Blake Anderson

Date of Birth

Dec 15,1946

Date of Death

Jul 02,2008

Blake Millard Shumway Anderson, 61, died July 2, 2008 at his home in rural Elburn of complications from alcoholism. He was born Dec. 15, 1946 in Aurora at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital to Blake Jarvis "Jiggs" and Mary (nee Shumway) Anderson. Blake lived in Batavia for two years until the Anderson family moved seven miles west of Batavia to a wooded farm in rural Elburn on Main Street Road. Blake spent his youth pursuing many creative arts activities. In first grade he made and produced his first paper machete puppet show in Mrs. Olive Howard’s class. He enjoyed producing short animation films with a home movie camera and he produced audio tapes to accompany the films. He loved writing and producing musical comedy shows in the family home garage, and he "drafted" his brothers and sisters to perform in them. Blake attended Elburn grade school and he was a 1965 graduate of Kaneland High School. He enjoyed science and English classes, but he loved the performing arts. He, along with fellow students Bill Rooney, Jerry Lindvall, Linda Stoffa and Marleah Anderson produced a unique musical comedy titled "A Star Is Hatched" that earned rave reviews. He earned a first-place medal in the IHSA District Speech contest for his dramatic reading "Death of a Salesman." He also performed in various shows that were produced by "Playmakers," a Geneva-based community theatre group, and he was a regular performer at Pheasant Run in the Saturday children’s theater productions. After high school, Blake attended Northern Illinois University where he pursued a Bachelor’s degree in theatre and fine arts. During two summer vacations, he worked as a theatre apprentice for Guy Little at the Little Theatre On The Square in Sullivan, IL. He earned his Equity union card after two seasons. Near the conclusion of his junior year at NIU, he auditioned for a role in a radical new musical "Hair" that defined the youth culture of the 1960s. He played many roles in "Hair" during its run at the Schubert Theatre before the show went on tour. He managed, directed and choreographed the show as the troupe traveled across the country. After "Hair," Blake performed in the new hit musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York. He appeared on national television during the Tony awards ceremony and he performed in several show numbers. He later moved to Los Angeles where he performed in "Superstar" for two years. After "Superstar," Blake returned home to Elburn for a respite from the hectic theatre life and travel. Because he enjoyed plants and gardening, he went to work for G & E Greenhouse in Batavia.However, about two months later, he was called back to show business by producer Tom O’Horgan to work in Australia in a new show, "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band," that was conceived by Beatle legend John Lennon. After six months in Australia, Blake returned to Elburn where he worked for a time as a maintenance assistant for George Stoffa, Superintendent of Public Works.Blake was not interested in the grind of auditioning for roles in Broadway shows, but he longed for theater work. He decided that his varied theatrical training and experiences would take him in a different theatrical direction: costumes.Blake began designing and producing costumes for area high schools and local community theatre groups at his Elburn home. He always felt that quality shows did not have to be limited to major cities. He wanted to expose as many people as possible to the theatrical world and its special art forms in a professional-type quality. As his costume business grew, he needed storage room for the clothes. Five years later, he rented the building at 2 East Wilson St. in Batavia and started "Stage Rags." During the following 10 years, he moved his business to larger and larger buildings to store his products. During his career, he and his main business partner, Kristine Hamblen, built unique pieces out of many different materials for stage shows, parades, commercial venues and Halloween rentals. He produced costumes for country-western singer Kenny Rogers’ Christmas Show. He also made mascots for college athletic teams and semi-pro sports teams. He built costumes for many different groups such as medical, dental and marketing companies. He also made the clothes for entire wedding parties. He still enjoyed performing, but because his time for rehearsals was limited, he only played unusual characters that allowed him to showcase his acting talents. For example, he was hailed for his outstanding performance as the character Fagan in the musical "Oliver" that was produced at the Norris Center in St. Charles in 1981. He also played the murder victim, Philipe LeBlanc, in the film "The Glass Chain" that was produced by Robert Hicks and filmed in the Fox Valley. After 10 years or so, the costume business became unmanageable for Blake. He sold "Stage Rags" to Ms. Julane Sullivan who renamed the business "All Dressed Up." He worked for the new owner part time and he continued to build specialty pieces for the business. He also built sets for the First Street Playhouse that Sullivan later started in conjunction with the costume shop. He also worked part time for the Jewel-Osco in Batavia until several years ago.He is survived by two brothers, Jay (Libby) of Naperville, Robin (Linda) of Elburn; three sisters, Nona(the late William,)Otis of Chicago, Marleah(Richard) Anderson-Bond of Aurora, Barbara Anderson (the late Jim Collins,)of Elburn; Aunt Ruth (the late Thomas) Ness of Oswego;nephews, Michael Otis of Aurora, Neil Anderson of Nashville, TN, Jay F. Anderson of Elburn; two nieces, Stephanie Anderson of Elburn, Monica (Don) Fogler of Bloomington, IL; special friends, David Reh of Little Rock, AR, Rod Fernandez of New York, NY; three cats, Garbo, Frankie and Little Linda. He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, James, in infancy; special friends, Tim Larweth, Philip Debs, Celige Dickson and Kristine Hamblen.There will be no visitation. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Burial will be private.

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