to provide the public with entertaining plays and exciting new stories.
Many of the shows for the upcoming season are student-written works, and rely on audience reaction to decide their futures.
The Parkland Cultural Center first opened its doors to the public in October of 1987. The man, after whom the planetarium was named, William M. Staerkel, had a vision to bring together the community and provide a space for students to get involved with hands-on learning opportunities.
Planetarium Director Dave Leake explained why he believed the vision was coming to life.
Roughly 20,000 students under college-age have attended the shows and lectures at the planetarium, and many go back as college students already knowing what the planetarium is all about.
“School kids are commonly first introduced to the Planetarium when they are young. It’s neat to hear them when they come back for a class at Parkland and talk about the shows they’ve seen in the past,” Leake said.
In addition to half-priced admissions, the planetarium is also excited to announce many new developments and shows for the upcoming year.
Among them is the display of a meteor collection and an interactive and educational concert from educator and songwriter, Patricia Shih, on October 12.
The Parkland Theatre also has many new upcoming events in celebration of the 25th anniversary. The theatre, originally built to be a small classroom, auditorium and home for theatrical productions, has their focus on student-produced shows and an interactive experience for the audience, as well as high quality performances.
The production, “Merely Players” will be a retrospect of the past 25 years at the theatre. During the show, the audience is provided an onstage table with beverages and dessert to enjoy while watching the original murder mystery.
Parkland’s hospitality program will also take part in the performance off-stage, by providing a three-course dinner before the audience is moved to their reserved tables on Friday, Nov. 2.
The director and writer of this show, Stefani Senior, has been an integral part of the Theatre Department for the past year. She has helped out with assistant directing, onstage acting, and also backstage work.
“I’d like to pursue acting. There was never one specific time where I was like, ‘Yeah I definitely want to do this’, but it’s just been something I’ve always been into,” Senior explained. “Working in the theatre and taking classes here helps me, and gives me a lot of good experience.”
Both the theatre and planetarium are known for their high quality performances and shows.
The Planetarium is the only act like it in town, and the second largest in Illinois, trumped only by the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
According to Theatre Marketing Coordinator and Ticket Office Manager Dallas Street, the audience has also come to expect that high quality level of performance from the Parkland Theatre.
“The vision of Parkland’s first president, William M. Staerkel, was to provide a place for people to come out and get hands-on learning experience. I feel very strongly that this vision has been met,” Leake said.
Be sure to take part in this month-long anniversary celebration by attending one of these many exciting events. For more information about the upcoming theatre schedule, visit theatre.parkland.edu and for information about planetarium events, visit www2.parkland.edu/planetarium.