Arts

This week, Nathan Irwin talks with Susan Hazzard. She’s directing “Steel Magnolias” at Peoria Players Theatre. The play centers on six women, the changes in their lives over a three-year span, and the bonds among them. Hazzard says she was drawn to the script for its portrayal of strong female characters, and the ways in which those characters develop and change over the course of the show. The Players production features a cast that includes some community theatre veterans, and a few newer performers.

This week, we're talking with Shannon Cox and Kim Sanders from the Peoria Art Guild's Fine Art Fair. This year, the Fair is starting early, beginning Fridat night at 6pm. As in past years, 130 artists will have works on display and for sale, and full schedules of entertainment and activites for children are planned. Cox and Sanders also talk about some of the demonstrations and hands-on activities that are available.

This week, Nathan Irwin talks with George Stelluto, conductor of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra; and with violinist Catherine Cho. The PSO opens its new season with a concert that includes the "Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra" by Max Bruch, a piece that incorporates Scottish folk songs. The program also includes the Seventh Symphony by Antonin Dvorak. Stelluto says that the composers represent a trend in the late Romantic era, to draw on the influences of traditional folk music.

Our guest this week is Chip Joyce, talking about Peoria Players Theatre's upcoming production of "the Wizard of Oz," part of the theatre's 100th anniversary season. We've often talked with Joyce in his capacity as a director, but he says he's back on stage this time around because "Wizard of Oz" is one of his favorite musicals, and Scarecrow is a role he's always wanted to play.

This week, we're talking about Erin Feis, the annual Peoria Irish festival, with Kate Kenny.

The festival offers an impressive lineup of music, with bands performing on three different stages throughout the weekend. Also on offer: The Highland Games, featuring traditional athletic contests like the Caber Toss and the Braemar Stone.

Kenny tells us about the planning that goes into scheduling the entertainment for the festival -- it usually starts a year ahead of time. She also reflects on how Erin Feis has grown over the years.

This week, we're talking with Marcia Johnson about the Wheels O' Time, located just off North Knoxville Avenue in Dunlap. Since our last conversation, the museum has opened a new exhibit -- the LeTourneau steel house. It's one of the few remaining examples of this pre-war attempt to manufacture standardized affordable housing. The effort to move the steel house to its new location involved a collaborative effort from several local organizations.

We're joined this week by Kelleen Nitsche and Joe Spanier, to talk about Ignite! Peoria. The annual event spotlights the range of artistic and creative opportunities in central Illinois. Along with booths for artists and performing groups, the event includes two stages with performances throughout the day; and creation stations, where attendees can engage in hands-on activities.

This week, we're talking with artists Barb Hoffman and Jessica Bingham. They're both participating in the Prairie Center of the Arts' Regional Alumni Invitational Exhibition, which features work by alumni of the Center's residency program. The artists themselves chose the works to be included. All the pieces are new, created in the last two years.

Hoffman and Bingham talk about the residency program, and how it's advanced their own work. They also describe their own pieces in the exhibition.

This week, we're talking with Alex Hunt and Ed Peck, from the cast of "Newsies" at Corn Stock Theatre. The musical is based on the real story of the 1899 Newsboys Strike in New York City. Hunt plays "Crutchie," one of the newsies, and Peck plays publisher Joseph Pulitzer. With a cast of more than 100, the show features dynamic, athletic choreography; the music of Alan Mencken; and a book by Harvey Fierstein. Pam Orear directs.

The regional premiere of "Newsies" runs from August 3rd to August 11th at the Corn Stock Tent, in Peoria's Upper Bradley Park.

We're talking with Bill Conger, with the Peoria Riverfront Museum, about their new exhibit, "Mythic Creature: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids."

The exhibit looks at how these creatures have been depicted in popular culture, and includes examples of the real-world animals who inspired the legends. Conger says it's designed to appeal to both children and adults, and is an excellent fit for the summer, when families have more free time. The museum is also hosting other events in conjunction with this exhibit -- including an art contest, and a Kids' Night event on July 14th.

Blair Clark and Sarah Nesbit are with us this week to talk about the exhibit, "Unseen Voices." Currently on display at the Foster Gallery for Christianity and the Fine Arts, the exhibit is an attempt to help new and emerging artists in Central Illinois gain exposure, and prepare them to submit to other exhibits and galleries in the future. It's a collaboration with the Emerging Artists Collective, and it follows in the footsteps of a similar exhibit in 2016.

