Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Beth Fowler

Interview conducted by: Jesse Moore - Egyptian Theatre Intern

It’s that time of the year again! The Beth Fowler Dance Company is producing its time honored, annual presentation of “The Nutcracker” ballet this 2017 holiday season, celebrating 24-years! “The Nutcracker” is the featured event at the Egyptian Theatre the weekend of December 1st through December 3rd. If patrons are unable to attend the Egyptian Theatre shows, this production will also be presented at the St. Charles North High School in St. Charles, Illinois, on December 9th and December 10th. For more information on these shows, click here. The Egyptian Theatre cherishes our relationship with the Beth Fowler Dance Company, and we recently interviewed Beth about her upcoming productions of “The Nutcracker”.

(Beth Fowler of BFDS)

Jesse: Where did your love of dance come from?

Beth: Early in life I was best friends with a girl whose father taught dance. I soon thereafter, at 13-years-old, began dancing professionally; and, at 15 I opened my own dance school. From then on, I knew that this would be my life-long calling and career.

Jesse: What keeps you inspired today?

Beth: Watching my dancers grow, both professionally and personally, is what keeps me going. My students are like my own children. I watch them grow up in my school, and then I go to their weddings and watch their children grow up. This family inspires me everyday.

(The Nutcracker: Drosselmeyer in the Party Scene)

Jesse: What do you find particularly special about acrobatics as a dance format?

Beth: ‘Acro’ challenges our dancers. The more skills our dancers learn now, the more opportunities they will have in their futures. This is why our dance programs offer such diverse training, yet ballet is at the foundation of it all.

Jesse: What do you most enjoy about producing “The Nutcracker”?

Beth: I LOVE that the dancers are always so enthusiastic about putting on this show each and every year! They all look forward to making progress, and everyone gets into the Christmas spirit.

Jesse: What show has been your favorite to produce?

Beth: We created an original ballet in 2013 titled “A Storybook Ballet” of the 4 short stories of Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty & the Beast. Since we rotate our March ballets every fifth-year, the waiting is over and we will be presenting “A Storybook Ballet” in March, 2018. We are so excited; this is one of our favorites!

(The Nutcracker: Snow in the Enchanted Forest Scene)

Jesse: Why did you bring this show to the Egyptian Theatre, and what keeps you coming back?

Beth: We were in need of more space to put on more elaborate productions. I was excited that the Egyptian Theatre would provide the audience a professional theatre experience and not so far from home. Now, the Egyptian Theatre truly is our home. We have been back since 1992, and Executive Director Alex Nerad and his staff have continuously brought my greatest visions to life!

Jesse: With such an extensive list of quality faculty, do you ever consider expanding your instructor roster or number of facilities?

Beth: I am always looking for new ways to expand my school and the number and quality of opportunities that we offer our dancers! For example, we have a new and exciting partnership with the YMCA that will increase our outreach. It’s all about the children and what we can do for them!

Parents, remember that your child’s ticket also includes a backstage meet and greet with the Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara and friends! This applies to all Egyptian Theatre and St. Charles North High School shows.

For our schedule of events, click here!

Tickets now on sale for our December 10th showing of “It’s A Wonderful Life” being show in its original format of 35mm film!

For box office information, click here!

To donate now, click here!

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Northwestern Medicine Provides Egyptian Theatre Support

Photo from left to right: Egyptian Theatre Board President – Dan Schewe, Egyptian Theatre Executive Director – Alex Nerad, and Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital President- Jay Anderson.

DeKalb, IL – The Egyptian Theatre in Downtown DeKalb is proud to announce that Northwestern Medicine has committed $25,000 per year over the next three years at the historic theatre.

“The Egyptian Theatre is a cultural icon of this community and we are pleased to provide this support,” said Jay Anderson, president of Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Valley West Hospital. “The Egyptian has a wonderful cultural impact within our community and beyond, benefiting people in this entire region.”

Egyptian Theatre Board President Dan Schewe accepted the check from Northwestern Medicine and thanked them for their support. “The Egyptian Theatre has been on a positive growth path for a number of years,” Schewe said. “This community support will allow the Theatre to further our mission and take our impact to new heights.”

Alex Nerad, Egyptian Theatre executive director, spoke about the impact of Northwestern Medicine’s support: “We’re having conversations about integrating the arts further into the local healthcare system.” Nerad continued, “Americans for the Arts, a national organization, has done extensive research that demonstrates that creative arts in healthcare can contribute to many different positive outcomes. We’re excited to explore this partnership and look forward to collaborating on programs for the community.”

