John Mellencamp shares his classic rock tunes and some new favorites during his show at Rockford’s Coronado Performing Arts Center on Nov. 18.

Arts & Entertainment Events at a Glance

There’s so much to do in the Old Northwest Territory! Here’s a glimpse at what’s happening this fall.

John Mellencamp shares his classic rock tunes and some new favorites during his show at Rockford’s Coronado Performing Arts Center on Nov. 18.


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Through Oct. 23, check website for days/times. Seven brothers, boisterous unruly mountain men, kidnap the girls of their dreams and woe them for their brides. Athletic dancing, sing-along songs and laugh-out-loud humor. Fireside Dinner Theatre (Fireside), Bus. Hwy. 26 South, Fort Atkinson, Wis. (800) 477-9505,
Exhibition: Farms & Barns 7
Through Oct. 22, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., T-Sat. Popular, juried, all-media show depicting the area’s rich agricultural heritage. The Next Picture Show (TNPS), 113 W. 1st St., Dixon, Ill. (815) 285-4924,
Art of Devotion
Through Nov. 12, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., T-Th; noon-5 p.m., Sat. This unique Freeport Art Museum (FAM) exhibition brings together devotional artifacts from its permanent collections, with over 15 Byzantine-style painted icons by Freeport native Athena Mosxona. Freeport Art Museum, 121 N. Harlem Ave., Freeport, (815) 235-9755,
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Through Dec. 11, Fri. 7 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 2 p.m. In conjunction with the traveling “Peanuts … Naturally” exhibit: Youth Theater Project presents the musical comedy based on Charles Shulz’ beloved comic strip characters. Buy show-only tickets or combo with museum admission. Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 963-6769,
Music on Main Series
Through May 14, 5:30 p.m. Held the second Monday of the month, this after-work concert series from Mendelssohn offers performances from a variety of artists, and complimentary wine and cheese, in an intimate setting. Performer list on website. Emerson House, 420 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 964-2238,
Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor
Oct. 13-15, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 16, 2 p.m. Presented by Janesville Little Theatre (JLT). The wacky antics of the writing staff of a 1953 weekly comedy-variety show and its star. Based on Simon’s early career as a jokesmith on NBC’s “Your Show of Shows.” Janesville Performing Arts Center (JPAC), 408 S. Main St., Janesville, (608) 758-0297. Tickets: BJSO, (608) 313-1200,
Wait Until Dark
Oct. 13-15, 21-23, Th-Sat 8 p.m.; Sun 2 p.m. The classic thriller about a blind woman who must defend herself from murderous thugs, that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. Stage Coach Players, 126 S. 5th St., DeKalb, Ill. (815) 758-1940,
Twenty Dirty Hands  
Oct 14-16, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Self-guided tour around some of the area’s best-known pottery and sculpture studios in and near Galena and Elizabeth. Maps at the Old Train Depot Visitor Information Center. Free. Galena, Ill. (815) 777-0644,
Oct. 14-16, F-Sat 6:30 p.m., show 7 p.m.; Sun. 1:30 p.m., show 2 p.m. A newlywed couple and both sets of aging parents, who can’t stand each other, live under the same roof. Dessert theater. Mighty Richland Players, IOOF/Masonic Hall, 203 W. High St., Orangeville, Ill. (815) 819-1310,
The Web: Tracy Kash Thomas
Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m. This classical musician from Detroit, with her own unique brand of jazz and jazz-influenced rock/pop, was nominated for six 2011 Detroit Music Awards. Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Emerson Auditorium, 415 N. Church St., Rockford, (815) 964-2238,
Rockford Symphony Orchestra (RSO): “Mancini & Moonlight”
Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m. Steven Larsen, conductor. Nat Chandler, Teri Dale, vocalists. Timeless songs like “Moon River” & “Days Of Wine and Roses,” and orchestral features such as “The Baby Elephant Walk,” “Peter Gunn” and “The Pink Panther.” Coronado Performing Arts Center (CPAC), 314 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 968-0595, Tickets: RSO, (815) 965-0049.