This week, we're talking about the premiere of "Ruth: The Musical" with composer David Getz, and Courtney Huffman, who sings the role of Ruth. As Getz explains, the work has been seven years in the making; a crucial turning point came last year when he performed in a musical for the first time. The musical tells the Biblical story. Getz and Huffman say it's a story of emotional contrasts that lends itself well to a musical treatment.

"Ruth: The Musical" will debut Saturday night at 7:00 at Grace Church in Morton.

Our guest this week is Bruce White, talking with us about the "Show Tunes Sing-Along" this weekend at Peoria Players Theatre. He says the theatre was looking for a unique experience to offer in the run-up to it's 100th season; the result was this event, which encourages audience members to join in singing favorite show tunes from favorite musicals. A cast of familiar veterans will lead the performance, and lyrics will be projected on a screen, so the audience can follow along. Songs are arranged thematically, and shows coming up in the theatre's upcoming season are highlighted.

John Jost is with us to talk about the Peoria Bach Festival. As in previous years, the festival presents an array of activities--lectures, recitals and concerts--over the next week. Jost talks about several of those events, about Bach's particular versatility as a composer, and about his enduring place in the world of music.

The Peoria Bach Festival opens with an organ concert, tonight at 7:30 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. More concerts and events continue through June 10th at Trinity Lutheran Church.

This week, we're talking with Leigh Ann Brown and Rachel Berchtold about the Fourth Friday Tazewell Art Loop. Like First Fridays, these monthly events are intended to showcase local artists and musicians; however, the Tazewell County effort also includes a partnership with local small businesses. Berchtold and Brown talk about the value of building partnerships between the business and arts sectors, and about some of the special events on tap for tonight. There's also a scavenger hunt that runs all summer.

Our guests this week are Michelle Nielsen Ott from Sculpture Walk Peoria, and Sharon Gramm with the Peoria Riverfront Market. The two groups are working together this year: Peoria Riverfront Market begins tomorrow morning; and Sculpture Walk's opening day celebration begins later in the day, just across the street. The idea is to give residents and visitors a double incentive to visit downtown Peoria.

Our guest this week is Bill Barr, the stage manager for "Mamma Mia" which continues this weekend at Peoria Players Theatre. He talks to us about his role with the production, and about the work that the technical team puts into the show even before it's been cast. He also talks about the public response to the production; it's sold out, despite the addition of extra performances. And he previews two special performances at Peoria Players this summer: "Broadway Backwards" later in May, and a "Show Tunes Sing-Along" in June.

This week, we're talking with George Stelluto, conductor of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, and soloist Naomi Louisa O'Connell about the PSO's upcoming concert. "Great Cities: Rome" features Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony, Respighi's "Pines of Rome," and "The Song of Memories" by Giuseppe Martucci.

They talk about the works on the program, and about O'Connell's earlier trip to Peoria last month, which included a number of appearances at local schools.

The Peoria Symphony Orchestra presents "Great Cities: Rome" Saturday night at 7:30 in the Peoria Civic Center Theater.

Heartland Festival Orchestra

David Commanday, Artistic Director of the Heartland Festival Orchestra, is with us again to talk about the HFO's next concert. "Jazz in Spring" features Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream Overture" and Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring." The second half of the program includes two different interpretations of the music to "Peer Gynt:" Edvard Grieg's original compositions, and Duke Ellington's jazz interpretations of those same melodies.

Bradley University

Our guest this week is John Jost, with the Bradley University Music Department. He joined us to talk about this weekend's concert with the Bradley Community Chorus. It's a double milestone for the choir -- the ensemble is celebrating it's 60th anniversary, and this will be Jost's final concert as conductor.

The program consists of a selection of popular opera choruses, including the "Toreador Song" by Georges Bizet and Borodin's "Polovtsian Dance." Narration by Lee Wenger will introduce each of the composers and pieces.

