Celebrated Author Rich Benjamin at Raue Center

Rich Benjamin, a celebrated author, speaker, political analyst, and cultural anthropologist, will visit Raue Center on May 22, 2022 at 3 p.m. to present The Divided States of America: Big National Transformations, Small Towns. This special presentation and Q&A moderated by James Knight will discuss Benjamin’s personal experiences engaging with communities in small-town America and his deft observations of modern society, culture, and politics with the goal of building understanding and openness.

“I believe that adaptation requires openness,” said Benjamin. “It requires a willingness to understand others, a willingness to understand oneself. And I believe in that willingness comes an openness to change.”

Benjamin’s cultural and political analyses appear regularly in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, and on National Public Radio. His scholarly research has received support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Brown University, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Benjamin has a B.A. in English and Political Science from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University. He sits on the Board of Trustees of the Authors Guild, the national union of writers that has been protecting authors’ rights and free speech since 1912.

Benjamin is the author of Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America, which was selected as an Editor’s Choice by Booklist and the American Library Association. This groundbreaking study is one of few to have illuminated in advance the rise of white anxiety and white nationalism in contemporary public U.S. life. Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of Nickel and Dimed, calls Searching for Whitopia “a daring feat of the 21st-century exploration that will have you laughing and shuddering at the same time.” The book is now in its second printing. Benjamin is currently working on a new book, Talk to Me.

Don’t miss this timely discussion with one of America’s finest scholars. For tickets click here.

Raue Center For The Arts
26 N. Williams St.
Crystal Lake, IL 60014




(Crystal Lake, IL) Downtown Crystal Lake Board President Ben Volling announced that Lynn

Reckamp has been selected as the Main Street organization’s new Executive Director. Reckamp will replace Diana Kenney, who is retiring after more than 20 years of leadership. Lynn Reckamp of Lake in the Hills will begin in the position on February 28, 2022.

Lynn Reckamp was most recently employed by A to Z Interiors of Crystal Lake as the Store Manager. She has worked in Downtown Crystal Lake for more than 7 years. With a Bachelor’s of Art from Columbia College of Chicago, Lynn brings years of experience in sales, marketing, social media and volunteer leadership. A member of the Service League of Crystal Lake, and mother of four and Ms. Reckamp served on the Downtown Crystal Lake Marketing Committee for many years.

“Lynn Reckamp will bring new ideas to build upon the current success of the Downtown organization,” explained Ben Volling. “Diana Kenney will be available to assist in onboarding our new Executive Director, providing a smooth transition.

“On behalf of the Downtown Board of Directors, I encourage our members, historic district, and community at large to welcome Lynn and support her in her new position.”

Downtown Crystal Lake Main Street features unique shops, restaurants, arts, culture and family-friendly fun. For more information, maps, and event calendar, visit www.DowntownCL.org


CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. – January 19, 2022 – Raue Center For The Arts is excited to welcome the Crystal Lake Strikers for “An Evening of Percussion” at 7 p.m. on February 19, 2022. Returning for the twelfth year, this community fundraiser helps the Strikers grow their educational and performing programs!

“Evening of Percussion has become an annual tradition at Raue Center. Be ready for a fun-filled, fast-paced, and exciting evening,” says Board President, Tim Paul. “We are always proud to present shows that highlight our local talent, as this presentation always does.”

Evening of Percussion will feature multiple groups of outstanding performers from all over the region, including Girls on the Drum (drumline for middle school girls), the Crystal Lake Thunder (competitive winter drumline), the Strikers All-Stars (high school drumline), the Kingpins (drumline for special needs performers), the Convergence Winter Guard and more to present a high-energy night of entertainment. The Strikers will also award scholarships to local high school students including the Tim Althoff Memorial Scholarship, the William Laskey Memorial Scholarship, and the inaugural Aaron Shepley Memorial Scholarship during the event.

The Crystal Lake Strikers was formed in the fall of 2007 when three area men sat in a local coffee shop imagining the possibility of forming an organization that would achieve the essential goals of providing a performing outlet for drummers of college-age and beyond as well as supporting and educating aspiring young performers. For more information on the organization, visit www.clstrikers.com.