Rock Valley Children’s Choirs Fall Concert
Oct. 18, 5:30 p.m. This performance, called “I Could Write A Book,” showcases all four children’s choirs, includes songs inspired by literature. Free; freewill offering benefits Rockford Literacy Council. MPAC, Rockford, (815) 964-9713,
Contempt of Court
Oct. 19-20, 26-27, Nov. 2-3, 11:45 a.m. Dinner theater. Interactive comedy where members of the audience become court reporters, sketch artists, plaintiffs and jury members in ridiculous lawsuits heard by Judge Judy. White Pines Inn, 6712 W. Pines Road, Mt. Morris, Ill. (815) 946-3817,
The Crucible
Oct. 20-23, 28-23, Th-Sat. 7 p.m.; Sun. 1 p.m. Presented by Stage One. The classic 1953 drama by Arthur Miller uses the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 to reflect the anti-communist hysteria fueled by Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee. A timeless exploration of intolerance, hysteria and the dangers of misplaced power. JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297.
Avalon String Quartet
Oct. 21, Dec. 2, 7 p.m. One of the country’s top string ensembles, now in residence at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. MPAC, Rockford, (815) 964-9713.
New Play Café
Oct. 21-23, F-Sat 7:30 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. Each day, a new play written by local authors is read: The Shakespeare Conspiracy; The Right Thing; Jeeves Takes a Bow. Artists’ Ensemble (AE), Cheek Theatre, Rockford College, 5050 E. State St., Rockford. Info: AE, (815) 394-5004,
“Tribute to the Stars”
Oct. 25, 11:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m. Denny Diamond and the Family Jewels perform Neil Diamond tunes, hits of other stars and original music. Luncheon show. $32. Great Hall, Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock State Park, Rts. 178 & 71, Utica, Ill. (800) 868-7625,
Schola Cantorum de Venezuela
Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m. The premier touring chorus of Latin America, with breathtaking range, delivers a vivid cultural and joyous experience. CPAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595,
Monty Python’s SPAMALOT
Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m. Lovingly ripped off from the hit film “Monty Python & the Holy Grail,” this outrageously funny show won a Tony Award in 2005 for Best New Musical. Broadway at the Coronado Series. CPAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595,
Lynyrd Skynyrd & ZZ Top
Oct. 27, 7 p.m. Two quintessential American rock bands join for a night of pure southern rock. BMO Harris Bank Center (formerly MetroCentre), 300 Elm St., Rockford, (815) 968-5600,
Mark Twain & the Laughing River
Oct. 27, 29, 7 p.m. The wit and wisdom of this American humorist comes alive as Jim Post blends his skills as storyteller, actor, historian and musician, with original script and songs. One Eleven Main Restaurant, 111 Main St., Galena, Ill. (815) 777-8030,
A Fireside Christmas
Oct. 27-Dec. 22, check website for times. A holiday tradition returns – as always, with new songs, dances, costumes, cast and fun, but the same spiritual message about the meaning of Christmas. Fireside, Fort Atkinson,
Chamber Orchestra Kremlin
Oct. 28, 7 p.m. Hear one of Russia’s leading ensembles, comprised of some of Russia’s finest young string musicians, perform. Maddox Theatre, Rockford College, 5050 E. State St., Rockford,
Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, with Darwyn Apple
Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m. “Mozart Meets Ravel”: Stephen Squires, conductor; Darwyn Apple, violin. Mozart: Symphony K. 196/121 in D major; Concerto for Violin, No. 3, K. 216 in D major; Ravel: Pavanne pour une infante defunte; Le Tombeau de Couperin. MPAC, Rockford, (815) 964-9713,
The Web: David Roth
Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m. A Chicago native, this folk singer is an award-winning composer whose songs have found their way into places like Carnegie Hall, the United Nations, two Chicken Soup for the Soul books and even on the space shuttle Atlantis. MPAC, Reitsch Rm., Rockford, (815) 964-2238,
Exhibition: Shades of Grey 7
Oct. 28-Nov. 26, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., T-Sat. The simplest statement can be the most eloquent one. This juried show features work of all media in black, white and grey. TNPS, Dixon, (815) 285-4924.
