Theatre

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.

This week, Nathan Irwin talks with director Jake Van Hoorn about Corn Stock Theatre's production of "Boeing Boeing." Set in Paris in the 1960s, the play tells the story of Bernard, who juggles his relationships with three different women -- all flight attendants. Van Hoorn talks about what drew him to the script, and about what has surprised and inspired him as a first-time director.

"Boeing Boeing" opens tonight, and continues through June 30th, at the Corn Stock Tent, in Upper Bradley Park in Peoria.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Penguin Project

This week, we're talking with Andrew Morgan about The Penguin Project and their production of "Mary Poppins, Jr." Now in its 14th year, The Penguin Project was created to give young performers with with special needs and disabilities the opportunity to participate in theatrical performance. Their model has now been replicated by dozens of other companies across the country. Their work was also recently recognized with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.

Peoria Players Theatre

This week, we hear from Mary Keltner. She's directing "Home for the Holidays," which opens next weekend at Peoria Players Theatre. The production is a holiday-themed musical revue, featuring familiar music of the season, dance and variety acts. It's built around a script that tells the story of one family over the course of several decades, and how they celebrated the holidays over the years. Some of their stories are drawn from the real-world experiences of Keltner's production team.

Our guest this week is Eric Ewan. He's directing "The Gifts of the Magi," which opens tonight at Corn Stock Theatre.

The show is a musical adaptation of two short stories by O. Henry, both of which revolve around the winter holidays. Ewan characterizes it as an ensemble production, with a cast of just six performers. Two of those function as a sort of chorus, and help bridge the two narratives.

He also talks about the musical itself. Though it's more than 30 years old, it's a bit less well-known and has been infrequently performed in the area.

Corn Stock Theatre

Our guest this week is Amy Glass. She's directing "The Glass Menagerie," which continues this weekend at Corn Stock Theatre's Winter Playhouse. Glass says she was drawn to the show for the family dynamics it depicts, and for the theme of escape which is present in each of the central characters -- and which continues to have resonance in 2017. The play is a "memory play" in which narrator Tom Wingfield appears in the main story, and reflects on it as narrator years later. Glass talks about using lighting and staging to define the two spaces.

Scott Kanoff and Susan Somerville Brown are with us this week, to talk about the Bradley University Theatre Department's production of "Little Women." It's a musical adaptation of the well-known novel, and Kanoff describes it as perhaps the department's most ambitious undertaking. After staging several rock-oriented musicals in the past few seasons, the department wanted its students to experience a more traditional musical this year. They were also looking for a show that offered multiple prominent roles for female performers.

Peoria Players Theatre

Our guests this week are Dave Montague and Vicky Snyder. They're playing Frollo and Esmeralda (respectively) in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" at Peoria Players Theatre. Snyder and Montague talk about their roles, and some the themes of the show. They also praise the score, and expect that audiences will be impressed by the show's costumes and set.

Peoria Players Theatre opens its 99th season with "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." It opens tonight, and performances continue through Sunday, September 17th.

Corn Stock Theatre

Bryan Blanks is the director of the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie," which closes the summer season at Corn Stock Theatre. He describes it as a high-energy show, that's appropriate and fun for all ages. Set in the Flapper era of the 1920s, it tells the story of a young woman who sets out for New York City to marry for money. Blanks talks about the music of the show, which hearkens back to the jazz age, and the intense, tap-driven choreography.

Nyk Sutter and Sandra Iadipaolo are the co-directors of "Bring It On: The Musical," the summer youth production at Peoria Players Theatre. The show features music by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of "Hamilton" fame) and demands a range of dance, cheerleading and tumbling from its cast. They talk about adapting their rehearsal process to those needs, the elements of the show that they found to be universal, and about the challenges (and rewards) of working with a cast of 14- to 20-year-olds.

"Bring It On: The Musical" continues Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Peoria Players.

Co-directors Erica Franken and Sarah Beth Leasor are with us, to talk about Peoria Players' production of "Billy Elliot." The musical is known for its heavy use of dance. They talk about how that shaped everything from their casting, to the rehearsal process, to numerous physical improvements made to the Peoria Players stage. They also talk about the specific historical context of the show, and about some of what they lerned as first-time directors.

"Billy Elliot" opens tonight, and runs through Sunday, May 14th, at Peoria Players Theatre.

