Dinner theater returns to Niles Saturday with Riverfront Cafe performance

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The revival of the Four Flags Players begins Saturday with the premiere production, a special Valentine's Day performance, at the Riverfront Cafe in Niles.
Todd Wakevainen, who is responsible for the revival of the group, will be teaming up with Gloria Cooper to perform A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters."
Williams said the downtown cafe is completely booked for the evening with all of the reservations already taken.
The performance is a reader's theater production, which means the play is delivered through its words only, with no action.
Saturday will mark Cooper's fifth performance of "Love Letters." She said it can make audiences laugh, cry and think.
Both Wakevainen and Cooper were a part of the original Four Flags Players. Cooper was one of the group's founders in the early 1970s and Wakevainen was involved with the group near the end of its existence in the 1980s.
Wakevainen said he was frequently running into old members of the group and the first thing that came up was always something about the Four Flags Players.
He decided to do something about it.
He organized a Jan. 27 meeting for anyone who was interested in theater. Despite one of the winter's worst snow storms, a total of 12 people braved the weather to attend the initial planning meeting.
Wakevainen said the attendees included some people who were interested in acting, some people who were interested in the production of plays and some people who were interested for their children to be involved.
The organizational meeting was basically a discussion of the history of the old Four Flags Players and the future of the the revived group.
Wakevainen was not anticipating their first production to be so soon, but said the idea for "Love Letters" developed out of a conversation he had with Cooper and Williams over lunch at the Riverfront Cafe.
Wakevainen pointed out the Riverfront Cafe has played an important role in bringing back the arts to the Niles community.
Williams said the cafe is looking into the possibility of having readers theater productions on a regular basis.
The production will be followed by a performance from two members of the Coloma-based Deep Fried Pickle Project, who will appropriately be playing love songs.
Leslie Brooks is scheduled to wrap up the evening's entertainment with some light jazz.
Due to the fact that all of the reservations are taken, an encore performance of "Love Letters" may take place next week, if the demand is there.
For anyone interested, please call the Riverfront Cafe at 684-2233.

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