Posted on: September 30, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

After 18 months of silence, the Dorothy Menker Theater at Moraine Valley Community College finally had its grand reopening on Sept. 25.

“We have had many people come up and tell us how excited they were to finally be back,” Thomas Hensel, the managing director of Moraine Valley’s theater, said.

The season opener was “Vitaly: An Evening of Wonders.” Vitaly is a master illusionist who is known for his talent with magic. Forbes Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and Penn & Teller all have commented on how wonderful his performance is. Vitaly mixes art and illusion to illustrate different types of stories to the audience. The performance is interactive and takes the audience on a magical journey.

The opening was significant for Moraine’s Fine and Performing Arts Center. In March 2020, the Dorothy Menker theater was told to shut down and cancel the rest of its season. Hensel thought it would open in late summer but that didn’t happen. The theater had signed 18 contracts with professional performances that Hensel had to figure out how to schedule for the future. 

“We were finally able to create a schedule for this season and even a couple of dates as far out as the fall of 2022 and were able to honor all of the contracts,” he said.

Hensel was excited about the season opener since it was the first one since COVID hit, but nervous about the health mandates in place at the theater. The audience members all had to wear masks and take a health screening.

“I had no idea how audiences would react to the health screenings, the mask requirement, or the social distancing,” Hensel said. “I was happily surprised that we have no complaints! Everyone was thrilled to be back in a theater for a live performance.”

Hensel was pleased with the turnout, as 173 audience members came for the season opener.

Vitaly is just the start of FPAC’s 2021-2022 season. The Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre performs Oct. 9. Tony-Award-winning actor/dancer/singer Ben Vereen will take the audience on a “contemporary and timeless journey through the Broadway songbook” on Oct. 16.

Other events this semester include “Fire and Rain” on Oct. 23, “Songs for Syria” on Nov. 20 and “Christmas in Killarney” on Dec. 11.

More information on upcoming events can be found in FPAC’s official brochure.