This week Chicago North Shore Moms is shining a light on a true North Shore gem that you should all go out and support! Lake Forest’s Citadel Theatre is home to an intimate 144 seat theater sporting productions like Little Shop of Horrors, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Outside Mullingar (which just got nominated for a Jeff Award for Best Production and Best Director) as well as outstanding theater workshops for young ones!
We had the pleasure of hearing from Ellen Phelps, Managing Director who co-founded the theatre back in 2002 with husband Scott Phelps. When asked what she’s most proud of about Citadel Theatre, Ellen doesn’t skip a beat, “Comments we get from the patrons enjoying our intimate 144 seat theatre; the happy faces of children at our theatre for young audience productions; the many comments from parents that our classes and performances have improved their children’s reading skills, self esteem, confidence, and the friendships they gained.” Welcome, Ellen!
Hi Ellen! Please introduce yourself.
My name is Ellen Phelps and I’m the Managing Director at Citadel Theatre. My husband, Scott Phelps, and I started Citadel Theatre in 2002, 21 years ago. I grew up in Northbrook and went to Glenbrook South High School. I was very involved in the theatre at Glenbrook South. I currently live in Mundelein, trying to be close to the theatre, our 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren.
What is Citadel Theatre’s mission and vision?
Citadel Theatre is a professional theatre company based in Lake Forest, IL. Citadel productions include musicals, dramas, comedies, cutting edge new works, contemporary, and classical selections. Citadel Theatre is committed to producing exciting, compelling, emotionally and intellectually rich work of the highest caliber by bringing together gifted professionals from all theatre disciplines.
Citadel seeks to provide a home for an audience that wants to experience powerful works of insight and complexity, works that illuminate the challenges and joys of the human experience. In doing this Citadel seeks to provide a creative haven for passionate, visionary directors, writers, actors, and designers dedicated to maintaining the highest standard of professionalism.
Why does Citadel Theatre speak to you personally?
Theatre should tell a story and not take a side. If the play is well written it should show 2 sides and let the audience gain understanding and empathy and possibly some enlightenment as to the human condition.
Are you an actor? If so, what productions have you been involved in?
Yes! I’m an actor and I’ve been in many shows at Citadel Theatre: Annie (Miss Hannigan) Vanya, Sonya, Masha, and Spike (Sonya); The Roommate (Sharon); A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum, Other Desert Cities etc…
Other than the fabulous Citadel Theatre productions you put on, does this nonprofit offer ways that disadvantaged populations can learn to act, etc…?
Citadel Theatre has audience members from all of Lake County and Chicago. We have started getting audience members from Southern Wisconsin as well. Citadel Cares is an outreach program providing free seating for other non profit organizations from underserved communities and military families. We also offer scholarships to children in our education classes and performances who can’t afford the tuition.
Why did you and Scott create Citadel Theatre?
We saw a need on the North Shore for a live theatre venue that local patrons could easily access instead of fighting traffic and parking to downtown Chicago venues.
What is the most rewarding about Citadel Theatre?
Many things! Comments we get from the patrons enjoying our intimate 144 seat theatre; the happy faces of children at our theatre for young audience productions; the many comments from parents that our classes and performances have improved their children’s reading skills, self esteem, confidence, and the friendships they gained. Theatre requires actors, designers, audience members all working together in a collaborative effort, it is very satisfying that we give creative people the opportunity to create art in a safe working environment.
What productions and classes at Citadel Theatre would you like our audience to know about?
Our mainstage productions for 2022-2023! The first three shows of our season have universal appeal:
- Little Shop of Horrors 9/17/22-10/16/22 Musical/Comedy
- It Runs in the Family 11/18/22-12/18/22 British Farce
- Junior Claus 12/20/22-12/30/22 Musical performed for young audiences
Register for our education classes and performances Classes begin 9/18/22-12/4/22. Classes are held at The Lake Forest Recreation Center 400 Hastings Rd. Lake Forest, IL. Class workshops are as follows:
- Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar Ages 4-6 Sunday 12:00-1:00
- Inspector Detector and the Case of the Precious Treasure (1st – 4th grade) Sundays 12:00-2:00
- The Mysterious Case of the Mysterious Case (3rd-8th Grade) Sundays 2:00-4:00
- Wine Cheese and Murder (6th-12th Grade) Sundays 2:00-4:00
Who would you like to thank for making the formation and success of Citadel Theatre and why?
There are so many people to thank for the success of Citadel Theatre. It takes a village! Our Patrons, sponsors, donors, annual gala committee, and all the creative actors, directors, and designers that work at Citadel.
Why should people make an effort to see local theater productions?
Like all art forms, music, dance, visual arts, performing arts, it needs to be supported by all of us in a healthy society.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about Citadel Theatre?
Citadel Theatre just got nominated for a Jeff Award for Best Production and Best Director for our February 2022 production of Outside Mullingar. It is a huge honor and we look forward to the awards ceremony October 17th!
Get to know your local theater company and even enroll your child in the gift of a lifetime – theater! Learn more at https://www.citadeltheatre.org.