Once one of over one hundred Egyptian Theatres throughout the United States, today the Egyptian in DeKalb is one of only seven remaining and is the only one east of the Rocky Mountains. With 1,400 seats, the Egyptian Theatre is host to a variety of events every year, including host to over 30 different community organizations.

Northwestern Medicine provides world class care near where their patients live and work in DeKalb County. The local Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center has an existing relationship with the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute designated center that earned a number one ranking in Illinois and the Chicago Metro Region.  An emerging relationship with the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute brings cardiovascular services ranked sixth in the nation to our local patients. For more information about Northwestern Medicine, visit

The Egyptian Theatre, located at 135 N. 2nd Street in Downtown DeKalb, IL is owned and operated by Preservation of Egyptian Theatre, Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  For more information on upcoming events, to make a donation, or to volunteer visit the Egyptian Theatre website at


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Egyptian Theatre Volunteers Restore Vintage 35mm Projection System

Interview conducted by: Jesse Moore – Egyptian Theatre Intern

The Egyptian Theatre is proud and thankful for our strong core of volunteers because each individual has such unique experiences and talents. This month, we would like to thank two very special volunteers in particular. Orion Carey works in the finance industry and Dan Woodshank works in the technology sector. Yet, these extremely bright and young professionals still find time in their busy lives to volunteer at the Egyptian Theatre. We recently had the chance to interview this team about their special volunteer project.

(Orion Carey-Chairman, Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Committee)

Jesse: What is your favorite part of volunteering at the Egyptian Theatre?

Orion: When the front doors open for a show and the crowd starts to file in, the look on people’s faces when they take in the wonder of our historic theatre for the first time makes me feel great about doing everything I can to make sure the Egyptian remains a focal point of entertainment and pride for our community.

Jesse: How did you become involved with the Egyptian Theatre?

Orion: I ran across an article asking for help to restore and install a classic Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ. By reaching out to the Egyptian’s Executive Director, I discovered the theatre’s heavy reliance on volunteers and just wanted to do my part to preserve Dekalb’s downtown gem.

(Dan Woodshank preparing to eject a film-reel)

Jesse: Can you explain to our audience what your special project is?

Orion: Yes!! We have taken on the task of restoring the Egyptian’s 35mm projection system to show vintage film, thereby returning a classic cinema experience to the region.

Jesse: What has been the most gratifying part of working on this project?

Orion: Breathing life into this old equipment and being able to return the “Golden Age of Hollywood” to the Egyptian is what I find most gratifying.

(Orion Carey splicing two film-reels together)

Jesse: How long have you been working on this project, and what is its expected completion date?

Orion: Conservatively, we have spent over 100 hours on this project. But, you have to remember that this is a labor of love and it’s not about the hours. Due to some time-consuming speed-bumps, we anticipate having things ready to roll by the end of the year. It’s hard to set an explicit completion date, though, because the equipment is old and we have testing to go through.

Jesse: What kind of testing?

Orion: First, we have to be fire-inspected. These projection booths seal any potential flames within, and it’s one of our most important next steps if we are going to show nitrate-based 35mm film. We also need to be inspected in order to show archival footage from the Library of Congress whose selection of 35mm films is one of the largest in the world!

(The source of light for these projectors is a burning copper fuel-                                             rod. Notice the intense, super-energized white light!)

Jesse: How big is your team, and are you looking for further assistance on this project?

Orion: My good friend, Dan Woodshank, is working on the projector-restoration project with me. We outsource for professional assistance when needed but have been handling the vast majority of the work ourselves. There is still work to be done, from simple projects like plaster repair and painting to more complex projects like plumbing and electricity maintenance. We are very fortunate to have knowledgeable people supporting our efforts but are always open to further assistance from interested parties. We are definitely interested in receiving in-kind donations of film and projection hardware.

Jesse: In our world of digital cinema, what effects do you hope your efforts have?

Orion: Foremost, I want to put on a truly great show. But of course, I want the legacy of the Egyptian to live on for decades, and this could be one great way to do that! Finally, I want to make people aware of the art of projecting in 35mm and to inspire the next generation of artists to shoot and project using this medium. As it stands, 35mm projection actually produces a more clear and crisp image than any digital projection system to date.

(Dan Woodshank-Egyptian Theatre Volunteer)

Click here, to learn more about volunteering at the Egyptian Theatre!

