Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- “The Stevie Wonder Experience” presented by the Wonderlove cover band, will open the 2023-2024 Freedom Hall Nathan Manilow Theatre schedule on Saturday, October 21, at 7:30 p.m.
Park Forest Cultural Arts Supervisor Victor Blackful says this season’s new schedule features twelve musical acts and includes a mix of soul, rock, blues, and Broadway favorites designed to appeal to all ages.
Ticket sales for all performances begin in early September. They are easy to obtain: call Freedom Hall, in person at the Freedom Hall box office, or online. More details about the online option as well as ticket prices will appear on the Freedom Hall website. Blackful noted that patrons will find the new online option much easier to use than it was last season.
Blackful made a few changes to the performance schedule this year. Attendance at the Tuesday matinees was very low after the pandemic. Consequently, there are only two Tuesday matinees scheduled this season. The first is “Johnny Mathis Christmas” on December 19. The other is “Best of Broadway – Featuring Nancy Hays” on April 9. Both shows start at 11 a.m.
Performances Move to Saturday Evenings
Another change patrons will notice is that, with one exception, performances will be on Saturday evenings instead of Fridays. Blackful hopes the change will relieve some of the stress of attending a show after having worked all day and picking up kids from school.
The Friends of Freedom Hall is a new ushering program introduced this year. Assistant Cultural Arts Supervisor Shelley Strasser said volunteer ushers will work at each performance. They will assist guests in finding their seats or other needs.
While not yet confirmed, Blackful and Strasser hope to have wine sales available to patrons before the shows. None of the shows has an intermission.
A brief rundown of this year’s line-up follows:
Wonderlove – The Stevie Wonder Experience
The tribute band will be performing many of Stevie Wonders’ greatest hits on Saturday, October 21 at 7:30 p.m., and again at 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 22. A promotional video of the group is available here:
An American Prayer – Jim Morrison & The Doors Experience
Rock fans can hear An American Prayer cover some of The Doors’ greatest hits on Saturday, November 11 at 7:30 p.m. The Doors were one of the greatest rock bands of the late sixties with hits such as “Light My Fire,” People Are Strange,” and “Riders on the Storm.”
Candlelight Jazz – Music of Grover Washington, Jr.
On Saturday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m., the music of saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. will perform by Candlelight Jazz. Washington was a jazz-funk and soul-jazz artist who performed with such stars as Bill Withers and Patti LaBelle. Throughout his short career, he won multiple R&B Grammy Awards before his untimely death in 1990 at age 56.
Masters of Soul
The Masters of Soul returns to the Freedom Hall Stage with three performances: Friday and Saturday, December 8-9 at 7:30 p.m., and again on Sunday, December 10 at 3 p.m. With tributes to such groups as the Supremes, the Temptations, and the Four Tops, the Masters of Soul has been a local favorite with multiple sold-out performances at Freedom Hall in previous years.
Johnny Mathis Christmas
Freedom Hall’s Christmas performance occurs on Tuesday, December 19 at 11 a.m. featuring vocalist David Robbins’ tribute to the Grammy Hall of Fame artist. Throughout his long career, Mathis released over 200 singles including some of his biggest hits, “Chances Are,’ “Misty,” and “It’s Not for Me to Say.” A video of Robbins performing Mathis’ “Wonderful, Wonderful” is available here:
Melody Angel – Chicago Rock & Blues
Southside artist Melody Angel makes her Freedom Hall debut on Saturday, February 3 at 7:30 p.m. The gifted guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist opened the Chicago Blues Festival in 2022. To hear Angel’s amazing talent, check out the videos on her website.
Big Suit – Tribute to Talking Heads
The music of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees is covered by Big Suit on Saturday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m. Big Suit is comprised of nine musicians who perform an amazing replication of the original group. Talking Heads was part of the New York punk music scene beginning in the mid-’70s with hits such as “Psycho Killer” featuring lead singer David Byrne. A promotional video of a Big Suit performance can be seen here.
Hollywood Swinging – Tribute to Kool & The Gang
With hits such as “Celebration” and “Jungle Boogie,” Kool and the Gang has been an R&B and soul mainstay since they began performing. Hollywood Swinging covers the group’s music from the ‘70s through the ‘80s and will perform on Saturday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. Their website includes a promotional video that can be found here.
Terisa Griffin – The Songbird of Soul
Terisa Griffin will be making her Freedom Hall debut on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. A contestant on The Voice in 2012, Griffin performs a wide range of genres including R&B, soul, jazz, gospel, and contemporary music. She recently performed at the Matteson Memorial Day Concert. Additional information about Griffin, including music videos, can be found on her website.
The Lotus Kings – An All-Star Tribute to Santana
A 2022 Main Street Nights performer, The Lotus Kings will present their Santana cover tribute on Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. Formed by guitarist Carlos Santana, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group rose to fame in the late 1960s and 1970s with a combination of rock and Latin American jazz. Their major hits include “Oye Como Va,” “Black Magic Woman,” and “Evil Ways.”
Best of Broadway – Featuring Nancy Hays
A veteran of musicals in Chicago and across the country, Nancy Hays returns to Freedom Hall with “Best of Broadway,” a matinee performance on Tuesday, April 9 at 11 a.m. A singer, dancer, and actor, Hays has toured extensively playing such roles as Judy Garland in “Judy & Liza London Palladium Tribute.”
Better Together – Chicago Jazz, Blues, & Soul
Returning from past performances at Freedom Hall and Main Street Nights, Jo Ann Daugherty and the talented Better Together musicians will appear on Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. Always a favorite, the group will be performing classic jazz, blues, and soul music. Their April 2023 performance sold out quickly, so patrons are encouraged to secure their tickets early.
Freedom Hall is located at 410 Lakewood Boulevard in Park Forest. The box office number is 708-747-0580. The 2023-2024 Freedom Hall flyer is shown below.