An Evening With Mark Twain
Oct. 30, 2 p.m. Touring Twain impersonator Kurt Sutton spins yarns, plays and sings. Part of Historic Voices series. Pec Playhouse Theatre, 314 Main St., Pecatonica, Ill. (815) 239-1210,
Frankenstein Radio Show
Oct. 31, 6:30 p.m. Witness this ghoulish tale as a live radio drama presented by the Janesville Radio Players, with sound effects and simulcast on WCLO radio. All seats $5. JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297.


3 Doors Down
Nov. 1, 7 p.m. The band with hits like “Kryptonite” and “When I’m Gone” are joined by guests Theory of a Dead Man and Pop Evil. BMO Harris Bank Center (formerly MetroCentre), Rockford,
The Web: Red Molly
Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m. The female trio that began as a happy accident around a campsite at a folk festival is winning over audiences around the country, with its buoyant harmonies of bluegrass and old-time gospel. Memorial Hall, 211 N. Main St., Rockford,
Bill Cosby
Nov. 5, 8 p.m. Few have achieved this performer’s legendary status, whose comedy stand-up routine of the 1960s led to multiple gold records, best-selling books and hit television shows. CPAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595.
Nov. 6, 7 p.m. Two-time Grammy-nominated group has scored six consecutive No. 1 Christian radio singles, a 2008 GMA Dove Award for “Rock Song of the Year,” a 2009 nomination for Artist of the Year and a trio of singles on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts. CPAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595.
BJSO: Allegro I
Nov. 6, 4 p.m. Susan Nelson, soprano; Lanette Calhoun, keyboard. Classic arias and light pops standards. JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297. Tickets: BJSO, (608) 313-1200,
“Elmo Makes Music”
Nov. 8-9, 7 p.m., Nov. 9, 10:30 a.m. New music teacher Jenny’s instruments are missing, and her new Muppet friends quickly come to the rescue and discover ‘instruments’ they never knew existed … rubber duckies, trash can lids and even cookie jars. BMO Harris Bank Center (formerly MetroCentre), Rockford,
“Turn Back Time” Cher Impersonator
Nov. 8-11, 15-18, 11:45 a.m. Lisa Irion is recognized as one of the foremost Cher impersonators, having appeared on “The Tonight Show,” Lifetime TV, “The Rachel Ray Show” and internationally. Dinner theater. White Pines Inn, Mt. Morris, (815) 946-3817.
“RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles”
Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m. This multi-dimensional show chronicles the Fab Four from their mop-top beginnings to their long-haired psychedelic days, with live performers, historical film footage and vintage TV commercials. Broadway at the Coronado Series. CPAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595,
Legacy Girls “Andrews Sisters” Show
Nov. 9, 5-8:45 p.m. This trio brings the past to life, with costume changes, dancing and three-part harmonies ala the Andrews Sisters. Wine tasting/dinner show. $37. Lunch show Nov. 10, 11:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m. Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock State Park, Rts.178 & 71, Utica, Ill. (800) 868-7625,
“Cordelia Harvey”
Nov. 11, 3 & 7 p.m. A dramatic impersonation of this Wisconsin woman who worked as a nurse in the Civil War and helped to establish sanitary medical practices worldwide. Part of Historic Voices series. Pec Playhouse, Pecatonica, (815) 239-1210.
St. Mark Music & Art: Brad Liebl
Nov. 11, 7 p.m. Hear this celebrated baritone, a faculty member at University of Cape Town, South Africa, in a free concert. Part of St. Mark Lutheran Church Concert Series. Freewill offering accepted. St. Mark Lutheran Church, 675 Mulford Road, Rockford, (815) 398-3557.
