By SUBURBAN LIFE MEDIA comp:00005176da7e:000000025b:6806 /__uuid/a0b62107-0d4d-46a8-96e1-28e407c63e5e/tws-SSM-PlanitFive-0424-Planit-Cook-TWS-Kathy-Kusper-Tracey-Ford.jpg 30 23 1590 2153 1560 2130
Kathy Kusper of Hinsdale works with Musical Director Tracey Ford of La Grange. (Submitted photo)

As a fundraiser for the Theatre of Western Springs, its adult troupe will team with youthful members of its Children's Theatre in the revue “Passport to Broadway.” Musical direction is by opera singer Tracey Ford of La Grange. “There is so much vocal talent at TWS," she says of the 70-member cast singing Broadway favorites. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28.

 It's a foray into musicals in anticipation of next season's 85th anniversary.

For 84 years, TWS has primarily showcased its members in drama and comedy productions. When news that the 85th season (2013-14) might include a bonafide Broadway musical, Bob Baker of Western Springs and Sandra Rasnak of Hinsdale, members of the TWS Board of Governors, thought it a good idea to investigate the vocal strengths of the TWS membership.

 “We wondered if there was enough vocal talent within our ranks to start performing musicals,” Baker says. “We also wanted to have a fundraiser that would be lots of fun for both the performers and the audience. We set some monetary goals as well.”

“Also, we thought it would showcase the unique, multi-generational demographic of TWS/CTWS,” Rasnak adds.  

The dynamic duo of Baker and Rasnak became ad hoc producers for the event. They made the decision that the musical revue would be for anyone at TWS who wished to sing. Voice tests were held but not auditions.

 “Singing in the revue is like a no-cut sport,” Baker says. “It was important that it be fun for everyone.”

Choir friends

Baker sings in the choir at St. John of the Cross Church and is friends with fellow choir member Tracey Elaine Ford of La Grange, a classical singer and voice teacher working in Chicago and the western suburbs. She completed a doctorate of musical arts in voice at the University of Illinois, and performs in opera, recital and religious music, and as a soloist for private events.

Recognizing Ford’s talent and experience, Baker and Rasnak met with the opera singer to brainstorm a musical event for TWS.

“As I got to know Tracey, it was clear that she was not only very talented, but a genuinely warm person with strong communication skills,” Rasnak says. “She possesses the combination of skills we were looking for to direct a diverse group of people.”

Ford agreed to be musical director, and she was given carte blanche on the musical program. She decided on songs from musicals that were set in different countries such as Austria (“Sound of Music”), Spain (“Man of La Mancha”), England (“Oliver”), Polynesia (“South Pacific”), America (“Oklahoma,” “Ragtime,” “Annie Get Your Gun) and a set of songs by Stephen Sondheim.

 Because of the international theme, Ford fittingly named the production “Passport to Broadway.”

“We have nearly 70 singers – adults and students,” Ford says. “There is so much vocal talent at TWS. There is a wonderful sense of community and camaraderie at TWS, and it is a pleasure to see the excitement building among actor-friends who are now singing together.”

Rasnak agrees, noting, “What has surprised me is just how talented the cast members are. After only a few rehearsals with Tracey, they sound wonderful. With this foundation, I have no doubt that the performances will be of high quality and offer our audience a magical experience as we ‘travel’ around the world.

“Very meaningful, too, is how many people in TWS/CTWS have come forward and offered to help us out, paving the way to making ‘Passport’ an artistic and financial success," Rasnak ads. It is that type of support that makes TWS/CTWS a special place.”

The backstage crew includes:

·         Producers: Bob Baker and Sandra Rasnak

·         Stage Manager: Angelee Johns

·         Accompanist: Peter Bromann

·         Sound Tech: Ed Barrow

·         Lighting Designer: Thomas Shutt

·         Fundraising chair: Jennifer Jermano Miller

·         Original promotional art: Bob Baker

Building on the fundraising goal, there will be raffle baskets at the performances.


Theatre of Western Springs is at 4384 Hampton Ave. Tickets cost $18 for subscribers and CTWS parents, $20 for the public, and $8 for people high school age and younger. Call the box office at 708-246-3380 or visit

Adult participants

• LaGrange

Eugenia Callison

Lori D’Asta

Harry Hultgren

Ann Marie Hultgren

John Mueller

Peggy McCaffrey

• LaGrange Park

Marcia Faye

Tim Gannon

• Western Springs

Ann Baker

Bob Baker

Susan Cardamone

Stephanie Stomberg

• Hinsdale

Dorothy Attermeyer

Kathleen Kusper

Jim McBride

• Downers Grove

Ed Belda

Nancy Belda

Elizabeth Salley

 • Clarendon Hills

Mary Ellen Druyan

Cheryle McKay

Lori Proksa

• Burr Ridge

Amanda Ragan

• Brookfield

Charles Kennett

Patricia Politano

Jackie Raschke

• Countryside

Kelli Kopp

• Westchester

Joe Mills

• Glen Ellyn

Maggie Opal

 • Westmont

Theresa Pushkar

 • Naperville

Judy DiVita

 • Oakbrook Terrace

Mary Maureen Gentile

 • West Chicago

Terry Harrold

 • Lisle

Sarah Herndon

 • Willowbrook

Donna Marie Kanak

 • Chicago

Kathy Kovarik

Terry Kozlowski

Joe Savino

 • Homer Glen

David Knezz

 • Forest Park

Carrie Rubenking

 • River Forest

Herb Thompson

 • Sugar Grove

Becca Conditt

Student performers

• LaGrange

Chloe Barnes

Molly Davies

Ellen Kleyweg

• LaGrange Park

Bella Brizz

Tim O’Gallagher

Katharine O’Gallagher

Emma Tiemeyer

• Western Springs

Laney Coyne

Meredith Jenkins

Ben Jouras

Grace McGann

Taylor Schullo

Jane Stockbridge

Adrian Van Stee

London White

• Hinsdale

Ellie Haarlow

• Downers Grove

Ann Marie Walsh

• Indian Head Park

Savannah Cowan

• Clarendon Hills

Erin Crews

Julian Little

• Brookfield

George Kennett

Ruby Kennett

• Darien

Emily Leatherwood

• Countryside

Jonathan Ramicone

• Joliet

Julia Romanowski

• Lyons

Danny Irizarry