Out and About

A preview of the upcoming weekend's arts activities in Central Illinois with your hosts, Peoria Public Radio's Nathan Irwin and Jennifer Gordon of Arts Partners of Central Illinois.

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This week, we're talking with Bryan Blanks. He's directing Corn Stock Theatre's production of "The Wiz." It's the first time this show has been staged at the Corn Stock Tent. Blanks talks about his own history with the show, what he looked for in casting his production, and about the work he did ahead of time to ensure a strong turnout at auditions.

This week, we're talking with Jimmy Ulrich about Peoria Players' upcoming youth production of "All Shook Up." The "jukebox" musical features music made famous by Elvis Presley, and a story about a small Midwestern town, thrown into disarray by the arrival of a motorcycle-riding drifter. Ulrich says the music -- along with the fact  that it's a newer musical --  makes the show a treat for both the performers and the audience. "All Shook Up" runs August 7th through the 11th at Peoria Players Theatre.

This week, we're talking with photographer Scott Cavanah. He and Matt Buedel are the creators of the exhibit "Every Other." Over the course of a year, the two took turns creating photographs based on a theme suggested by the other. The resulting photos are now collected in the exhibit. "Every Other" is on display through July 30th at the Peoria Public Library Main Branch. A reception with the artists is Saturday morning from 10:00 to noon.

OutThis week, we're talking with Erin Craig. She plays Reno Sweeney in Corn Stock Theatre's upcoming  production of "Anything Goes." The show features a treasure-trove of Cole Porter music and a heavy dose of tap-dancing. "Anything Goes" opens tonight, and runs through July 20th under the tent at Upper Bradley Park.

This week, we're talking with Kristan McKinsey from the Peoria Riverfront Museum. Their exhibit, "Ansel Adams: Western Exposure" includes more than 120 of Adams' photographs, including many which have rarely been publicly displayed. Other items in the exhibit include drawings, camera equipment and Adams' personal items. The exhibit has been curated by daughter-in-law, Jeanne Adams. It continues through September 22nd. Also on display at the museum is "Lincoln: Self-Made in America," which chronicles Lincoln's early life, political career, Presidency and assassination.

This week we're talking with Chip Joyce. He's directing Eastlight Theatre's production of "Jekyll and Hyde," a musical adaptation of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale. The production continues with performances Friday and Saturday night.

This weekend, Corn Stock Theatre opens its production of "The Foreigner," starring Peoria native, and professional actor, Steve Vinovich. Vinovich has performed on stage, film and television since graduating from the University of Illinois; he's recently returned to New York after many years in Los Angeles. He talks about how the idea for the production came about; why he's fond of this play and this particular role; and about his 40-year career as a working actor.

This week, we're talking with Jennifer Lee, coordinator of the Art on the Promenade Fine Art Fair. It runs from 10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday on the promenade between Costco and Target in East Peoria. She talks about some of the challenges of organizing the first-time event, some of the activities that will be going on during the fair, and why she thinks its important both to the art community and to East Peoria.

This week, we're talking with Caleb Finley. He's directing Peoria Players Theatre's production of "Bus Stop." The  play revolves around a group of bus travelers, stranded in a remote bus stop by a heavy storm. Finley talks about drew him to the script, about trying avoid over-reliance on the film adaptation of the play, and about the two characters at the center of the script's main plot. "Bus Stop" continues Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Peoria Players.

The Heartland Festival Orchestra and conductor David Commanday close their 2013-2014 season with a program of "Maestro's Favorites" -- works by Stravinsky, Wagner and Brahms. David Commanday talks about some of those pieces, and the significance they hold for him. The concert also includes an unannounced sneak preview of a special appearance at the Peoria RiverFront Museum. The orchestra performs Saturday night at 7:30 at Five Points Washington.

Corn Stock Theatre is celebrating it's 60th season this summer. Theatre Manager Cindy Hoey joins us to talk about some of the productions planned for the season, including a visit by guest artist, and Peoria native, Steve Vinovich. Corn Stock will also present "The Wiz" for the first time, with a new director. The season kicks off with "The Music Man," which runs May 31st to June 8th.

The Morton Civic Chorus is getting ready to present its annual spring benefit concert, with performances Tuesday through Sunday at the Hartmann Center at Bradley University. Director Denise Adams talks about the theme that runs through this year's concert, and some of the works on the programs. She also talks about the process leading up to performance week, and about watching her children grow up in the chorus.

