The Village of Glencoe is celebrating its 150-year anniversary this year, and what better way to kick off the festivities than with a musical tribute mixing old songs with fresh lyrics to tell the story of Glencoe’s unique history?
After all, Glencoe is home to the nationally renowned Writers Theatre, a North Shore archi- tectural landmark that stages some of the Chicago area’s best theatrical productions.
“When the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee began discussing ways for the community to celebrate the Village’s 150th anniversary, there was never any doubt about Writers Theatre’s (WT) inclusion in that process,” says Karen Ettelson, chair of Glencoe’s Sesquicentennial Planning Committee.
After more than a year of preparation, village officials are thrilled to soon be raising the curtain on “I Love This Town: A Musical Tribute to Glencoe,” set to open at the Writers Theatre on March 18 with two, one-hour performances at 7:30 and 9 p.m. Penned by playwright Doug Frew (who also writes the script and musical score for Worldplay Gala, The Writers Theatre annual fundraising event) and inspired by Bon Jovi’s 2007 hit song, “I Love This Town,” the musical tribute will feature an eclectic blend of music set to a live, six-piece band led by Writers Theatre Musical Director Matt Deitchman.
The show’s cast will include a pool of professional actors and musicians who regularly participate in Writers Theatre productions.
“The broad range of music will speak to a variety of tastes,” explains Frew. “I chose songs that will help me tell a wide-ranging story of Glencoe’s history, cultural institutions, notable residents, ar- chitecture, and personality.”
“I Love This Town” covers the history of Glencoe from the first non-native settler, up through the present day, including the people and iconic places that make Glencoe unique.
“We are a small village that has had a big impact in many areas,” said Village Manager Phil Kiraly.
105 years ago, Glencoe became the first village in Illinois and the 13th village in the United States to establish a council-manager form of government.
The village later went on to lead the nation in consolidating its fire and police protection programs into a unified Department of Public Safety in 1954.
Home to the third largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures in the world, Glencoe is known for its deep-rooted traditions, including robust Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations.
“I think that one of the things that shows the most respect for tradition in Glencoe is the number of multi-generational families living here,” says Kiraly. “It speaks powerfully to the success of the customs and institutions in our village.”
The Village of Glencoe and the Glencoe Historical Society (GHS) began a partnership to plan sesquicentennial activities more than two years ago. Since then, they have collaborated with more than 30 different village organizations to lay out a year-long celebration that focuses on education, participation, and appreciation. Planners include a mix of professionals and volunteers.
“This group has been instrumental in helping to raise the funding to keep ticket prices low and accessible to the community as a whole,” adds Ettelson.
The musical tribute idea was born in brainstorming sessions with WT Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn Lipuma.
Originally planned as a one-performance production, village officials added a second performance after nearly all 250-seats in the WT’s Alexandra C. & John D. Nichols Theatre were spoken for—weeks in advance.
“I think what makes Glencoe such an extraordinary village is the wholehearted engagement of the people who live here,” says Frew. “It’s rare to find such a tight-knit, confident, and fun-loving group of neighbors. The pride in Glencoe is palpable.”
For more information, or to purchase tickets to “I Love This Town: A Musical Tribute to Glencoe,” visit writerstheatre.org.