Loyola photo By Mark Beane
By Liza Massingberd
Comedian Bob Newhart returned to his alma mater, Loyola University Chicago Saturday to celebrated the grand opening of the Newhart Family Theater .
Newhart and other family members cut the ribbon on the new theater, which was followed by performances by Loyola’s very own theater department, dance team and Jazz band.
Loyola welcomed more than 200 students, faculty members, alumni and special guests, members of the Newhart Family, as they gathered to commemorate this momentous day for the Department of Fine and Performing Arts.
Newhart, a 1952 Loyola graduate, won album of the year in 1960 beating out Elvis Presley, The Sound of Music, and Frank Sinatra. “ He later went on to star in the hit television comedy, The Bob Newhart Show, and more recently appeared in movies, such as “Elf.”
The opening of the event began with a speech given by Sarah Gabel, the Chairperson for the Department of Fine and Performing Arts.
“Artists can make art anywhere,” Gabel said. “Dancers can entertain audiences in a park, a painter can create a masterpiece in a rundown wear house, musicians can play a sonata at an L platform, and a group of theater artists can transform a tiny storefront into the streets of Verona. Its true, artists don’t need beautiful state-of-the art facilities in which to exercise their creativity, but when we have these spaces, as we now have at Loyola, it inspires us to create works of art we might never have imagined otherwise.”
The Musical Theater Repertoire class followed Gabel’s speech by performing Something To Point To from the musical Working. Performer, Alexandra Burch, 21, a senior theater major was enthused by how the musical performance went.
“It was really exciting to perform for everyone for the first time on the new stage,” Burch said. “I think we did really well.”
Mark Lococo, Director of the Theater Department, brought the ceremony to a close by thanking the Newharts for their generous donation and presenting a preview of Lake is East, a scene from Illuminating Voices: A Collection of Short Plays by Loyolans that will be will premier on Nov. 2 as the first ever production to be performed in the Newhart Family Theater.
“Lake is East is the story of two tour guides whose lives collide in an unexpected way,” performer Angela Sandal, 20, a junior theater major said. “They’re both giving separate tours of Loyola’s campus while telling the same story about a nun and end up crossing paths for the first time. It tells stories of the past but also looks to the future, which is very appropriate for this event.”
Once the dedication was over, Brian Tochterman, 21, a senior and theater major, invited the audience to the Mundelein auditorium for hot jazz, cold refreshments, and plenty of dancing.
“A lot of work went in to this opening,” Tochterman said. “It was a lot of fun and a very rewarding process. I am very proud of what we accomplished today.”