This week, we're talking with Charles Killen. He's directing "August: Osage County" at Peoria Players Theatre. He describes the play as a multi-layered family drama, and the cast includes long-time Peoria actors, along with a few new faces. He also talks about the rehearsal process he and the cast engaged in to prepare the production, and he makes the case that author Tracy Letts' writing style is as rewarding for actors as it is for audiences.

"August Osage County" opens tonight, with performances continuing through March 19th at Peoria Players Theatre.

This week, we're talking with Scott Kanoff, from the Bradley University Department of Theatre Arts, about their production of "These Shining Lives." The play tells the story of women who worked at the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, IL, the toll that work took on their health, and the legal case they pursued against the company. Kanoff talks about the play, why they selected it, and some local connections to the story it recounts. The performance on Sunday, February 26th, the department will also present a moot court trial on the legal issues involved in the story.

Director Chip Joyce is with us to talk about Corn Stock Theatre's production of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson." The rock musical depicts the personal life and political career of the nation's seventh President. Joyce says the show's emo-rock score fits the charged, tumultuous era in which Jackson lived. He talks about how he first discovered the show, and why he thinks Corn Stock's Winter Playhouse is a good venue for it. He also contrasts it with the more recent musical, "Hamilton."

Peoria Players Theatre

This week, we're talking with Connie Sinn. She's directing "Into the Woods," the latest production at Peoria Players Theatre. The musical is based on familiar fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, and features recognizable characters like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Jack and his beanstalk. Sinn says the show weaves those characters together to tell a story that's more nuanced, darker and more mature. She also talks about what drew her to this musical.

"Into the Woods" runs tonight through Sunday, February 12th, at Peoria Players Theatre.

The Penguin Project

This week, we're talking with Andrew Morgan, founder of The Penguin Project, and director of their upcoming production of "Crazy For You."

He reviews the purpose of The Penguin Project - to provide an opportunity for children with special needs to participate in the performing arts. He also talks about this particular show, a musical that weaves together many of George Gershwin's best-known songs.

The Waterhouse

This week, we're talking with Andrew Driscoll. He joined us to talk about some of the activities at The Waterhouse, which moved a few years ago from its location on Water Street to the MAXAM building. As part of the change in venue, The Waterhouse is now able to offer more performances, especially in its Broadway Lounge. He talks about the current production in that space, "The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged)," and some his plans for 2017. He also talks about the new venue, and how the business has changed as a result of having a larger facility.

Corn Stock Theatre

We're talking this week with Steve Vinovich and Cindy Hoey, who appear in Corn STock Theatre's production of "Love Letters." It's a return visit for Vinovich - a Peoria native who's had a long career as an actor in New York and Los Angeles - who last appeared at Corn Stock three years ago. The production also marks Hoey's retirement as Corn Stock's manager.

The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee / Facebook

The Chicago Theater community gathers in Oakbrook tonight to celebrate the year’s best work on the stage. Illinois Public Radio's Brian O’Keefe visited with the one of the creative forces behind one of last year’s big winners and this year’s nominees.

 

 

 

 

 

Corn Stock Theatre

We talk with Eric Ewan and Cheri Beever, from Corn Stock Theatre's production of the musical, "The Spitfire Grill." They talk about what sets this show apart from other musicals -- it's smaller in scale, and the score borrows as much from bluegrass and folk music as it does from Broadway. They also talk about the advantages the Corn Stock Tent offers as a venue for a production like this one.

"The Spitfire Grill" opens tonight, and runs through August 13th at Corn Stock Theatre.

Eastlight Theatre

This week, we're joined by Travis Olson. He's directing "Disney's Beauty and the Beast," which opens tonight at Eastlight Theatre. He talks about his previous experience with the show -- as both performer and designer, about the creative team he's put together for this production, and about what makes the show an audience favorite. "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" runs thorugh July 2nd at Eastlight Theatre, at East Peoria High School.

Dick Van Dyke Returns to Danville

Jun 24, 2016
Jeff Bossert / Illinois Public Media

One of the biggest show business names to come out of Central Illinois is back home for a couple days with hopes of nurturing more talent, and making sure he always has a place to call home.  Friday, the city of Danville gets a chance to honor native son Dick Van Dyke.  Illinois Public Radio’s Jeff Bossert has more. 

 

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