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Entertainment

Music, storytelling to bring Great Chicago Fire of 1871 to life

'Fire in Boomtown' to be presented June 23 at Glen Ellyn History Center

Megan Wells (left) and Amy Lowe mix music, commentary, theater and history for "Fire in Boomtown," a fact-based show about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The show will be presented at 7 p.m. June 23 at the Glen Ellyn History Center, 800 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn.
Megan Wells (left) and Amy Lowe mix music, commentary, theater and history for "Fire in Boomtown," a fact-based show about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The show will be presented at 7 p.m. June 23 at the Glen Ellyn History Center, 800 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn.

GLEN ELLYN – Through a mix of music, commentary, theater and history, Chicago-area residents Amy Lowe and Megan Wells educate people of all ages about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which killed an estimated 300 people and destroyed thousands of buildings.

"What we do is tell the story," said Lowe, who is the guitarist in the group. "We bring the characters to life... It's a combination of storytelling and music, so it's very engaging."

"Fire in Boomtown," a fact-based show about the Great Chicago Fire, will be presented at 7 p.m. June 23 at the Glen Ellyn History Center, 800 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for Glen Ellyn Historical Society members and $7 for children younger than 18. Tickets are available now at Stacy's Corners Store, 800 N. Main St., or at the door the night of the performance.

Lowe and Wells have been performing "Fire in Boomtown" since the late 1990s. Before putting together the show, they did their fair share of researching the history of Chicago, including reading newspaper clippings.

"The fire stood out," Lowe said. "As we learned more and more about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, we realized, 'This is it. This is the story we're going to tell.'"

They recorded one of their shows for a CD that garnered rave reviews, as well as national awards such as the Parent's Choice Gold Award. The duo regularly performs the show for schools, libraries and historical societies. This is the first time they will perform the show for the Glen Ellyn Historical Society.

As a result of the show's popularity, the duo was asked to write other shows of a historical nature, including a show about immigration and Ellis Island and another show about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

"Fire in Boomtown" ends on an upbeat note.

"We close the show with a celebration of the spirit of Chicago in its rebuilding, that the fire was in fact kind of a big, needed do-over," Wells said. "Once it burned, there was much more attention paid to the rebuild. It's a better planned city."

She is rewarded by the fact that they are able to both entertain and educate an audience.

"The audience enjoying entertainment and education in a memorable way is deeply rewarding," Wells said.

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If you go

What: "Fire in Boomtown"
When: 7 p.m. June 23
Where: Glen Ellyn History Center, 800 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn
Cost: $12 for adults, $10 for Glen Ellyn Historical Society members and $7 for children younger than 18
Info: gehs.org

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