This Crystal Lake favorite is sure to be a sell-out! Tickets start at $15 ($8 for students) and may be purchased online at rauecenter.org or via the Box Office at 815.356.9212 or at 26 N. Williams Street in downtown Crystal Lake. For information on the Crystal Lake Strikers, visit clstrikers.com.


UPDATED COVID POLICY! Raue Center appreciates your help in our efforts to keep the theater a safe environment for all. As of 2.16.22 Raue Center NO LONGER requires vaccination or negative tests for entry to shows and events. Masks continue to be required while in the theater unless actively eating or drinking. For more information visit rauecenter.org/covid/

About Raue Center For The Arts
Raue Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of all through the arts. For 20 years, they have provided quality programming – striving to make it pertinent, available, and affordable to all. As a painstakingly restored, 1920s regional showcase theatre named for its benefactor—Lucile Raue—Raue Center has attracted the finest stars, Broadway shows, musicians and artists. Named on the League of Historic American Theatres, Raue Center is one of the finest examples of restored art and decor in the nation. The 750-seat theatre, located in historic downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, is a gathering place for our region’s citizens and has become a true destination.

For additional information, visit rauecenter.org, facebook.com/RaueCenter, and twitter.com/RaueCenter.

Creative Differences

Fostering community through the arts.

by Maribeth Ling, box office lead at Raue Center For The Arts

Patrons have flocked to the Theater since as early as the fifth century, looking for a supportive and immersive experience. To be transported out of their own lives and into those on stage. It’s one of the things I love about the Theater: a passion my family helped instill in me.

One of the first live performances that I can recall seeing was my Uncle performing in 1776 at the Shady Lane Theater in Marengo. That performance steered me to want to try acting for myself. so my twin sister and I joined a production of Oliver Twist shortly after. It was an experience that led me to realize that I didn’t like being on stage. I enjoyed being behind the scenes much more than being in the spotlight. My sister, on the other hand, loved being onstage.

David M. Rubenstein once said that “The Performing Arts tend to unify people in a way nothing else does.” That is the beauty of the Theater. No matter who you are, there will be something that speaks to you—Introverts versus Extroverts, Music people versus Orators, Dramas versus Comedies. There is room for everyone at the Theater, whether they want to be in the spotlight or behind the scenes. My sister and I are a lot alike in many ways, but the theater gave us a place to express our differences and still share in a common experience.

I first came to Raue Center For The Arts in High School. My choir performed on its stage every year during the second semester. When we arrived, the first thing we took note of was its beauty. You can’t help but look around in awe at the Spanish-style décor. The lobby’s tile flooring and ironwork are not found in many areas. We couldn’t wait to perform on the stage, under the starlit sky. It’s a beautiful but relaxed environment.

Later on, I came to see the Whirling Dervishes, movie screenings, several WSR shows, and even a comedian or two. It wasn’t until I started to work here, however, that I understood what Raue Center for the Arts means to the Community. The Theater has a part in community events such as the Bob Blazier Run, the Johnny Appleseed Festival, and the 6×6 project. They provide space to different Dance studios and host their educational programs and shows. Marshall McLuhan once said, “Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.” Through Education, they allow students to come into their own, developing their interests and help create their sense of community that will carry on for years to come.

I have never seen a more peer encouraged, supportive group of children than the students at Raue Center School For The Arts. The variety that is offered allows everyone to get involved in the Arts.

One of the best parts of my job is hearing about how the Raue has affected its patrons. We have had patrons come in with their families to share their memories in the building. Recently, a patron talked with me about how they used to work in the building when it was a movie theater. It was fun to listen to his memories of what the building looked like. I’ve overheard patrons talking about how they lived in the upstairs apartments, currently our 26N Lounge space. Another patron talked about how participating in the 6×6 project reignited their passion for art. Raue Center for the Arts is enriching lives for the best through the power of Performing Arts; I had no idea how much it was needed until I became a part of it.

Photo by Todd Heintz Photography.


Raue Center sits down with John Jacobsen, principal of Glacier Ridge Elementary School and board member of Raue Center, to learn more about a cool annual event in McHenry County…the Norge Ski Jump.

How long have you been an emcee and why do you do it?

I have been announcing for 19 years. I started because Connor, my son, was jumping and they were needing someone to help with music and announcing at tournaments.


