Arts, Community, Live Music, Live Theater, Local, Park Forest, Theater

Live, In-Person Events Return to Governors State University Center for Performing Arts this Fall

Karen Clark Sheard will appear at the GSU Center for Performing Arts
Karen Clark Sheard will appear at the GSU Center for Performing Arts. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

University Park, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Following an unusual season of streaming concerts, plays, opera, and dance productions directly to patrons’ homes, Governors State University’s Center for Performing Arts (the Center) will return to in-person, live events this October.

“Safety is very important to us. This season may look a bit different; with new arrival and dismissal procedures, added safety protocols, and more touchless transactions. Yet, the experience of live connection will feel familiar and joyful,” says the Center’s Executive Director Lana Rogachevskaya, “The Center for Performing Arts’ staff look forward to returning to what we do best: bringing together artists and audiences to share diverse voices and stories that connect and inspire our community. We cannot wait for this reunion. The pandemic has illuminated the importance of shared human connection. While we have worked hard to maintain a virtual connection to our community over the past year and a half, we are anxious and excited to once again be together. To hear the buzz of the audience and their fading murmurs as the house lights dim, the curtain rises, and our shared journey on stage begins.”

Since its opening in December of 1995, the Center has provided the GSU and south suburban community with world-class entertainment and educational enlightenment. The Center will continue its 25th Anniversary celebration with an eclectic season of programming. Features include the international, critically acclaimed Momix, the dancer-illusionist company that elevates the human form to heights of inventive artistry as well as socially relevant dramas such as Mike Wiley’s Breach of Peace: Stories of the Freedom Riders of 1961, and 12 Angry Jurorpresented by GSU’s own Theatre and Performance Studies. From Grammy-Award-winning vocalist Karen Clark Sheard paying tribute to Aretha Franklin, to Emmy-Award-winning artist Orbert Davis and his Chicago Jazz Philharmonic showcasing jazz legends and up-and-coming musicians, the season celebrates the magic of live performance.

Viva Momix Forever. Photo by John Kane.
Viva Momix Forever. Photo by John Kane.

The 2021-22 Season opens October 10 with Opera Up Close: Viva La Zarzuela! Featuring Ensemble Español. Opera Up Close Series curator and Lyric Opera tenor John Concepcion will host an afternoon of operatic songs from the Iberian Peninsula to Latin America. In addition to outstanding vocal performances, two dancers from Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater (in residence at Northeastern Illinois University) will perform.  Seated on stage with the performers, only 130 audience members will have the opportunity to experience the awesome power of the unamplified human voice.

In November, the Southland Area Theater Ensemble (SLATE) returns to the Center’s stage with a global event celebrating theatre: All Together Now! This joyous musical revue features songs from Music Theatre International’s beloved authors from iconic musicals including CompanyRagtimeLes MisérablesSister ActWaitressRent, and more. In February, the tributes to Broadway continue with the GSU Dance Company looking back at 25 Years of Broadway and Beyond… showcasing original dance routines inspired by Broadway’s most groundbreaking choreographers.

Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic returns with Forward Momentum on November 20. This cross-generational concert features award-winning vocalist Maggie Brown and her sister Africa paying tribute to their legendary father Oscar Brown Jr., as well as a tribute to the late, great Freddie Hubbard from GSU honorary degree recipient and Emmy-Award-winning composer and trumpeter Orbert Davis. In addition, GSU alumni saxophonists Mwata Bowden (MA ’79) and Justin Smith (BA ’18) share the stage.

Families can celebrate the holidays with Lightwire Theater’s production of A Very Electric Christmas on December 11. Featured as semi-finalists on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, Lightwire combines performance, puppetry, dance, and modern light technology to bring stories to life in complete darkness. A free STEAM workshop with Santa and Lightwire artists is included.

In January 2022, Momix: known internationally for works of exceptional inventiveness and physical beauty, will transport audiences to a fantasy world of magical lighting and imagery, athletic dance, astonishing acrobatics, outrageous costumes, and inventive props. In celebration of Momix’s 35th Anniversary, Viva Momix Forever will present favorites from all six Momix shows plus four new pieces.

The celebration continues in March 2022 with A Tribute to Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul conceived by musician, vocalist, composer, and Franklin’s mentee: Damien Sneed. Backed by a cast of jazz, gospel, and soul musicians, Gospel music legend and four-time Grammy-Award winner Karen Clark Sheard will lend her signature, multi-octave voice.

The Center for Performing Arts thanks our generous partners, funders, and individual contributors, including The National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Midwest, First Midwest Bank, WDCB 90.9 fm, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

All tickets for 2021-22 shows are now on sale.

For more information, ticket prices, and preview videos, visit