A Lemont-based theater group will debut a new stage this spring in the former Blockbuster Video location.
NightBlue Performing Arts Company is set to open a small theater at 1232 State Street in May or June, according to co-founder Dave Walters.
The company hopes to bring a number of live productions to Lemont—including dramas, musicals, comedies and improv. Plans are also in the works for a youth immersion program this summer.
Walters, a Lemont resident, said NightBlue has been operating out of a small space on Holly Court since it was founded in 2005. Many of its early productions were put on in suburbs like Tinley Park, Orland Park and Hickory Hills, as well as several theaters in Chicago.
The company hasn't performed in Lemont since Disney's High School Musical and Kiss Me, Kate were shown at the in the summer of 2007.
"We're very excited for the opportunity to bring our shows back to the southwest suburbs, and to hopefully draw a wide variety of people to Lemont," Walters said.
According to Walters, he and fellow Lemont resident Andrew Kolanowski founded NightBlue with the dream of providing meaningful opportunities for talented performers. Walters, who studied acting in New York City and Chicago, has performed on several stages across the Chicago area, and now teaches and directs.
NightBlue has put on more than 35 shows and used more than 300 actors in five years, Walters said.
In 2009, the company founded the NightBlue Summer Theater Experience in New Buffalo, MI. The program provides children the opportunity to study theater, and put on four main stage performances every year.
NightBlue will expand the youth immersion program when the Lemont stage opens this summer. Teens ages 12 to 19 are invited to audition April 14, May 19 and June 2 for a theater intensive that will run June 11-20.
The workshop will provide instruction in character development, movement, improvisation and vocals, and will culminate in a public performance of Les Miserables.
"Part of the reason we formed NightBlue was to provide great experiences for young actors, so we're very excited to open up the summer workshop to kids in Lemont and the surrounding suburbs," Walters said.
The NightBlue theater is still under construction, but current seating plans call for a maximum of 120 people.
Walters said he hadn't planned to move the company to a permanent location until he was approached by the owner of Centennial Plaza, which currently includes , , , and .
"They were interested in having us move into the old Blockbuster space, and it just seemed like a great opportunity to grow as a company and bring something new to the plaza," Walters said.
Once the theater opens, Walters hopes to work with local businesses to offer lunch or dinner deals with their tickets.
"We've already talked to some of the surrounding restaurants about how we can work together to really draw people into Lemont," he said. "My hope is that we'll attract people from all over the suburbs.
For more information on NightBlue, visit www.nightbluetheater.com. For details on summer workshop auditions, call 630-410-8790.