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Community organizers planning talent show to benefit Wheaton Grand renovation

Published: Monday, Sept. 2, 2013 10:59 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 1:04 a.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
Wheaton residents (from left) Jim Atten, Tony Gallagher and Rick Erickson hold up their raffle tickets to raise funds for the renovation of the Wheaton Grand Theater. Erickson is the project manager for the Grand Theater Corporation, which is the nonprofit behind the renovation. In addition to the raffle, the nonprofit will hold a talent show Nov. 30 at Wheaton Warrenville South High School, according to Erickson.

WHEATON – Wheaton’s most talented residents are invited to dust off their tap shoes, polish up their juggling routine and practice that opera solo for the Wheaton’s Got Talent show.

The event is in the planning stages. It will be held Nov. 30 at Wheaton Warrenville South High School to raise money for the renovation of the Wheaton Grand Theater in downtown Wheaton.

Rick Erickson, project manager of the Grand Theater Corporation, said that an Aug. 22 community meeting helped solidify plans for the event. Volunteers involved in the project include City Councilman John Rutledge, members of the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce and local business owners.

“There are lots of people working on it all of a sudden, with the vision of success raising money and awareness,” Erickson said.

The event is being held in addition to an ongoing fundraiser raffle, which was recently extended to Nov. 8. The corporation is hoping the raffle will raise $80,000 for the restoration effort, according to previous reports from Suburban Life Media, with winners receiving $18,000.

Erickson said he would like to provide more information to those interested in participating in the talent show sometime at the end of the month on the Wheaton Grand Theater website. During the audition process, interested participants can submit YouTube videos showcasing their talents. Contestants will be evaluated and eliminated, with the best performers taking part in a live audition in front of a panel of judges.

The cut-off date for auditions will likely be Oct. 15, Erickson said.

The concept for the project was pitched to the event’s organizers online.

“It came out of our social media,” Erickson said. “A lot of people were throwing out ideas and a lot came in, but we thought this could raise money and awareness.”

The group is considering other potential sources of revenue as well, according to Erickson, including turning the theater into a haunted house for Halloween. However, he is focusing on contacting potential business sponsors for the talent show and selling raffle tickets. He hopes to raise an additional $20,000 to $30,000 for the talent show.

Until then, Erickson said, raffle tickets can be purchased on the Wheaton Grand website at wheatongrandtheater.com. Interested donors and sponsors can also contact the corporation through the website.

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