Getting to ‘Lights On’ at Raue Center

As we’ve remained at home and away from large gatherings, Crystal Lake’s Raue Center for the Arts – like so many area arts organizations – has remained dark, but eager to welcome audiences. Stage plays, traveling performers, comedy shows, children’s workshops, small-scale “cafe” performances, and more were put on hold or canceled.

Thankfully, it’s time for the curtain to rise again.

Raue Center returned to in-person programming July 11, with a special production of Lucy’s Live, and more events like it are coming soon.

Things may look a little different than usual, but it’s all designed with safety and comfort in mind. Expect a smaller crowd, with audiences wearing masks and maintaining some distance between each other. Look for new options at the box office that make ticketing easy and touch-free.

What you won’t see are the few hundred others who’ll be joining you from the comfort of their own homes, thanks to live streaming. A new, four-camera system allows for high-quality video capturing and broadcasting of new productions. Ticket buyers can choose either option – in-person or digital – when they contact the box office.

“We’re just providing options,” says Richard Kuranda, executive director of Raue Center. “With so many of our demographics being at higher risk, we want to make sure that people feel comfortable and still connected.”

Exciting things have been underfoot these past few months.

“During the shutdown, our fierce team at the Raue surprised everyone,” says Kuranda. “They built one of the most successful art auctions of the past quarter – anywhere. Our second year of The 6×6 Project attracted art enthusiasts not only from across the U.S. but from around the world.”

Members of RaueNow have been enjoying a weekly stream of fresh programming, with comedy specials featuring amazing comics like Hari Rao, Katie Meiners and Kevin Bozeman.

Continuing its investment in young minds, Raue Center has been sharing book reviews and reading lessons – all broadcasted from the Raue stage – for RaueNow members, as well.

Sage Studio youth programming is now resuming with virtual and, eventually, in-person classes.

The general public can expect to see a steady stream of entertainment in the coming months. Smaller-scale performances will lead the way for now, with big-name attractions being moved back to winter and spring, just to be safe.

The annual Bob Blazier Run for the Arts returns Sept. 20 with a 5K start and finish line right outside the Raue’s marquee in downtown Crystal Lake.

On Nov. 7, Colin Mochrie, of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” visits with master hypnotist Asad Mecci for a night of laughs, with some help from the audience, no less. Elgin Symphony Orchestra brings its holiday pops special Dec. 11, and Amy Grant returns in April.

Williams Street Repertory, Raue Center’s professional theater troupe, is eagerly preparing for its return.

Meanwhile, Raue Center and arts organizations like it are encouraging patrons to provide financial support, whether that’s buying tickets, taking on a membership or providing ongoing contributions. RaueNow memberships bring numerous benefits, including exclusive access to performances and premium seating.

Memberships start at $50 and are tax-deductible.

You’ve probably become accustomed to streaming content at home these past few months, and you’ve probably noticed they’re not the same as art experienced live, in the company of others.

Whether it’s enjoying a rock tribute concert, laughing along with a comedian or following the characters of a play, there’s something elevating and magical about the stage. Art lovers have made that much clear in these unusual times.

“It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love,” says Kuranda. “So many people have made offers to support us, and we really want to welcome them back to the space now.” ❚

Raue Center for the Arts is located at 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. Purchase tickets at