Pulse: Drury Lane, World Book Night, Howard Dean, Ben Vereen

When you’ve survived cancer, anything that comes afterward is special — especially if you’re performing in one of the most treasured theatrical productions of all time.

Lara Filip, 41, of Naperville, will perform beginning April 23 in Drury Lane Theatre for Young Adults’ production of “Sleeping Beauty.” Filip said she will play the role of “Ruby” — a character, she said, “that is sort of the Mary Poppins of the fairies.”

“She’s kind of the general head of the fairies, and this is the role I tried out for,” she said. “I was an understudy for the same role once at the Marriott Lincolnshire, and she is a great character who also gets to sing a great song.”

Filip says surviving cancer has given her a new perspective on life and that “being proactive about your health — given the advances in modern medicine — is the best thing you can do.”

She adds she is looking forward to the children’s theater production.

“There is a magic and innocence about kids, and when you’ve been close to something terrible happening in your life, something like this is joyful and cool,” she said. “I like theater, as I’m very passionate about maintaining the oral tradition of storytelling and keeping that alive.”

The play runs through June 7. For tickets visit www.drurylane.com/live-theatre/childrens-theatre.

To Be

World Book Night comes to Anderson’s

Shakespeare remains one of the world’s most beloved and recognized authors. His birthday is later this month on April 23. So it seems fitting that on the same day, 2,300 bookstores and libraries across America, including Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, will participate in World Book Night.

On that day, 25,000 volunteers plan to give away half a million books in more than 6,000 towns and cities across America. Candice Purdom, of Anderson’s Bookshop, said the store will host a reception for volunteers April 21.

“This is a special event where the big national publishers print special ‘World Book Night’ paperback editions of books from a prepared list, and we’ll be giving 20 copies of brand new books to people to give away, based on the choice of book they selected a few months before this event,” Purdom said. “People to go shelters, train stations, libraries, food banks, or wherever they want to give books to anyone they see. The toughest part of this is convincing people there is no catch — it’s just a free book.”

Book choice selections for World Book Night include best-selling adult and young adult authors as well as books in Spanish and large-print editions. They also include a wide range of subject matter, age, ethnicity and gender.

Purdom said she chose Scott Turow’s “Presumed Innocent” as her title this year.

“I know Scott, and I also think it’s a terrific book,” she said.

Purdom said this will be the third year World Book Night is being celebrated in the U.S. The event began in England in 2011 and is always celebrated on Shakespeare’s birthday.

Let’s talk

Howard Dean to speak at Benedictine

Remember Howard Dean? He ran for president in 2003. Now you have a chance to hear him out — political ambitions aside.

He will speak at 7 p.m. April 22 on the second floor of the Krasa Student Center on the campus of Benedictine University.

The past chair of the Democratic National Committee and former Vermont governor will discuss his experiences in politics, the future of the Democratic Party and his views on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act during a free presentation.

Dean was invited to speak at Benedictine as part of the nonpartisan Center for Civic Leadership’s speaker series. Established in 2005 under the direction of former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, a 1969 Benedictine graduate and Distinguished Fellow, the CCL seeks to shape a new generation of public leaders and responsible citizens.

“Dean brings tremendous experience in both Democratic politics and the field of medicine,” said Phil Hardy, assistant professor of political science and acting CCL director. “His background, both as a medical doctor and former presidential hopeful, will allow him to discuss health-care reform and the Affordable Care Act from a unique vantage point.”

Dean first entered politics in 1982 as a state representative in Vermont after transitioning from a career as a full-time practicing physician. In 1991, he was elected governor of Vermont, a seat he held for six terms.

In 2003, he left the Vermont governorship to run for president of the United States. Dean is past chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Governors’ Association and the New England Governors’ Conference.

Today, Dean serves as a senior strategic adviser and independent consultant in the Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs practice at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP. He is the founder of Democracy for America, a progressive political action committee.

don’t miss it

Still time to see Ben Vereen

Tickets for a performance by stage and screen legend Ben Vereen on Saturday, April 12, at North Central College are still available.

“Steppin’ Out Live with Ben Vereen” has entertained audiences across the globe, featuring special tributes to Broadway, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. It includes hit songs like “Defying Gravity,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “My Way” and “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries.”

The Tony Award-winner’s one-man show begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 12, in North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave. Tickets are $45, $35 and $30. Call the North Central College box office at 630-637-7469 or visit northcentralcollege.edu/showtix.

Vereen has starred in numerous Broadway productions, including “Wicked,” “Chicago,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Fosse” and more. His role in “Pippin” earned him the Tony Award, as well as the Drama Desk Award for Best Actor in a Musical. In 2012, Vereen was inducted into The Theater Hall of Fame and Dance Hall of Fame and received the Cabaret Award Best Celebrity Male Vocalist from Broadwayworld.com for his two-week run at 54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club.

They’re coming

Moscow Festival Ballet performs ‘Cinderella’

Legendary artistic director Sergei Radchenko is bringing his dance company Moscow Festival Ballet to North Central College on May 2 to perform “Cinderella.”

For Radchenko, former principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet, the Moscow Festival Ballet became a realization of his vision for a company that would bring together the highest classical elements of the great Bolshoi and Kirov Ballet companies in an independent new company within the framework of Russian classic ballet.

Founded by Radchenko in 1989, the Moscow Festival Ballet has toured extensively throughout Europe and the United States, all the while collecting leading dancers across Russia to stage new productions of timeless classics such as “Giselle,” “Don Quixote,” “Paquita” and “Carmen.” It recently completed tours of Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The performance will be at 8 p.m. May 2 in the college’s Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave. Tickets are $35, $25 and $20; call the North Central College box office at 630-637-7469 or visit northcentralcollege.edu/showtix.

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