The 21st Show

ENCORE: Arts Organizations In Central Illinois; ‘Man On Fire’ Documentary; ‘Hamilton’ Exhibition


Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Flickr/Spiro Bolos(CC BY-SA 2.0)

When you think “performing arts,” you might think of Chicago. But for 50 years, the Krannert Center in Urbana has been a thriving place for theater, music and dance. How does performing arts thrive outside the big city? Plus, Charles Moore was a minister in Texas who set himself on fire to protest racism in his community. Today, we’ll hear about a film which explores how his death affected his town. And, you may have heard of a little musical called Hamilton. This past fall, Lin Manuel Miranda opened an exhibition in Chicago that focuses on the history of the real-life Alexander Hamilton.

Arts Organizations In Central Illinois

On June 23, in 2014, a Methodist minister named Charles Moore set himself on fire in the Dollar General parking lot of his hometown, in Grand Saline, Texas. Why he did that remains a mystery: one that filmmakers Joel Fendelman and James Chase Sanchez try to answer in their documentary, Man on Fire.

We spoke with Joel and James back in March when they were in Central Illinois for a screening of the documentary, which has also appeared on PBS’s Frontline. They stopped by our Urbana studios before their event.

'Man On Fire' Documentary

For 50 years, people in central Illinois have been coming to the Krannert Center to see performers like Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Bell, as well as ballet companies, acrobats and musicians from all over the world. And this year, they celebrated those five decades with the Come Home to Krannert Center Weekend. 

It’s an achievement, not just for the University of Illinois, but for art in Illinois, and it got us here at the 21st thinking about other great arts organizations and institutions in the state that exist outside of Chicago. We’ve gathered a few of them to join us for a conversation. 

Mike Ross is the director of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Betsy Dollar is the Executive Director of the Springfield Arts Association. Adam Fox is the Civic Arts Manager who oversees programming at the Normal Theater.

"Hamilton" Exhibition

It’s been more than three years since the show "Hamilton" first opened on Broadway. And since then, its spread to dozens of major cities across the country and even to the UK.

We’ve also seen it grow beyond the musical itself in the form of additional music and even a new book.

This past fall, Chicago even got its own exclusive exhibition on Northerly Island called "Hamilton: The Exhibition." It’s was billed as a one of a kind, interactive look at the story of America’s founding, all told from the perspective of Alexander Hamilton.

Chris Jones is the theater critic for the Chicago Tribune. He reported on this for the paper. We spoke with him this past July before the exhibition opened.

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