Gaither Homecoming 2011
Nov. 11, 7 p.m. Gospel singer Bill Gaither is joined by his vocal band and a variety of guests that include The Nelons, Charlotte and Greg Ritchie and Gordon Mote. BMO Harris Bank Center (formerly MetroCentre), Rockford,
The Web: Claudia Schmidt
Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m. Featured on “A Prairie Home Companion,” this singer/songwriter has been entertaining with her voice, 12-string guitar and mountain dulcimer with a collection of original and traditional music for almost four decades. Emerson House, Rockford,
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Nov. 11-13, 18-20, F-Sat 7 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. A delightful comedy, adapted from the best-selling book by Barbara Robinson. Main Street Players of Boone County, Community Building Complex of Boone County, 111 W. 1st St., Belvidere, (800) 741-2963,
Escanaba In Love
Nov. 11-13, 18-20, F-Sat. 7 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. Set 40 years before Escanaba by Moonlight. Reben Soady meets and marries “Big Betty Ballou,” who joins the men as the first not-so-welcome woman on their annual deer hunting trip. Vince Carney Community Theatre, Paddock Memorial Hall, Hickory Grove Complex, 1127 N. 7th St., Rochelle, Ill. (815) 764-2287,
RSO: Classical Remembrances
Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m. Steven Larsen, conductor. With the Mendelssohn Chorale. Selections inspired by music of faith. George: A Thanksgiving Overture; Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Haydn; Faure: Reqiuem; Franck: Psalm 150. CPAC, Rockford. Tickets: RSO, (815) 965-0049.
Double the Divas
Nov. 14-15, 11:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m. Sheri Winkelmann as Marilyn Monroe performs hit songs from her films and interacts with the audience with her quick wit and humor. After intermission, as Connie Francis, sings hits like “Where the Boys Are,” “Who’s Sorry Now.” Luncheon show. Great Hall, Starved Rock Lodge, Utica, (800) 868-7625.
Legends Showcase
Nov. 15-18, 11:45 a.m. Impressionist Mike Russell in a Branson-style show with costume changes and impressions of Frank Sinatra, Louie Armstrong, Elvis, even Kermit the Frog. Dinner theater. White Pines Inn, Mt. Morris, (815) 946-3817.
Nov. 17-20, Th-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. Musical adaptation of the great Studs Terkel’s acclaimed book, evoking the extraordinary in the ordinary lives of working people in America. Maddox Theatre, Rockford College,
John Mellencamp
Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m. From his early days as John Cougar, a string of more than 35 hits, from “I Need a Lover” and “Small Town” to “Your Life is Now” and “Our Country,” 11 Grammy nominations and one win, to his 2008 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this true rocker continues to tour and produce original songs from the heart of the heartland. CPAC, Rockford,
Christmas Belles
Nov. 18-Dec. 4, F-Sat 8 p.m., Sat-Sun 2 p.m. Three squabbling sisters vie to reign over a church Christmas pageant, with an ailing Santa, a vengeful sheep and a reluctant Elvis impersonator. Pec Playhouse, Pecatonica,
DanceWorks Chicago
Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m. This company’s dances are infused with jazz, hip-hop, modern and ballet, and feature new works as well as those of the masters. Its unique approach is mentoring young choreographers with established professionals. Master Class for local dancers. JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297.
Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg & Anne-Marie McDermott
Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m. Leading violinist Salerno-Sonnenberg, known for her musical depth, and consummate pianist McDermott, who plays more than 100 concerts each year as both soloist and collaborator, perform together. Bach: Sonata in E Major; Beethoven: Sonata No. 1 in D Major; DeFalla: Suite Populaire Espagnole; Strauss: Sonata. CPAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595.
The Web: Muriel Anderson & Tierra Negra
Nov. 25, 7:30 p.m. The top fingerstyle/harp-guitarist in the world is joined by the duo of Flamenco guitarists who have fused Rumba/Flamenco with folk, jazz and pop. MPAC, Emerson Auditorium, Rockford,
The True Meaning
Nov. 25-27, F-Sat open 6 p.m., Sun noon. Discover the true meaning of the season, with a wide range of familiar Christmas tunes and funny, sentimental stories. Dinner theater. Mighty Richland Players, Orangeville,
The 1942 USO Celebrity Tour
Nov. 25-27, Dec. 2-4, F-Sat 7:30 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. Written by troupe members, this revue to honor WWII vets is modeled after USO tours, with music from Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters and Glenn Miller, comedy from Lucille Ball, Bob Hope and more. Byron Civic Theater, Byron Middle School, 850 N. Colfax St., Byron, Ill. (815) 312-3000,
Scrooge: The Comedy
Nov. 26, Dec. 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 5:45 p.m. This hilarious, loosely adapted version of Dickens’ classic blends improvisation, audience participation and nightclub-type antics. An audience favorite updated for 2011. Dinner theater. White Pines Inn, Mt. Morris, (815) 946-3817.
