(Cicero, IL) With the announcement of securing the rights to “The 25th Annual Putnam County Bee,” a musical comedy situated around a fictional spelling bee, the 2021-22 season at Morton College’s Jedlicka Performing Arts Center continues on its tradition of a diverse array of stage and musical productions while seeking to grow and develop new audiences through greater student involvement.
While the intimacy created by the 337-seat facility between the audience and the performers remains the same, the JPAC recently underwent its most significant transformation since going up as part of the new campus in the 1970s.
JPAC patrons will enjoy increased comfort with all new seating complete with MC branding on each chair. Gone are the flip-up desktops. The sound system is new and so are the washrooms and the lobby.
From the technical end, Micheal Kott, the Associate Dean – Learning Resource Center and Performing Arts Center, likes the new curtains, dressing rooms and lighting.
Kott has been part of the JPAC productions since 1997, having either acted, directed or produced over 50 plays such Blood Brothers, Solitary Confinement, Hairspray and Strangers on a Train. He also developed community theatre groups in Carol Stream and Germany, the latter while with the U.S. Army.
“Theatre is like sculpting something made out of snow,” said Kott, who has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Cinema Production from DePaul University. “I like the temporariness of it. There’s definitely a connection between the theatre and the audience.”
He’s worked with groups of all ages with Kott’s latest effort directing a suburban Catholic middle school’s production of the Sound of Music, which wrapped up before the pandemic shut down public venues last March.
One way Kott plans to increase student participation is to recommend adding theatre as part of the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference’s co-curricular competition. Morton College belongs to this eight-member group that offers competition in both athletics and co-curricular.
“My goal would be for each school to do a one-act play,” Kott said. “We’d watch each one and host workshops. It would be a day-long celebration of the stage.”
Kott also wants to reach out to the JPAC’s long-standing loyal patron base by doing two college productions this season. However, the JPAC will be jumping with a variety of events designed to delight a wide age demographic, including “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” from October 23rd to November 7th.
There’s an ABBA musical tribute band to go along with a faculty and staff variety show in September. A dance troupe is scheduled for October, while performances by the New Chicago Symphony and Lira Ensemble are on tap for 2022.
Hollywood jack-of-all trades Rick Najera brings his critically-acclaimed “Latino Thought Makers” before a live audience at the JPAC kicking off in September through December. The actor, writer and producer taps into his network of prominent Hispanic industry friends and community leaders with Najera’s four shows from the JPAC streamed online across Morton College’s various social media platforms.
And the always popular “Movie Nights,” hosted on the last Wednesday of every month, moves from the Library to the JPAC, named after Berwyn resident Albert Jedlicka, the board chair responsible for finding and the building of Morton College’s current location.
“If you haven’t attended an event at the JPAC recently, you’ll be amazed and impressed by Morton College’s commitment to the arts and live theatre,” Kott said. “This is a space the community will enjoy watching live performances for years to come.”
More information about the JPAC is available by calling (708) 656-1800 or e-mailing Theatre@morton.edu