Libertyville dad keeps musical theater alive
Barry Reszel of Libertyville is executive director of Liberty Town Productions, a non-profit community theater and entertainment group based in Libertyville. | JOHN ROSZOWSKI~SUN-TIMES MEDIA
NAME: Barry Reszel
OCCUPATION: Stay-at-home dad, freelance writer
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Executive director/president of Liberty Town Productions, a non-profit community theater and entertainment company in Libertyville; formerly served for one year on the Libertyville Village Board
WORDS TO LIVE BY: Life is too short to do too many things that aren’t fun
Updated: August 27, 2012 6:18AM
LIBERTYVILLE — Barry Reszel brings his passion for community theater and music to the shows he helps produce for Liberty Town Productions.
“I love it. The arts are life giving. Music and theater, that’s the stuff of the soul,” said the 48-year-old Libertyville resident. Reszel is executive director and president of Liberty Town Productions, a non-profit entertainment company dedicated to fostering local talent and producing high-quality theatrical, musical and other fine arts performances for the community.
The idea for Liberty Town Productions was started by a small group of residents, including Reszel, Terry Bangs, Lizz Dabney, Cathy Heller and Dustin Helvie, who produced successful musical productions of “Godspell” and “Children of Eden” at St. Joseph’s Church in 2006 and 2007. After the church decided it no longer wanted to do musical shows, the group decided to form its own local entertainment company.
“What brought us together was our interest in doing musical theater,” said Reszel. “We all love musical theater, but we do other things as well. We are an entertainment company, kind of founded on a common love for musical theater.”
Since its founding in December 2008, Liberty Town Productions has produced five musicals, two a cappella concerts, a Valentine’s Day show and a Christmas carol sing-a-long, among other events. It has also staged three Broadway summer musical showcases, with the fourth coming up on July 28 at the Fuel Room at Austin’s Saloon and Eatery in Libertyville.
Reszel said the entertainment company has helped unleash some wonderful local talent from Libertyville and surrounding communities. While based in Libertyville, auditions are open to anyone and they also get performers from surrounding towns like Vernon Hills, Mundelein, Grayslake, Waukegan and Buffalo Grove.
‘Quality bar high’
“We have been able to keep the quality bar very high for the shows we do. There are people who audition for these shows who you think should be doing it professionally,” he said.
The father of two and a stay-at-home dad, Reszel said he tries to make the shows fun for the performers while producing the best show possible.
“I feel very parental when I’m leading or producing a show,” he said. “I have a desire to take care of our cast, our directors, our musicians and everyone involved in putting on the show. My real goal is that we feel like we’re part of a family.”
In less than four years, the entertainment company has made a name for itself in the Libertyville community, but like other non-profit organizations faces challenges.
Reszel said a major challenge is finding venues for its productions. While Austin’s restaurant and St. Lawrence Episcopal Church have been very generous in providing space, he said it is often difficult to find a venue for large theatrical productions.
“We have wonderful facilities for athletics between the parks and sports complex, but the same is not true for our performing artists,” he said. “Long term, there should be facilities for performing arts in Libertyville.”
Another challenge is fund-raising. An average musical can cost about $10,000 to produce and it’s often difficult to raise enough through ticket sales to offset the cost of the production. He said he would like to be able to increase the amount of money they get through individual donations, business sponsorships and corporate donations.
“We’re solvent but it would be nice to have a little bit more of a cushion to fall back on,” he said. “We pretty much work from show to show. It’s kind of like living from paycheck to paycheck.”
For more information about Liberty Town Productions, visit the organization’s website at www.libertytownproductions.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.