The Egyptian Theatre Projection System Restoration Team is currently looking for some specific in-kind donations of projection hardware. If you think you may have such an item, please contact Orion Carey by email at your earliest convenience: [email protected]

Donate Now, to support projects like these, and many more!

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Three More Shows Added For 2018!

We’re excited to announce these three phenomenal shows are coming in 2018!


The Egyptian Theatre is proud to present “Jazz at the Egyptian” featuring performances by the DeKalb High School Jazz Ensemble, the Sycamore High School Jazz Ensemble, the NIU Jazz Orchestra and Jazz In Progress.  Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind concert featuring performances by the area Jazz ensembles.  Proceeds from the event will support the individual music programs.


Sail On: The Beach Boys Tribute focuses on performing songs by America’s Band, The Beach Boys, to sheer perfection. Members of Sail On have performed with musicians from Brian Wilson’s band, The Zombies, Earth Wind and Fire, Cheap Trick, Mark Lindsay and produced recordings for Micky Dolenz.


 Bagpipes with attitude.  Drums with a Scottish accent. A blazing rock band and show so hot, it carries its own health warning! It’s Bagpipes. It’s Rock. It’s Bagrock. AC/DC meets the poet Robert Burns. Where rock anthems sit comfortably alongside the great tunes from the glens and the mountains of Scotland.

It’s The Red Hot Chilli PIPERS – (NOT the Peppers!) — a 9-piece ensemble consisting of pipers, guitarists, keyboards, and drummers — who have been rocking the world from New York to Beijing to Melbourne and everywhere in between with musicianship of the highest order and a passion for pipes that will leave you breathless.  The band has four music degrees from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and all the pipers and drummers have played at the top level in bagpiping.

Since they walked away with the top prize on the primetime TV talent show, “When Will I Be Famous” in the U.K. in 2007, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers haven’t stopped for a breath, other than to inflate their bagpipes!  Formed in 2002, The Chillis have fast become a global phenomenon, taking their signature ‘Bagrock’ sound to the masses with their unique fusion of rocked up Bagpipes and clever covers of popular songs from all genres.  Their trademarked sound is a unique fusion of traditional pipe tunes – like “The Flowers of Scotland”, “The Hills of Argyll”, and “Amazing Grace” (done Chilli-style, of course!) — and contemporary anthems like Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, “Clocks” by Coldplay, “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol, “Let Me Entertain You” by Robbie Williams, and a fantastic rock medley of “Deep Purple”, “Smoke on the Water”, and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”.

Special pre-sale for Friends of the Egyptian Theatre members starts Tuesday, November 21 at 10:00 AM.

Tickets go on-sale to the general public Friday, November 24 at 10:00 AM.

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The Manhattan Transfer Conducts NIU Masterclass

Written by:  Jesse Moore - Egyptian Theatre Intern

You may know The Manhattan Transfer as a successfully touring band of A Capella, jazz and blues singers. They are true masters of their craft. What you may not know about them: they are also amazing teachers.

Their passion is self-evident.

(Cheryl Bentyne of The Manhattan Transfer engaging with the NIU choir)

Their prowess is undeniable.

(Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer driving a soloist)

Their taste is impeccable.

(Paul Allen of The Manhattan Transfer: This King Can Swing!)

The Manhattan Transfer came to perform at the Egyptian Theatre on the night of October 19th, 2017, as a part of the band’s 45th Anniversary Tour. But for a few Northern Illinois University music students, that afternoon was the unforgettable part of their day.

It was a great honor that The Manhattan Transfer conducted a masterclass for these young intellectuals and performers on Northern Illinois University’s DeKalb Campus. The wisdom the band imparted, the hope they inspired, could be felt throughout the room that day. Students performed, then they listened and they learned from the best in the business. We were even joined by the DeKalb High School choir who got to partake in the event as well.

(DeKalb High School students performing for The Manhattan Transfer during a masterclass at Northern Illinois University)

The Egyptian Theatre is thankful for having been able to partner with Northern Illinois University and DeKalb High School choral students to provide this educational masterclass opportunity with The Manhattan Transfer nearly one-month ago.  This event showcased the unique opportunities we bring as a regional center for culture and the arts.

(The Manhattan Transfer with Eric Johnson, Professor and Coordinator of Choral Activities for Northern Illinois University)

Click here, for information about upcoming Egyptian Theatre events!

Click here, to learn more about other local arts organizations!

Donate Now to support opportunities like these, and more!

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