Category Archives: downtown

Stop The Press – Stories About The Rep

The Janus Theatre Summer Rep has been getting a lot of print.

Everywhere you look both shows are getting stories. Here’s a piece from the Daily Herald about why we started the Rep.

Apparently, it had been on our minds for a long time.

Decade-old dream realized for Janus founders

Dream of two shows realized for Janus founders

August 10, 2011

By Jack Helbig

When Terry Domschke co-founded Janus Theatre with Sean Hargadon 10 years ago, they dreamed of running two full-length shows at once in what is called rotating repertory.

They would travel to Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival, featuring a dozen or more shows running in repertory, and talk of doing something similar — if far less comprehensive — back home.

Domschke, a retired Elgin Community College theater professor, just wanted to put on two shows at once, and this summer he finally gets his chance with both Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” sharing the stage on a rotating basis in Elgin.

“I love seeing a couple of shows at a time by the same theater.” Domschke explains.

Janus Theatre has grown in fits and starts over the years. It has also called a number of spots home including a coffee shop in Arlington Heights,

a public park in Arlington Heights and a brew pub in Elgin until setting down roots at the Elgin Art Showcase.

“We have had our ups and downs,” Domschke admits.

Last year, Hargad
this summer.on suggested to Domschke that it was time to try out their rep idea and settled on

“I said immediately I wanted to do ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’” Domschke says. “He wanted to do a Shakespeare, ‘Twelfth Night.’ They are both plays about mistaken identities and they contrast well.”

They are also both popular plays in the public domain, meaning Janus would not have to pay royalties.

“At first we were going to combine the casts for both plays,” Domschke explains. “But the rehearsal time was so short. So there is no crossover between the casts.”

Both “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “Twelfth Night” are oft-produced chestnuts of the theater world. Oddly enough, however, Domschke had never directed “Earnest” before. That didn’t stop him from giving the story his own twist.

“I transposed the action to the early 1920s,” Domschke says. “Putting the play in the ’20s gives me more freedom to make the play more bouncy and active.”

The change gave the women characters more freedom — and less restrictive costumes — than they would have had with the original 19th century staging.

Plus, the change allowed Domschke to do what he loves best as a director: “developing a world vision through the play.”

“I enjoy developing a play,” he says, “so you create a whole world on the stage.”

For the complete story with photos, go to


One Two Punch – Twelfth Night Finishes Opening Weekend

We had Wilde. Then we had Shakespeare.

We just finished the opening weekend to Twelfth Night by Shakespeare and everything went fantastic. The actors, set, lighting and sound all came together for a memorable weekend.

Following the strong performances of The Importance of Being Earnest during the first week, this was a wonderful opportunity to add to the acting chops already on display during our Rep series at the Elgin Art Showcase.

What can I say? This is one strong acting company. From the leads to the supporting roles, everyone has shined throughout the process and delivered some wonderful work. Now both shows will start alternating nights, which is where the real fun begins. But first, we need an audience.

That’s right. I said it. Audience. Sure, we’ve had people come out and see the work, but when you start seeing more empty chairs than people, it starts to wear on you.

Sometimes I am surprised to find that the arts destination that is Elgin is regrettably lacking in support of the artists. Sure, this is a longer run than one weekend and we know that the classics are not everyone’s cup of tea, but still, attention should be paid when a modest theater company tackles something so large.

Well, westward ho, as the saying goes. Here are some pics from Twelfth Night, courtesy of John Congram.  Makes you want to call the Box Office right now – 847-841-1713. Doesn’t it?

Chris Bibby as Sir Toby and Justin Schaller as Sir Andrew


Liz Vanderhoof as Viola

Joe Hoover as Malvolio


Ross Patrick Frawley as Orsino


Kate Donoghue as Olivia and Tyler Thompson as Feste


Page To Stage Another Play

Here’s a nice piece by Daily Herald writer Jaime Greco about the latest installment from the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission Page To Stage series, featuring a stage reading of a new play – Broken Glass – by Chris Bibby.

This is the first play written Bibby and it features Janus members Catie Early, Sean Hargadon, Lori Holm and Steve Macarus. Should be an interesting weekend filled with lively discussion. The event is free. Check out the story below.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001 caused people to consider many things; Christopher Bibby, author of the play “Broken Glass,” was no different.

“I started studying the events which had political motivations, but at the time I was looking at the religious underpinnings and the fact that we have so many minorities in the U.S.,” Bibby said. “And I began to wonder if people with fundamentally different religious views could ever live in peace, or is it inevitable that we destroy each other?”