The Peoria Symphony Orchestra brings its 2012-2013 to a close with this weekend's concert, "Visions of Beauty." Music Director George Stelluto talks about the concert, which  features a return visit by soprano Kara Shay Thomson. He talks about what he looks for when selecting soloists for each concert, and about the selections on the program: a Mozart overture, opera arias, and Mahler's Fourth Symphony. The concert is Saturday night at 8:00 at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria.

We're talking with Bobbi Rice, from the Wheels O' Time Museum. Their 2013 season is now underway. This year, the museum has expanded to a fourth building. They've also develop a partnership with a local auto club to present a rotating display of antique cars. Bobbi also talks about some of the non-vehicular items in the museum's collection. The museum's 2013 season continues through the end of October.

This week, we're talking with Laura Garfinkel, the director of Peoria Players Theatre's upcoming production of "Fiddler on the Roof." She talks about the universal themes which permeate the show: the tension between tradition and modernity, the bonds of a small community, and the expectations family members have of one another. Those themes, and memorable score, help explain how the show has endured for almost fifty years. "Fiddler on the Roof" runs May 3rd through May 12th at Peoria Players Theatre.

This week, we're talking with Herrald Webster from Eastlight Theatre's production of "Dreamgirls." The musical tells the story of the Motown-era group "The Dreams." It closely parallels the real history of the Supremes, and features a score that ranges from R&B to early rock to disco. The Eastlight production opens tonight and continues through April 27th at the Byron Moore Auditorium in East Peoria High School.

Congressman Aaron Schock joins us this week to talk about the 32nd Annual Congressional Art Show and Competition. The show includes works of art submitted by young artists from across the 18th Congressional District; one of the pieces will be displayed in the U. S. Capitol for the next. The show opens with a reception tomorrow at 10:00 AM. Schock will deliver remarks and announce this year’s winner at 11:00 AM.


This week, we're talking with the Heartland Festival Orchestra's David Commanday. The HFO welcomes legendary trumpeter Doc Severinsen and the Stiletto Brass Quintet as guest artists in their next concert. The program features highlights from the jazz age -- music of Gershwin, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and others. The concert is Saturday night at Five Points in Washington.

This week, we're talking with Doug Day, director of "What Will Be Your Legacy?" a short play which explores issues about family farming, organic food, and land use. The play is intended to set up a discussion with the audience about policy options and personal choices. Performances in Peoria are Friday and Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. The play will also travel to Urbana and Springfield in the next few weeks.

Lindsey Cheney joins us this week to talk about Peoria Players Theatre's production of "Godspell." The show recreates selected parables from the Gospels and features music by Stephen Schwartz. Cheney talks about how the director and cast have updated and personalized the script, about some of the musical numbers in the show, and about how the rehearsal process has created a strong bond among the company. Performances of "Godspell" continue through Sunday.

This week, we're talking with David Commanday, from the Heartland Festival Orchestra. Their concert Saturday night features the string trio "Time for Three," and their infectious, high-energy performance style. David talks about some of the works the trio will be playing; and about how they blend classical, bluegrass and jazz influences. We also listen to a few selections from Time for Three's repertoire.

This week, we're talking with Ryan Campen, the director of "Frost/Nixon," which  opens this weekend at the Corn Stock Winter Playhouse. The play tells the story of the 1977 interviews between former President Richard Nixon and British television personality David Frost. Campen talks about his working with his cast to create portrayals of such iconic historical figures, and about his decision to incorporate live, audio-visual elements into the production.

This week, we're talking with George Stelluto, Music Director of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. Their concert Saturday night features music of Mozart, Rossini, Maurice Ravel and Jacques Ibert. Stelluto talks about the pieces on the program and how they fit together. The concert will also feature a performance by winners of the Peoria Symphony Guild's young artist competition.

This week, we talk with William Butler from the Contemporary Art Center. They're hosting their annual Fine Art Auction Saturday night from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. The event includes both a silent and a live auction, along with musical entertainment. Butler talks about some of the works featured in the auction, how it's designed to benefit both the Center and the participating artists, and some of the other ongoing activities at the CAC.

This week, we're talking with Chip Joyce. He' s playing the title role in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," which continues tonight and tomorrow night at Corn Stock Theatre. Joyce talks about the origin of the show, the process of "becoming Hedwig" each night, and what it's like fronting the Angry Inch -- the on-stage band that peforms during the show.