Five Points, Illinois Central College form partnership

Jeanette Kendall

Through a chance meeting, a partnership formed between the Illinois Central College Performing Arts Center and Five Points Washington.

Through the partnership, six performances will take place between the two places. The performance series will kick off with Ring of Fire, a tribute by Rusty Evans to Johnny Cash at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at Five Points.

Rather than viewing both performance centers as competitors, its managers talked last week about how the partnership will benefit them both.

“I had been thinking it would be nice to partner with Five Points for quite a while,” Stephen Stone, manager at the ICC Performing Arts Center, said.

Stone met Steve Brown, vice president of the Washington Community Center board, at the performing arts center when he attended an event there in 2007.

In talking with Brown, Stone learned of his affiliation with Five Points.

“We got on the conversation of how I’ve often thought of approaching Five Points to see if they wanted to partner on performance events. He said, ‘That would be an awesome idea.’ He was very proactive,” Stone said.

Brown, Stone and Marilyn Greaves, office manager of the Five Points foundation, met to brainstorm. This led to another meeting with Stone, Vikki Poorman, general manager at Five Points, and Brian Garnant, special events manager at Five Points, who discussed the line up for the performance series.

Originally, Stone said he chose very traditional acts, but said he was surprised to find that Garnant and Poorman were open to some more non-traditional performances.

“I was surprised that they liked some of the things I presented that were a little more adventurous,” Stone said.

Rusty Evans, a Rockabilly Hall of Famer, is one of the acts Stone considers adventurous. Evans is touted as having a voice like “rolling thunder and a spirit like gentle rain” when he presents his tribute to Johnny Cash.

To choose the performances for the partnership, Stone said he attended the Midwest Arts Conference in September. There, he spoke with hundreds of management agencies who represent the artists. Greaves also attended the conference.

Stone returned with boxes of promotional materials for various performers.

“I do an initial sifting, and we’re talking several hundred. I’ll find several hundred I think could fall into our season,” Stone said.

After Stone narrowed it down to 100, an advisory committee at ICC helped him narrow further.

The final line up includes music, dancing and comedy. In addition to Ring of Fire, the other acts are:

• Man 1, Bank 0, starring Patrick Combs. This is a comedic look at Combs’ real-life experience of depositing a contest entry check for $95,000 and the adventure that ensues. This performance is at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at the ICC Performing Arts Center.

• The Alley Cats at the Hop, America’s premier a capella doo-wop group performing a tribute to the greatest hits of the ’50s and ’60s at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at ICC Performing Arts Center.

• The World’s Longest-Running Phantom — Franc D’Ambrosio’s “Broadway,” at 7:30 p.m. March 13 at Five Points.

• Luna Negra Dance Theater, contemporary dance infused with the explosive energy of Latin and Afro-Caribbean forms, 7:30 p.m. April 24 at the ICC Performing Arts Center.

• Straighten Up and Fly Right — a tribute to Nat King Cole, 7:30 p.m. May 22 at the ICC Performing Arts Center.

Stone said the above acts are ones that he, Garnant and Poorman thought both of their audiences would really enjoy.

“One reason we’re doing this is to better present quality entertainment to our community at affordable prices,” Stone said.

Season tickets are $95 for all six performances and are now on sale. Individual shows are $24 for general admission, $16 for seniors and students and $20 for ICC employees.

Stone said the acts are titled as the 2009-10 Guest Artist Series for ICC’s Performing Arts Center.

“Ring of Fire” and “Broadway,” the two partnership acts, are very different, Stone said.

“It’s got its element of experimental. We’re trying to see what our audiences are. Five Points Washington is new really. At ICC, I think we’re in the middle of an evolution as far as what we present — changing times, changing tastes,” Stone said.

“Man 1, Bank 0,” Stone said, can be perceived as an act for a younger crowd. He added the show is “side-splitting.”

Rather than looking at the acts as age specific, Stone said, “I thought, ‘Wow, we have a great variety. We’ve got an awesome dance company, comedian, two tribute acts. Who couldn’t like this whole season?”

Special features of the Ring of Fire act include a guitar and accessory giveaway and a reception after the show. Those present at the performance will automatically be entered into the drawing.

For “Broadway,” Stone said there will be a “Call for Christine” and a “Call for Raoul,” an outreach and performance opportunity for one female and one male to be selected from local high school music students in the Tri-County area. The two students will perform “Phantom of the Opera” selections live with D’Ambrosio in his performance.

“This is a major opportunity for our community and young people in it who are aspiring vocalists,” Stone said. “I wish I could be one of those kids and have that chance.”

Those interested can submit at least one Broadway-style selection on CD or cassette to Stone at the ICC Performing Arts Center, 1 College Drive, East Peoria, IL 61611, by Dec. 31. Stone will send the entries to D’Ambrosio, who is going to do a master class where he will announce several finalists.

Stone said he was sold on the outreach program idea.

“Whenever’s there’s something like that that connects to our community, it’s so much more than a show,” Stone said.

Poorman said this will be Five Points first series.

“It’s old hat to Stephen, but new to us,” Poorman said.

The three managers said they are all excited about the partnership and would like to continue it in the future. Garnant said they will learn from each other in the joint venture.

To purchase tickets, call the ICC box office at 694-5136, or visit fivepoints.org.