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No sibling rivalry here, folks, as Bloomington's Castle Theatre unveils its new sister venue in Peoria this weekend.

The 1,500-seat Monarch Music Hall, located in the venue formerly known as Limelight Eventplex at 8102 N. University St., is officially billed on the Monarch website in sibling terms.

In an earlier interview, co-owner Rory O'Connor indicated that the 1,500-seat Limelight configuration would likely be tweaked down to 1,300 "for comfort" (the Castle is smaller in capacity by about 500 seats).

The kickoff show, at 7 p.m. Saturday, isn't being treated in grand opening terms, we're told.

It's a concert fundraiser for Peoria PBS affiliate WTVP, and it's well-stocked with some familiar area talent, including PhanieRae & The Soul Shakers, Chicago Farmer, Woodland Remedy and The Deep Hollow.

According to Castle operations manager Jay Lowers, "this is an easier glide-in show with local talent," most of whom the Castle management has worked with before at the Bloomington venue.

Lowers says no major cosmetic changes to the physical environment should be apparent to patrons familiar with the Limelight, which debuted there four years ago, and became the Castle's main competition in this market.

Aurally speaking, however, the changes should be immediately apparent: "We took out the old sound system and put in a new upgrade ... we're in the final stages of putting it in," he told us earlier this week.

That operation is being overseen by veteran area sound wizard Chuck Fudge, who was there for the Castle doing pretty much the same thing at its opening in 2010. 

Other modifications include a move for the bar set-up and some amendments to the front door entry point.

Post-WTVP concert, "there'll still be some more work to be done between now and the April shows," says Lowers. "We're still falling into a groove of how we want to operate and do things."

The first official "marquee" show comes a month later, at 7 p.m. April 7, with headliners All Time Low, the veteran Baltimore-area rock quartet.

That show will be followed by bluesman Walter Trout, 7:30 p.m. April 13; Brit rockers Bush, 7:30 p.m. April 17; The 90s Experience featuring Santeria, A Tribute to Sublime, Don't Speak: The No Doubt Tribute and St. Jimmy: A Green Day Tribute, 8 p.m. April 20; Dave Matthews Band tribute group Trippin Billies, 8 p.m. April 21; Texas rockers Nothing More, 7:30 p.m. April 23 and Aussie metal core band Parkway Drive, 7:30 p.m. May 11.

The Monarch Music Hall and Castle Theatre are also partnered with Peoria's Inked Entertainment in their big first outdoor, downtown Peoria riverfront event of the fair-weather season: Spring Fling ’18, at 6 p.m. May 18, and featuring Stone Sour, Stone Temple Pilots, I Prevail, Pop Evil, Sevendust, 10 Years, Dead Girls Academy and Burden of the Sky.

Not only are the sisterly Castle and Monarch sharing ownership, they're sharing box offices.

At the moment, the Monarch box office is open at the venue only, with all phone and online orders being taken through Castle channels, says Lowers.

For Bloomington-Normal-area patrons, all Monarch shows (riverfront special events included) will remain available via Castle box office options.

When the Monarch box office is up and running online and via phone, the same will hold true for Peoria-area Castle-goers: all Castle shows will be sold through Monarch channels.

No Oscar, but there's this: In our list of honors  accrued by ISU's Laurie Metcalf and IWU's Richard Jenkins in last week's pre-Oscar GO! section, we sold Jenkins one short on the local front.

In addition to being awarded an IWU Honor Doctor of Humane Letters Degree in 1991, he was also named  an IWU Distinguished Alumnus 11 years later, in 2002.

Dan Craft is Pantagraph entertainment editor. He can be reached at 309-829-9000, Ext. 259 or via email at



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