How was this year’s crowd compared to last year?  What made it such a success?

The crowd was huge this year. Last year was small mostly due to COVID, but this year we had about 3-4,000 0n Saturday and Sunday. It helped that this year is an Olympic year.


How old is Norge?

The club started in 1905. The original members were Norwegian immigrants that traveled to Fox River Grove from Chicago. The meeting minutes are all in Norwegian for the first 20-30 years.


You are the VP at the Raue and they just sponsored the event. Do you think it’s a good fit?

It’s absolutely a great fit. Both the theater and the ski jump club have deep historical roots in McHenry County.


Who are the jumpers to look for in the future?  Anyone in the Olympics from Norge?

This year, three of the four USA Ski Jumping team members that are going to the Olympics are from Norge. Kevin Bickner and Casey Larson are going to their second games and Patrick Gasienica will be in his first. There are a handful of Norge jumpers to watch that are on track to being future Olympians.

Take a look at this year’s Norge Jump!


Raue Center, with current and past Board Presidents Tim Paul and Matt Turk,  proudly presented its Williams Dwyer President’s Award to Susen H. Berg and Rich Naponelli on November 26, 2021. 

Raue Center welcomed an intimate group comprised of lifelong friends and more than four generations of family from all over the country to a private reception to celebrate the honorees.  “Rich Naponelli and Susen H. Berg have dedicated more than 65 years of their lives to provide for more than 1 million adults and over 350,000 students,”  said executive director of Raue Center, Richard Kuranda. The event lasted two hours and included the presentation of the award and heartfelt speeches celebrating their hopes for the future of our great community.

Throughout Raue Center’s 20 year history, Rich Naponelli and Susan Berg have helped ensure that Raue Center achieves its mission to “Bring the Arts to All” and maintain its status as a cultural, educational, and economic cornerstone of McHenry County. The award is given at the discretion of the Board of Directors and the Executive Director and is not necessarily awarded every year.

“Despite the incredible positive impact they have made on our community throughout their lives, the Dwyer Award is not intended as a “Lifetime Achievement Award.”  We know that both Rich and Susen are not done sculpting their impact on society.  Celebrating their hard work and achievements with this award is a way of rededicating ourselves to the values and standards they embody as we pursue new goals and new ways of enhancing life for all.” explained Richard Kuranda, Executive Director.

A founding Board Member and original member of the Civic Center Authority, Susen H. Berg was instrumental in Raue Center’s beginnings.  Her passion for the arts and her love for her hometown of Crystal Lake helped set the foundations for future artistic and economic success.

Current Board member and former Sage Products CFO, Rich Naponelli, has brought shrewd financial guidance and dedication to children in the arts that helped set a steady course for the historic theater and championed its growing educational initiatives.

Joining previous award recipients Paula Dorion-Gray, Chuck Stevens, and Matt Turk, Susen and Rich continue the legacy of commitment to Raue Center and to the mission of providing Arts For All.


Bronze reliefs designed by Charlotte and Erik Blome and commemorating the award winners will be installed over the next Quarter in the historic theater.  Raue Center is proud to have the work artistry of these local and world-renowned artists on display for generations to come.  


About the William H. Dwyer Presidents Award – The Raue President’s Award (The Dwyer Award) symbolizes the institutional advancement of Raue Center’s mission to enrich the lives of all through the arts. The leaders receiving this award have proven themselves to be selfless pillars of the community who are willing to invest their time, their energies, and most importantly, their influence, as they help create a space where the arts can flourish. Internationally renowned sculptor and Crystal Lake resident, Charlotte Blome, created the original artwork for the Award with assistance from her husband, Erik Blome.


About Raue Center For The Arts

Raue Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of all through the arts. For 20 years, they have provided quality programming – striving to make it pertinent, available, and affordable to all. As a painstakingly restored, 1920s regional showcase theatre named for its benefactor—Lucile Raue—Raue Center has attracted the finest stars, Broadway shows, musicians and artists. Named on the League of Historic American Theatres, Raue Center is one of the finest examples of restored art and decor in the nation. The 750-seat theatre, located in historic downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, is a gathering place for our region’s citizens and has become a true destination. 


For additional information, visit rauecenter.org, facebook.com/RaueCenter, and twitter.com/RaueCenter.