February 9, 2024 at 3:00pm

Introducing Northbrook in 90!


“In this series, we will be taking 90 seconds to highlight a variety of exciting news and updates that will better illustrate who we are and what we do,” said Northbrook Park District Executive Director Chris Leiner in the inaugural episode’s introduction. This first episode takes us into the Northbrook Theatre to learn more about two awards received in 2023.

Let’s unpack everything from the episode and dive deeper into the opportunities behind the awards.

Since 2019, Northbrook Park District has been honored to receive a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency each year. The $9,600 matching grant recently awarded to the park district in 2023 is being used to fund arts programming for all ages and present high-quality theater productions for participants and general audiences. To qualify for the grant, organizations must show their programs and activities have artistic, educational and cultural value for the areas they serve.

“On stage right now we have Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience, based on the hit children’s book by Mo Willems, and presented by our Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences,” said Visual and Performing Arts Manager Drew Kambach. “This is just one of several productions that has recently been supported by the generous grant from the IACA.”

Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences introduces children ages 3 and up to the theater going experience. Looking back to last season, the company produced Across the Sand: A Passover Theatrical Experience that transported audience members to Ancient Egypt in for an interactive retelling of the Passover story complete with live music. Audiences brought to life the basket floating down the Nile, became sheep in a grassy field and experienced the crossing of the Red Sea in this interactive cultural production featuring professional actors.

In the episode, Kambach shared that Across the Sand will return to the Northbrook Theatre stage beginning April 17, 2024. Tickets for the Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences production will be available to purchase soon at nbparks.org/theatre.

An expansion of this program, Theatre for the Very Young, offered multiple runs of Wake Up Brother Bear last year in the intimate Little Theatre space for ages 0 to 5. Children were invited to join the action with professional actors to help create magical moments with snow, flowers and leaves in an interactive performance.

Northbrook Theatre Youth Company offers full stage productions and acting opportunities in plays and musicals for young elementary school and middle school actors. Productions in the past year included Newsies, Jr.Moana Jr.Footloose: Youth Edition and Cats Jr. with Finding Nemo Jr. coming up March 12-16, 2024.

Northbrook Theatre Community Musical in an award-winning theatre program offering multi-generational productions for ages 9 to adult often featuring siblings, parents and grandparents participating in theatre together. 2023 productions included Matilda and A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play. Auditions for Fiddler on the Roof are scheduled for March 20 with performances on May 17-19.

Beyond the Northbrook Theatre stage, the park district offers a variety of opportunities for both participants and audience members to enjoy the arts year-round. “Another exciting honor we received last fall was the Arts in the Park Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts,” said Kambach. “This award recognizes agencies that support the arts and partner with artists and arts organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities.”

Northbrook Park District has a long history of commitment to providing arts opportunities to the community. Visual arts classes are growing throughout all age groups from preschoolers to seniors. Classes include an eclectic mix of general art, ceramics, sewing, knitting, crafting, jewelry classes, basket weaving and culinary arts. Musically, the Park Larks senior choir offers music and fellowship through performances at local community centers and events. In addition, seniors partake in culturally relevant trips to theatres, museums and performances throughout the year.

Our summer concert series, Tuesdays in the Park, offered seven evenings of free outdoor concerts averaging 500 or more attendees weekly in 2023. Musical genres included blues, rock and roll, big band, jazz, country, youth performers, and Caribbean rock.

When creating new events, such as Grapes on the Green, a new wine tasting event offered in 2023 for ages 21 and up, staff seek to infuse art into the experience through an art fair, caricature artists and a community mural at the event.

Northbrook Park District collaborates with Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA) to offer stage opportunities for individuals with disabilities, allowing participants of all ages to engage in theater games, movement exercises and musical training, working alongside the Northbrook Park District Theatre staff to create a truly professional production.

Northbrook Park District also has a seat on the Village of Northbrook Arts Commission, working together to provide arts programs and events for the community including plein air competitions, art shows, workshops and gallery opportunities.

Dance programming offers recreational opportunities to learn different styles of dance such as ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop. Dance is also incorporated into several group fitness classes including barre, Zumba and WERQ as well as our popular Skate and Dance camp and ice-skating programming. The annual Northbrook-On-Ice show offers hundreds of skaters the opportunity to perform in a full production with choreography, music, lights, sound, sets and spectacle.

Working with Youth Services of Glenview Northbrook, Northbrook Park District offers a scholarship program, awarding approximately $15,000 annually to Northbrook residents with financial need in an effort to reduce barriers of access to recreational programs and opportunities.

Throughout the numerous arts offerings provided by Northbrook Park District, the Northbrook community is provided with the opportunity to experience and embrace a variety of cultural experiences. We are proud to present the arts throughout our programs, events, parks and facilities, providing the opportunity to learn, grow, connect and experience the arts together.

…and that’s Northbrook in 90, unpacked!

Joan Scovic

Article by Joan Scovic

Director of Marketing & Communications
Northbrook Park District


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