It is not every Chicago-based director who will take time out to travel west and end up near the Mississippi River every summer.
But this veteran of the Chicago theater scene does. He is Chuck Smith and that place is Timber Lake Playhouse (TLP), located in Mt. Carroll, IL.
Timber Lake Playhouse has been delighting audiences for over 50 years in Mt. Carroll and provides that theatrical experience for area residents in northwestern Illinois and eastern Iowa.
It is a place where up-and-coming actors go for summer stock, while others return for the love of the place. And, yes, even a few stars have once called the place home for a while. Even their press information indicates that "the theatre has served as a launching pad for theatre artists of all kinds who have gone on to excellence in film, television, on Broadway and stages all over the world."
Smith, an Emmy and Jeff Award winner, will be back at TLP for his 11th summer, as director of "Working: The Musical."
Again, his 11th summer in Mt. Carroll must mean something, not only to him, but also to TLP. After all, his resume is deep. Smith is one of the Goodman Theatre's resident directors and an associate producer of Legacy Productions, a Chicago-based touring company. Meanwhile, among his directing credits include projects at ETA, Black Ensemble Theater, Northlight Theater, MPAACT, Congo Square Theatre Company, The New Regal Theater, Kuumba Theatre Company, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and Pegasus Players. He also was involved in the Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix and the New York premiere of "The Hooch" at the New Federal Theatre.
"Working: The Musical" will be staged from June 21-30 at the playhouse. It is based on "Working" by Studs Terkel.
The play: "The hopes, dreams, joys and concerns of the average working American are the focus of this unique, extraordinary musical. That the everyday lives of "common" men and women should be so compelling and moving will surprise and inspire anyone who has ever punched a time clock. Based on Terkel’s best-selling book of interviews with American workers, 'Working' paints a vivid portrait of the men and women the world so often takes for granted: the schoolteacher, the waitress, the millworker, the mason, the trucker, the firefighter or the housewife. It’s an uplifting and highly original look at the American landscape that’s simply impossible to forget."
More on Smith from his Goodman Theatre bio: He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay "Crime of Innocence" and was theatrical director for the Emmy Award-winning "Fast Break to Glory" and the Emmy Award-nominated "The Martin Luther King Suite." He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff Award-nominated Suspenders and the Jeff Award-winning musical "Po’".
Also, his Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of "Race," "The Good Negro," "Proof" and "The Story"; the world premieres of "By the Music of the Spheres" and "The Gift Horse"; James Baldwin’s "The Amen Corner"; Lorraine Hansberry’s "A Raisin in the Sun"; Pearl Cleage’s "Blues for an Alabama Sky" and August Wilson’s "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom."
And that's not all. He truly is deep in the theater world and he will be in Mt. Carroll in June.
By the way, TLP is the oldest continuously operating professional summer theatre in Illinois.
For more information, call (815) 244-2035.
* I placed this in a blog because of its narrow nature. But, in case people are in the area and want to escape, this may be the place. By the way, the town which houses "American Pickers" is not that far.