“I’m Dreaming of a White Pines Christmas”
Nov. 29-30, Dec. 6-7, 13-14, 11:45 a.m. Featuring Neil Diamond impersonator Denny Diamond & The Family Jewels, this show mixes Diamond classics with holiday favorites. Dinner theater. White Pines Inn, Mt. Morris,


Christmas Carol
Dec. 1-4, Th-Sat 8 p.m.; Sat-Sun 2 p.m. A musical version of Dickens’ holiday classic tale of miserly Scrooge’s redemption. Stage Coach Players, DeKalb, (815) 758-1940.
Christmas at the Lodge
Dec. 2, 6:30-9 p.m. Enjoy holiday classics performed by the Prairie Singers. Dinner show. $38. Great Hall, Starved Rock Lodge, Utica, (800) 868-7625.
Indian Blood
Dec. 2-18, check website for times. Family Christmas at Grandma’s, 1946: 16-year-old Eddie’s been suspended from school for an embarrassing reason, and Cousin Lambert is going to tell. AE, Rockford, (815) 394-5004,
Exhibition: Architecture and More!
Dec. 2-Jan. 7, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., T-Sat. This juried, all-media show highlights architecture in all its forms, from the straight line to the cupola. TNPS, Dixon, (815) 285-4924.
RSO: The Nutcracker Ballet
Dec. 3, 7 p.m.; Dec. 4, 3 p.m. Sugarplum fairies, nutcrackers and delightful dancers will dazzle you in Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic, performed by guest dancers from renowned companies and members of Rockford Dance Co. CPAC, Rockford. Tickets: RSO, (815) 965-0049.
BJSO: Home for the Holidays Family Spectacular
Dec. 4, 2 p.m. Favorite carols and Christmas classics. The Eclipse Center, 100 Eclipse Center, Beloit, Wis. Tickets: BJSO, (608) 313-1200,
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
Dec. 9-11, 16-18, Th-Sat 7:30 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m. Presented by Bower City Theatre Co. A new musical based on the 1954 hit Paramount movie with Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby, with Berlin’s songs, including “Sisters,” “Blue Skies,” “Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me” and, of course, “White Christmas.” JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass
Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m. This dynamic group showcases traditional brass favorites and symphonic masterworks arranged for brass ensemble. Court Street United Methodist Church, 215 N. Court St., Rockford, (815) 964-9713,
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific
Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m. Sweeping tale of love set on a south-sea island during World War II, with well-known songs “Some Enchanted Evening,” “This Nearly Was Mine,” “There is Nothing Like a Dame.” Broadway at the Coronado Series. CPAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595.
The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller
Dec. 11, 4 p.m. Celebrate the spirit of the season with the “18th-century rock band” that has become one of the most popular and best-selling acts in the last 30 years. CPAC, Rockford,
RSO: Holiday Pops!
Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 18, 3 p.m. The Mendelssohn Chorale joins the RSO with an outpouring of great seasonal music and holiday cheer. CPAC, Rockford. Tickets: RSO, (815) 965-0049.
The Web: Robin & Linda Williams & Their Fine Group
Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m. This Virginia-based duo known for their rich harmonies and original songwriting rooted in country, bluegrass and gospel, gained prominence as part of The Hopeful Gospel Quartet on “A Prairie Home Companion.” MPAC, Emerson Auditorium, Rockford,
Jim Brickman: A New Year’s Celebration
Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. Ring in the new year with the pianist who revolutionized adult contemporary music with his pop-style solo piano. ❚