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Friday, June 2, 2023

New Entertainment Venue Opens in Downtown St. Charles – Shaw Local

For more than 90 years, the building at 7 S. 2nd Ave. in downtown St. Charles has once again entertained audiences.

The Moonlight Theater opened to the public on February 25 with a sold-out comedy show. From 1914 to 1926, the building was home to the Idle Hour Theatre.

The Moonlight Theater in St. Charles recently opened and plans to offer theatrical productions, music and comedy. The St. Charles City Council recently approved a Historic Landmark designation for the former Free Time Theater at 7 S. 2nd Ave., which was built between 1904 and 1908 and housed the Free Time Theater from 1914 to 1926.

Joseph Mennella co-owns the Moonlight Theater with his mother, Nancy Fioramonti-Mennella.

“We’re excited to bring it back to its original purpose,” Mennella said.

He lived in St. Charles, Fioramonti-Mennella in Batavia. Mennella is the chairman and artistic director of the Moonlight Theatre, and his mother is the venue’s entertainment director.

With some additional modifications, the theater is expected to hold 150 to 200 people. The Moonlight Theater will host regular comedy performances.

Audiences are hungry for comedy shows, Mennella said, especially since the Zanies Comedy Club, which is located at the now-closed Pheasant Run Resort, is no longer open.

“That’s what the region wants,” he said. “So we’re excited to offer it.”

Chicago comedian Vince Maranto was the headliner on opening night at the Moonlight Theatre, where he will make multiple appearances over the next few months.

“He played in Las Vegas, he played in Chicago and all over the Midwest,” Mennella said. “He’s one of the best Zanies cartoonists in the area.”

The Moonlight Theater will join other St. Charles venues in offering theater productions, such as the Steel Beam Theater and the Marquee Youth Stage.

“We strive to be another professional theater in town that provides great entertainment, and we’re excited to be a piece of the puzzle,” Mennella said.

The Moonlight Theater will also feature live music. Area musician Annalee Hooson will perform on March 9th and on March 31st Leslie Hunt of St. Charles will take the stage.

Hunter, who entered the final 10 female contestants on “American Idol” in 2007, recently opened the Hunter House Creative Arts Center near the Moonlight Theatre. Hunt House is a music arts school/performance space offering private and group lessons for children, teens and adults.

“We’re happy to have Leslie here,” Mennella said. “We support her 100 percent, so we want to work with her too.”

Fioramonti-Mennella said the Moonlight Theater will also host artist showcases. They plan to partner with other businesses downtown.

“We just want everyone to support each other and work together,” she said. “People in this community have supported us tremendously.”

The Moonlight Theater can also be rented out for various events, including weddings. For more information on Moonlight Theatre, visit their website at moonlighttheatre.com.

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