Artistic director: So much to see at The Dixon

Swifties celebration, Fleetwood Mac tribute on schedule at downtown venue

"Blue" Lou Marini and Tom "Bones" Malone were featured at a Dixon Municipal Band concert at The Dixon: Historic Theatre on March 23, 2024.

Happy April, everyone! Thanks to all the patrons who have come out to The Dixon: Historic Theatre in the past month.

We have had a variety of shows and movies that seem to have garnered some buzz here in the community. We have received a lot of emails and phone calls telling us to keep putting up great shows. Doug Allen Nash nearly sold out the theater with his tribute to Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. We always get excited when people stand and dance! The video wall, the light show, the very talented band and Doug took us on a rocking coaster that lasted more than two hours. I believe I even witnessed some kissing. It was a glorious night, and we hope we can bring him back again.

The Dixon Municipal Band surprised many newcomers with its sound and copious number of musicians. The theater was filled with sound, fury and applause. The band featured two famous musicians, “Blue” Lou Marini and Tom “Bones” Malone – from “Saturday Night Live,” and “The Blues Brothers,” and touring with James Taylor – both of whom played at least three instruments each. To top it off, we had a tribute to “The Blues Brothers” by watching the movie during the day, then adding “Jake and Elwood” tribute performers Bob Balayti and Mike Venier to sing songs from the movie with the band. Band members in the opera boxes and harmonica solos – the night was full of surprises.

Yakov Smirnoff came to The Dixon from Branson, Missouri, with his new show, “Laugh Your Yak-Off.” I’ve been a huge fan since the 1980s, so I was not surprised when the crowd would stop the show with the amount of laughter he caused. Performing for more than 90 minutes, he brought slides of his parents in Ukraine and their immigration to America. Not only hilarious, but sentimental and full of heart. I know we had the Best of Dixon Gala, a fundraiser at The Next Picture Show, and Caitlin Clark playing in the NCAA Women’s basketball semifinals, but I wish you all could have seen his genius. I had a patron come up and say, “I can’t wait to rub it into my friends with how good this show was.” We are working hard to make your visit a memorable one.

I just watched the Dixon City Council meeting, and they gave praise to all the local small businesses in the area, and I agree 100%. All the business owners I have met have been extremely kind and optimistic about the future and growth of Dixon. They have also been very supportive of The Dixon Theatre and we can’t thank everyone enough. If you’re a business owner who would like to join our list of sponsors, please contact the theater and I’ll come over and shake your hand.

I was looking at the map and discovered that we are in the center of a circle of successful theaters: The Coronado, The Egyptian, Circa 21, Timber Lake Playhouse, The Fireside and the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre. We are proud to be in this area and representing the arts in the Sauk Valley. As we gear up for 2025, like us on social media and tell us what you’d like to see at The Dixon – more concerts, comedians, touring Broadway shows, musicals, etc.? We love input and we truly listen to suggestions and requests.

The gorgeous weather has arrived and with it comes all the outdoor activities. Once you’ve finished fishing, hiking, biking, softball, kayaking and whatever else the Sauk Valley offers, spend some evenings with us. We have your spring entertainment covered this month.

Someday, we’ll be big enough to bring in Taylor Swift! Until then, come to our new album release listening event at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 19. Join your fellow Swifties as we dance to the music and share friendship bracelets.

If you enjoy older music, we have “Motor City–The Motown Review” paying tribute to eight legendary artists and groups at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20. The Temptations, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye and many more will remind you of driving around blaring Motown on your AM car radio! Anyone, at any age, who loves music should come see this incredible live show that is one night only.

Micheal McCreary is a stand-up comedian on the autistic spectrum. Coming all the way from Canada, Micheal will be making us laugh with his original style of comedy and a rare peek into the world of autism. We are proud to help sponsor this amazing opportunity with Florissa. Tickets cost only $5. Showtime is 7 p.m. Thursday, April 25.

For the first time at The Dixon, we are holding a video game tournament, Mario Kart 8: Battle of the Best, a one-day, single-elimination tournament to crown the champion of Mario Kart 8. Are you a Twitch fan? Don’t want to play but want to come watch? Seats are available to watch local gamers play on the biggest screen in Dixon. Once a champion is crowned, they have the opportunity to play the Dixon Theatre champion for a special prize. The event starts at 1 p.m. April 27. The time is subject to change depending on how many contestants sign up.

Don’t forget about May! I watched rehearsals for our two youth actor groups, Dixon Kids and Dixon Young Actors. You are in for a treat! “Seussical Jr.” is perfect for the littles! “Taming of the Shrew ‘80s Style” will have a live rock band playing popular 1980s tunes supporting the famous Shakespeare story. Please come enjoy our next generation of performers.

We’ve also added “Big Love: A Fleetwood Mac” tribute May 3. Please like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram so you don’t miss out on any shows at one of the best venues in Illinois.

Thank you for reading all the way through and we’ll see you at The Dixon!

• Darren Mangler is the artistic producer at The Dixon: Historic Theatre.

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