Corn Stock Theatre

Bob Parkhurst is with us to talk about Corn Stock Theatre's "Vaudeville and Whiskey Revue." The show is an homage to Peoria's vaudeville history. It includes 38 different acts in the classic Vaudeville tradition -- solos and ensemble pieces, skits, tap numbers, and even a magic act. The show is also a nod to Peoria's whiskey tradition; each performance includes optional whiskey tastings.

Parkhusrt talks about the inspirations behind the production, the work that went into rehearsing 38 different acts, and the backstage logistics that keep the show moving.

We're talking with Chas Killen, director of Peoria Players' production of "Bonnie and Clyde: The Musical." It's the first community theatre production of the show in this area, and as such, it's drawn performers from across the region. Killen talks about the show's score, which includes elements of rockabilly, gospel and bluegrass music; about the decision to cast the show early; and about the response the production received for its opening weekend.

"Bonnie and Clyde" continues tonight through Sunday at Peoria Players Theatre.

Our guest this week is Jerry Kolb, from public television station WTVP. They're hosting a concert, "State and Water 'Spring String' to Benefit WTVP" tomorrow night. We talk about their program "State and Water," which spotlights local musicians and bands and is now gearing up for its third season. The concert features performances by four bands who have appeared on the program. It's also the first event being held in the Monarch Music Hall (the former Limelight Eventplex).

Our guests this week are Rebekah von Rathonyi and Jessica Smith, with Central Illinois Ballet. They're presenting four performances of "The Firebird" this weekend at their new home at 830 West Main Street in Peoria. The facility includes a small "black box" theater, and this is the company's first performance in that space. Act II of the program includes two new pieces by guest choreographers.

There are four performances of "The Firebird" Friday night through Sunday afternoon at 830 West Main Street in Peoria.

This week, our guests are Sarah Salazar-Martin and Trevor Bety. They're the director and assistant director, respectively, of "Dead Man's Cell Phone" at Bradley University Theatre. The play tells the story of a woman who answers a stranger's phone, and finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into that man's life. Along the way, it explores issues of connection, isolation and intimacy. Salazar-Martin and Bety say that those themes have particular resonance for a generation that has grown up with smart phones and their promise of instant, ubiquitous communication.

This week, we're talking about Corn Stock Theatre's production of "The Curious Savage," with director Kerri Rae Hinman Ryan and actress Helen Engelbrecht. They both talk about the message of the play, and about the cast's work to embody that message in their performances. It's Hinman Ryan's directorial debut, and it's a show that has a particular significance for her. Corn Stock is also featuring local charitable organizations during the run of the play.

"The Curious Savage" continues tonight, tomorrow night and Sunday at the Corn Stock Winter Playhouse in Peoria.

Barry Cloyd

Our guest this week is singer/songwriter Barry Cloyd. He's presenting a concert tomorrow night at 7:00 at the Forest Park Nature Center. It's part of their "Songs from the Woods" concert series.

This has become an annual event for Cloyd - he refers to it as his "home concert," and uses it an as opportunity to reunite with other musicians he's worked with for years. He says this concert will include plenty of new songs. He also talks about why he values the Forest Park Nature Center, both as a performance venue and as a source of inspiration for his music.

This week, we're talking about Peoria Players Theatre's production of "Sunset Boulevard" with director Steve Bortolotti, and with Cheri Beever, who plays Norma Desmond. The musical is adapted from the 1950 film, and tells the story of a faded silent-movie star hoping for a dramatic comeback in Hollywood. The score is by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Beever and Bortolotti talk about the opportunity to finally bring this musical to a central Illinois audience, what the show has to say about the entertainment industry, and about the complex characters who inhabit the story.

Our guests this week are are Jennifer Costa and Steph Van Doren. Their work is featured in the exhibit, "Flora and Function," now on display at Illinois Central College.  They each talk about their own work, how their chosen media complement and contrast one another, and the process of curating the exhibit.

"Flora and Function" continues through February 9th in Gallery 336B at the ICC campus in East Peoria.

We're talking with Chris Peterlin. He's directing Corn Stock Theatre's production of "Leaving Iowa." It's a "memory play," in which writer Don Browning goes on a road trip to scatter the ashes of his late father, with multiple flashbacks to a fateful family vacation. The play was written by two alums of Bradley University; this production is the first time it's been presented in central Illinois. Peterlin talks about the emotional tone of the play, and about the challenges of staging the multiple scenes that take place in the family car.

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