Circle Theater’s reputation as a cosmopolitan playhouse has a luster that far exceeds the very humble space it has occupied on Madison Street for almost two decades. Critical acclaim aside, for the theater to have thrived the way it has in a community that yearns to shake its reputation as a backwater bar crawl is a tremendous credit to its quality.
Which is why there is so much to be worried about now that the property that houses this most valuable asset is up for grabs.
It is not a foregone conclusion, but it’s likely that the mixed-use building at 7300 Madison St. will be sold. In and of itself, this isn’t a cause for panic but the obvious concern is whether Circle Theater will be given the boot.
In our story on page one, the developer negotiating for the site declined to speak directly to this issue until some time when a deal has been finalized. He did, however, give a nod to the role that Circle Theater has played in the community’s development. The mayor has said he will lend whatever political muscle he can to the theater’s cause, and a board member from the performance group said they have at least another 54 months on their lease.
Of course, the developer’s acknowledgement could simply be a polite gesture and the mayor’s sway as a public official has no direct power over private business. The theater’s leaders, meanwhile, are testing the waters to see what opportunities exist in other communities.
For fans of the theater and those who are impressed with how Madison Street is beginning to make a new name for Forest Park, the loss of Circle Theater would truly be devastating. Ultimately, it’s not important whether these award winning performances continue on the same stage. What is important is that they continue in Forest Park.
Theater-goers in search of a complete evening eat and shop at other Forest Park businesses. Performers who would otherwise ignore the village are forced to see us because of Circle Theater’s caliber. Residents who enjoy thumbing their nose at Oak Park have a gem to be proud of.
Whatever your reasons for supporting Circle Theater’s continued presence in the village, we would encourage you to lend your voice to the cause.
We can all breathe easier now
The most sensible argument for not having a ban on smoking in public places has thankfully been rendered moot by state legislators who approved statewide restrictions last month. By leveling the playing field in Illinois, it can no longer be said that customers will wander in search of businesses that cater to their preferences.
Smokers are still free to light up at home, in their cars, on the street, at the park and a host of other places where they may feel so inclined. They just can’t do it where the rest of us would be forced to endure their habit. Look on the bright side smokers, now you won’t have those pesky non-smokers stealing all your fumes with their breathing.