North Central College Fine & Performing Arts

Actor, teacher, Director Brian Lynch boosts fine & performing arts in Chicago suburbs

Published on 9/21/2016

His personal résumé is impressive: Broadway national tour star, Jeff Award-winning choreographer, college musical theatre instructor.

Brian Lynch brought his many talents and expertise to North Central College to serve as fine arts director. In nine year’s time, he has built an expansive fine and performing arts program and attracted world-class artists of every genre to North Central College’s five performance venues and art galleries.

When the College’s state-of-the-art Fine Arts Center opened in 2008, Lynch booked artists year-round to perform in the center’s acoustically perfect Wentz Concert Hall and black box Madden Theatre. Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra were the first to perform in “the Wentz,” followed by other renowned artists like cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Bernadette Peters, Ramsey Lewis Trio, Amy Grant, Vienna Boys Choir, Colbie Cailat and many more.

While performing in Wentz Concert Hall, Ma said, “What a beautiful, beautiful room. It sounds amazing. I love this hall.” During his 2009 concert, Herb Alpert remarked, “Listen to that. You can hear the last sounds of the drum fading away. Now THAT is a tribute to the acoustics in here. Can we take this place with us?”

Acoustics for the 13,000-square-foot concert hall were created by the Talaske Group, acoustical consultants for Chicago’s critically acclaimed Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park.

North Central kicks off its 2016-2017 fine arts season in Wentz Concert Hall with top talent like Richard Marx, Black Violin, The Manhattan Transfer & Take 6, The Subdudes, En Vogue and Kevin Eubanks. Chicago Sinfonietta and DuPage Symphony Orchestra again present their season performances in the Wentz, their suburban home.

The College’s Madden Theatre is a perfect setting for the new season’s jazz and cabaret artists, while Pfeiffer Hall and the thrust stage in Meiley-Swallow Hall showcase dance, theatre and musical productions.

Lynch has enjoyed many proud moments as fine arts director. “Having Yo-Yo Ma, the greatest cellist on our stage, feel so comfortable and relaxed in our space to laugh and enjoy himself was memorable,” says Lynch. “He poured out his soul on our stage to nearly a thousand people.”

An especially cherished moment came during a tap performance by the late Gregory Hines in Pfeiffer Hall. “He asked people from the audience to join him on stage and tap,” says Lynch. “Many of our dance students tapped with him, and this legend of dance thanked me from the stage for keeping the art form going. As an artist I will always remember that.”

Lynch joined North Central’s theatre faculty in 1995, after starring as Jean Valjean in the national tour of “Les Misérables.” He taught dance and acting and wrote the College’s original curriculum for a new musical theatre major and dance minor, creating a comprehensive program with opportunities for students in theatre, musical theatre, directing, dance, theatrical design and technology.

The national community of actors took notice when two student musicals, directed and choreographed by Lynch, appeared at the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. He brought back summer theatre, too, expanding community involvement in the College and in theatre.

Lynch credits the growth of North Central’s fine arts program to many things, including the College’s Naperville location. Nationally ranked as a best place to live, work, raise a family and retire, Naperville is quickly becoming a “best place” for dinner and a show, too. With free parking and more than 40 fine restaurants within walking distance of the College’s venues, North Central’s fine arts influence is a “win-win for everyone,” he says.

Sponsoring restaurants for the new fine arts season include Catch 35, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, The Bangkok Village, Dark Horse Pastries, Delirio, Eddie Merlot’s Prime Aged Beef and Seafood, Heaven on Seven, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, Meson Sabika, Paisans Pizzeria & Bar, Smallcakes Cupcakery and Ted’s Montana Grill.  

To see a complete lineup of North Central College’s new fine and performing arts season visit northcentralcollege.edu/show or call the box office at 630-637-SHOW (7469).