The Hoffman Estates resident chose to examine these questions through the lens of another horrific chapter of world history: the Holocaust. “I wanted to write a play about the small decisions that happened before the Holocaust,” he said. “I wanted to write about how did we get here. Why did it happen?”

“I just got to thinking, these were people like me and you, how could they do this?”

The play examines the relationship between two friends — Martin Hottl, a Catholic cobbler and Jozef Pac’zynski, a Jewish shopkeeper — during the time of Kristallnacht, the titular beginning of the Nazi’s campaign against the Jews.

“Kristallnacht,” which means Night of Broken Glass, took place in Nazi Germany and parts of Austria in 1938 when SS Storm troopers and civilian mobs attacked Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues with sledgehammers, causing the streets to be full of broken glass.

As director, Robert Pahl was responsible for casting all of the roles, a task he was more than prepared to carry out.

“I’ve been in theater in this town for a long time, so I’m familiar with the talent pool here,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have access to some of the better actors around.”

Pahl chose Sean Patrick Hargadon to bring the Catholic Cobbler to life; an actor well known in the Elgin Theater community, especially with Janus Theatre Company, where he acts and directs on a regular basis.

As for The Jewish shopkeeper, Pahl chose Steve Macarus, another familiar face to Elgin theatergoers, although Macarus is known more for his comedic work, according to Pahl.

“I’m interested to see what he will do,” he said.

Hottl and Pac’zynski were not just characters woven from his imagination, Bibby said. They were based on his relationship with a friend who holds very different views on life.

“It started based upon a friend and I (who) would have theological discussions,” Bibby said.

The talks began in the spirit of an open-minded exchange of ideas, but that premise degenerated and the friends needed to address whether their relationship could continue.

“I found that the more we talked, the less we could talk about,” said Bibby. At one point, they reached an impasse.

“We worked past that, by avoiding certain topics, I’m afraid,” he said.

“Broken Glass” will be the first full-length play Bibby has seen produced and will be free to the public as part of the Page to Stage series sponsored by sponsored by the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, Elgin Art Showcase, and city of Elgin.

As with all of the Page to Stage shows, the works are approached with little to no production. The actors will read from the script onstage and interpret it dramatically.

“The actors have long passages memorized,” said Pahl. Aside from the format’s affordability, the production style gives new authors a chance to see their plays produced, while giving audiences the chance to participate in the development of a new play through question and answer sessions after the show.

Bibby is excited to see his play through the eyes of the director, actors and audience, especially in the low-key format.

“I liked that (‘Broken Glass’) was about personal decisions,” Pahl said. “It wasn’t this big miniseries or movie about the Holocaust.”

“It’s about incremental decisions, how it sneaks up on you and you find yourself in the middle of something horrible.”

Cast members include Lori Holm of Batavia; Catie Early of East Dundee; Sean Hargadon, Steve Macarus and Miranda Savel of Elgin; Dylan Martin of Geneva; Tony Farruggio of Lisle and Patrick Pantelis of Palatine.

The free shows are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, and Saturday, April 30, as well as 1 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division St., eighth floor. A reception and question-and-answer session with Bibby, Pahl and the cast will follow each show at Villa Verone, 13 Douglas Ave., Elgin.

To learn more about Page To Stage and the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, visit

Downtown Arts Scene

A lot has been happening in Elgin. The arts/culture scene has shown some real promise lately. We have the Art & Soul art show entering its second year this summer in the downtown. Along with that, the Elgin Short Film Festival will be back this Fall after last year’s huge success. And Walkabout: Theater on your Feet will be entering its third year of production this year. Those are just a few examples of the diverse arts and culture events happening in downtown Elgin. These are exciting times.

It wasn’t always that way. For many years, the downtown struggled. Sure, there was the venerable Hemmens Theatre and Elgin Symphony Orchestra. But what was missing? Grassroots arts projects.

Over the years, Janus Theatre produced a variety of projects unique to the suburbs. The reason for this was simple: if you wanted to see a certain play or style of theater, you’d have to go into the city of Chicago. With this in mind, we’re planning on adding another wrinkle to the downtown scene.

Next month, we’ll be introducing the Elgin Short Play Festival: Theresa Rebeck, 1992-2005. This retrospective will feature some Rebecks’ most exciting short pieces. There will be more on this later. Keep checking back.