Rocker Cathy Richardson joins the Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts

By Scott Jonlich

Recently, Cathy Richardson, the lead singer for Jefferson Starship, who also happens to live in Elmhurst, has joined the Board of Directors for the Elmhurst Centre For Performing Arts, (ECPA). This big news is just in time as the Board embarks on a shift in its fund-raising effort with an April 15 Gala. As ECPA Board Member Laura Michaud puts it, “Cathy sees ECPA’s potential and needs through the lens of a top-level artist, and we are delighted to have her.” In a recent Elmhurst Magazine exclusive interview, Cathy elaborated, “I have been extremely fortunate to perform all over the world and I have come to understand what a venue should offer to performers, and what a venue should offer to audiences. I also think I can help in fundraising, certainly by performing; and by offering auctions of autographed guitars and other memorabilia, among other ideas.” “And, last, but not least, I know people in the world of music whom I can help bring to Elmhurst.

I have a commitment from Jefferson Starship to perform on opening night.” “All in all, I love the idea of what ECPA can mean to the community, and to the considerable talent in this town.” In speaking further with Laura Michaud, a founder of Chicago performing arts venue, Stage 773, she gave us this perspective: “For decades, many attempted initiatives took place in support of the arts in Elmhurst to establish a venue for performing arts. Certainly, the talent is here: Elmhurst Symphony, the Elmhurst Children’s Theater, Elmhurst University Jazz Band, DuPage Dance Studio, and award-winning York High School musical shows, among others, provide a steady stream of talented local people to perform. The problem has been a lack of a venue. Groups have been predominantly performing in churches, schools, even bars.” ”So, in 2016, in discussions with several interested artists, business people, and an architect, we formed a Board and began our initiative for the “Elmhurst Centre For Performing Arts”. “After much work and many studies ensuring viability, land for ECPA was secured in 2019 on 1st Avenue.

Laura Michaud, ECPA Board Member

It is in the heart of Elmhurst’s City Centre and just steps away from the Elmhurst train station, making it easy for people in the surrounding areas to attend.” “Aside from myself, the Board includes architect Jeff Budgell, as Chairman, Doug Peterson, President of Chicago Records Management, CPA Cheryl Peterson, Rebecca Marianetti, Head of Theater and Choral Activities, York High School, Mark Hale, of Wintrust Bank, former Mayor Tom Marcucci, as an honorary board member, Cathy Richardson and more.” “After the lull of the pandemic between 2019 and 2022, the momentum is back and the timing is right. Not only do we have Cathy, but we have other board members who also have a passion for the arts and a desire to help fundraise.

We have added Nicole Alvarez, a lawyer who has a huge interest in dance, Monica Shah, a professional project manager for a major consulting company, and Francis Pepitone, a marketing specialist who recently moved from Chicago, and loves live theatre.” The City of Elmhurst, along with ECPA, have shared expenses for multiple studies on the econom impact on the city, and the financial feasibility of the centre. The latest Economic impact study has estimated that for every person attending an ECPA event, the nearby business community gains $60 in revenue. She adds, “ECPA meets with city officials and Mayor Scott Levin on a regular basis.” “We have even created a video to illustrate what could be possible.” (Go to to see the video.) She says, “Timing is better now, too. There’s always been interest in the arts in the western suburbs and it is even better now with the demographic shift we have seen over the last 10 years. Newer residents, from Chicago, enjoy and live in downtown Elmhurst. Many of these couples, empty nesters, and singles are also interested in the arts.

ECPA will add to the downtown ‘vibe’”. “Johnson Consulting, an international hospitality consulting firm, confirmed that ECPA should incorporate a rehearsal space to match the size of the actual stage, a great help for dance groups. In addition, the venue will be able to accommodate conventions, and meetings as well as performances.” Michaud adds, “As a result of all these factors coming together, we are preparing to unveil a capital fundraising campaign in 2023. This is a big turning point for us and we kick it off with our Spotlight Gala on April 15th and a new location. It will be taking place at River Forest Country Club. Tickets are $200 per person for drinks, dinner and dancing. The Gala will feature The Elmhurst University Jazz Band and The Men of Spirito.”

For tickets and more information, go to

*Photos by Victor Hilitski