Midsummer gala celebrates Lake Forest’s Citadel Theatre

Despite its odd behavior, the summer weather performed well in the role of “temperate” for Citadel Theatre Company’s 1st Annual Summer Gala held at the David Adler-designed Mundelein cottage of Lake Forest residents Nancy and Adrian Smith on July 19.

“This is the first outdoor function that we’ve had, certainly at this level,” said Scott Phelps, Citadel co-founder, of the festivities that included a performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

As supporters of Citadel Theatre since they decided on a whim to see one of its productions a few years ago, the Smiths invited more than 300 guests to wander about their home and enjoy dinner, live music and the Shakespearean production on their lawn overlooking about 3,000 rolling acres of open lands.

“We do theater hikes, outreach to senior centers and have North Chicago, Zion, Waukegan schools to come in and see our plays; so funds will support those outreach efforts, as well as well as our educational offerings and the main stage,” Phelps said. The event ultimately raised $45,000 to support Citadel programs.

Scott and wife Ellen Phelps, both Lake Forest residents, founded the Lake Forest theater in 2002 out of necessity. They explained that they grew tired of the long trek to the city required when they wanted to enjoy professional theater.

Today, the Citadel produces dramas, comedies, new works, contemporary and classical selections, and has since moved from the basement of the Gorton Community Center into a renovated, 150-seat theater at Lake Forest High School’s West Campus at 300 S. Waukegan Road.

The allure of both the cottage and its owners — Nancy, an esteemed artist, and Adrian, the world-renowned architect who designed the Trump Tower in Chicago and the tallest building in the world in Dubai — helped attract a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd that seemed eager to bid on auction items that included a 7-night Mediterranean yachting voyage, Therese Crowe custom jewelry and premium box club tickets for the Chicago White Sox.

Guests that evening also enjoyed music from the Joe Freer Quintent and Rafael Mendez & the Fabulous Houserockers, entertainment from actors on stilts and in wings and a tented-dinner.

Citadel’s fall season opens with “Death Trap” on Sept. 5. For more information, call (847) 735-8554 or see citadeltheatre.org.

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