Mall Rats | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader

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Last summer, the same bright idea occurred to two Chicago-area theater professionals who make their home in the northern reaches of Lake County. Jeff-winning actor Doug McDade (a member of Chicago's Shattered Globe Theatre ensemble) and director Mark Heller (former artistic director at Waukegan's Bowen Park Theatre) independently approached Gurnee mayor Donald Rudny to suggest that the town was ready for its own theater company. Rudny introduced them and together they rounded up local sponsors, got affiliated with the park district, scored a sweetheart lease on a 10,000-square-foot space in Gurnee Mills Mall, and founded the Gurnee Theatre Company. They've turned a former sporting goods store into a 150-seat theater and are hoping for a complementary fit with attractions like Serpent Safari and a 20-screen multiplex. The plan is to snare some of the mall's 23 million annual visitors as well as the townsfolk with "professional caliber" productions of classic comedies. Their first show is Heller's favorite play, Moss Hart's 1948 showbiz send-up Light Up the Sky. Directed by Heller, with a cast that draws heavily on hometown talent, it opens April 4 and runs through the end of the month at the mall at I-94 and Grand in Gurnee. Curtain time is 8 Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and 3 Sunday. Tickets are $14, $12.50 for students, seniors, and members of the military. Call 847-623-7788.

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