Smile Politely

Five things in arts this month: December 2019

Tis the season for holiday shopping, baking, and merry-making home and afar. But before we bid farewell to 2019, I hope you will take a break from the holiday hubbub and make time for some of the season’s best arts experiences. With all of the family and travel ahead, take some time for yourself to enjoy the restorative powers of visual art, live theatre, dance, and poetry.

Some of the offerings listed below may lean a bit hard into seasonal fare. But classics are so for a reason. And so are traditions. Stories of kindness and goodness may be just the cure for the year we’ve had. So whatever you may celebrate this season, there’s plenty to celebrate about our local arts scene.

Obsession: Media and Material, An Arte 475 Exhibition

One of the best ways to get to know someone, particularly an artist, is to ask them what inspires them, makes them tick. “Obsession: Media and Material” takes you there. Dark, surprising, and funny, and sure to inspire you to consider your own personal obsessions. A wide-ranging exhibit both in terms of subject, media, and materials, takes a fresh look at the creative process from inspiration to exploration to production. Go. Take it in. Get inspired and lean into the things that drive you.  Who knows where that will take you?

Obsession: Media and Material, An Arte 475 Exhibition
40 Point One || art space
1300 S Neil St
Open through January 21st

Image from Facebook event page

CU Ballet’s The Nutcracker


A local holiday tradition for a reason, CU Ballet’s The Nutcracker has it all. Young dancers full of energy and spunk, fabulous costumes, sets, and a live performance of Tchaikovsky’s most famous work by the talented CU Symphony Orchestra. There is no better way to return that childhood state of awe and wonder. Just the energy in the room will be enough to transport you to your happy place. Our town is lucky to have innovative artist director Deanna Doty and her talented corps. 

CU Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Tryon Festival Theatre
500 S Goodwin Ave
December 5th + 6th, 7:30 p.m.
December 7th, 2 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
December 8th, 2 p.m. 6 p.m.
Get ticket information here

Photo by Darrell Hoemann

It’s a Wonderful Life: Live on Air

When Jarrod recently talked with director Ed Pierce about this exciting adaption of the beloved holiday classic, Pierce shared that “We’re doing it as a live radio show set on Christmas Eve 1946, so it’s as if you’ve come to the theatre in 1946 to see a live broadcast of It’s a Wonderful Life. You’re seeing actors from the 1940s. You’re seeing live sound effects. You’re seeing live accompaniment on stage. It’s such a fun way to see a show you’re already familiar with. The format really adds a layer of entertainment that I find very exciting.” If you love the movie, you’ll love seeing the story unfold live in front of you with the energy and talent of The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre. Stay tuned for a review by KT Burke coming next week.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Live on the Air
The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre
223 N Broadway Ave
December 5-21, 7:30 p.m.
Get ticket information here

Poets at the Post: featuring Will Reger

You may have read my interview with Will Reger, Urbana’s inaugural poet laureate, and learned about his goals for supporting poets and poetry throughout our community. But next Monday, you get to meet him as a poet. Reger will be reading from his new book, Petroglyphs, his first full-length collection of poetry. The power of the poet is felt on the page, but also live at the mic. If you haven’t had the chance to hear poetry read live, you may have been missing the full impact. In this format, it is musical, rhythmic, ephemeral, and awaiting audience response. 

Poets at the Post: featuring Will Reger
The Iron Post
120 S Race Street
December 9th, 7 to 9 p.m.

Photo from the Urbana Arts and Culture Program website

A Christmas Carol

There are so many reasons to check this out.  It’s a holiday classic.  It’s a story that still, perhaps now more than ever, speaks to the best and worst of human behavior. The cost of your ticket goes to support theatre at Parkland College, where we now enjoy two performance stages. And best of all, like Pierce’s It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s a fresh spin on the story, offering all the energy of a live radio event. The promotional buzz promises “live 1940s radio broadcast complete with vintage commercials, the magic of live sound effects, and live music.” Stay tuned for a review by our very own Seth Fein. 

A Christmas Carol
Parkland College Theatre
2400 W Bradley Ave
December 13th, 7:30 p.m.
December 14th, 3 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
December 15th, 3 p.m.
All tickets are $25, call 217-351-2528 for more information, or to make reservations

It’s been quite a year of arts experiences. I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I have. Whatever you choose to attend this month, I offer my best wishes for an artful holiday season full of inspiration, creativity, and joy. 

Arts Editor

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