Theater / performance art / opera / storytelling

Curtain Call: Skyline Creek Productions’ Cats

Venues & Businesses
Marion Cultural and Civic Center

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Who: Skyline Creek Productions
What: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats (live musical theater)
Where:
When: 2017-08-11 - 2017-08-13
The long-running Broadway musical Cats will come to our area Friday through Sunday, August 11 throug
Brian Wilson
Video Comentary

The long-running Broadway musical Cats will come to our area Friday through Sunday, August 11 through August 13, when it hits the stage of the Marion Cultural and Civic Center.

The group responsible for this production, Skyline Creek Productions, has put on several major musicals during the past several years, including American Idiot, Sweeney Todd, The Addams Family, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Producer Barb Segretario says this one, in particular, has presented a major challenge, “Because it is so well known,” she said. “Everybody knows Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cats. You’re going to come to that show expecting it. That’s one of the shows, you can’t misstep on that one. I’ve done a lot of other shows and you can switch it around a little bit. This is not that kind of show. Anybody who has seen the show knows the characters and they know those dances.”

But Segretario says the cast and crew of this production has risen to the challenge.

“Casting was very difficult,” she said. “Normally, when we’re going into a show, I tell them, ‘That’s great, you can dance, but can you sing?’ This was the total opposite. Not only, ‘Can you sing, but can you dance?’ Because the majority of the show is all dancing, and it’s heavy dancing, nothing easy. They’re not getting away with anything easy this time and they know it, but they love it.”

Segretario adds that the one of the reasons for the decision to do Cats had to do with her director, Derek Hamblin.

“It’s one of his bucket-list dreams,” said Segretario. “I never said anything to him. I love the show myself. I absolutely love Cats. But he was talking about it, that one of the things he really wanted to do was direct that show, that was the determining factor of how I came up with Cats for the summer show this year. I never shared that with him, but that was it.”

Tickets are $15. For tickets, call (618) 997-4030 or visit <http://MarionCCC.com>.

Find out more at <http://SkylineCreekProductions.weebly.com>.

 

who Skyline Creek Productions

what Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats (live musical theater)

where Marion Cultural and Civic Center

when Friday through Sunday, August 11 through August 13

Curtain Call: McLeod Summer Playhouse’s Singin’ in the Rain

Venues & Businesses
Carbondale Community Arts
SIU Department of Theater

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Who: McLeod Summer Playhouse and Carbondale Community Arts
What: All Southern High School Theater Project presents Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Arthur Freed, and Nacio Herb Brown’s Singin’ in the Rain (live musical theater)
Where:
When: 2017-07-27 - 2017-07-30
Every year, McLeod Summer Playhouse and Carbondale Community Arts join forces to produce the All Sou
Jennifer “Jay” Bull
Video Comentary

Every year, McLeod Summer Playhouse and Carbondale Community Arts join forces to produce the All Southern High School Theater Project. This year’s production is Singin’ in the Rain, based on the classic 1952 movie musical of the same name. It will combine twenty-six local high-school students with a professional staff, who will perform Thursday through Monday, July 27 through July 30 in McLeod Theater.

“It’s extremely fun and it’s my first lead role,” Keagan Schlosser, who portrays aspiring actress Kathy Selden, told Nightlife, “so I’m kind of nervous about it, but my cast has been really supportive of me.”

The play’s plot involves the film industry’s transition from silent movies to talkies. Unfortunately, one of the studio’s most famous actresses, Lina Lamont (played in the McLeod Summer Playhouse production by Anna Madura), has a horrible voice. The studio hires Kathy Selden to dub over Lina’s voice. As Kathy and star actor Don Lockwood (Brax Melvin) spend more time together, they fall in love. Hijinks ensue.

“There is a lot of madcap numbers that are really exciting, a lot of comedy, and some fabulous costumes,” Schlosser said.

In addition to memorable songs “Good Morning” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” the production also features dancing, something Schlosser has really enjoyed.

“I have to say, I’ve worked with the two boys who are the other leads before, and I’ve worked with the director before, so it’s just fun being with them for another show and taking a new take on everything we always do,” Schlosser said. “And tapping. I love to tap— ‘Good Morning,’ the musical number, has probably been my favorite thing that we’ve done so far.”

Garrett James portrays Cosmo Brown, best friend of Don Lockwood, and provides the play’s comic relief.

“He’s absolutely hilarious— a very comical role,” James told Nightlife about his character. “I’m kind of silly a lot. I like to goof around and have a good time, so it suits me well in that aspect. His humor is a little different from mine, because it’s an older-style show, so I’m learning how to adapt and how it would be delivered and how people would react to it in that time period.”

Garrett has nothing but positive things to say about his four years of experience with McLeod Summer Playhouse.

“The cast is always incredible,” James said. “We spend a lot time together, and when it gets closer to the show, pretty much seven days a week together. If you don’t know someone in the beginning, you’ll know them by the end— it’s a great way to make new friends.”

The musical is something everyone can enjoy, James said.

“It’s going to be an incredible show,” James said. “The cast is working hard, and I think it will turn out really good. The show is absolutely hilarious. The lead characters are your average romantic relationship you’d see in an older movie, and of course there’s the classic antagonist with a little bit of a twist, which is Lena. It’s a really enjoyable show that is for everyone, the whole family.”

Singin’ in the Rain takes place at 7:30 p.m., except for the matinee Sunday, July 30 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students, and $8 for children. For tickets, call (618) 453-6000 or visit ticket outlets at McLeod or the SIU Arena. To buy online, visit <http://playhouse.siu.edu>. There are no service charges for in-person purchases, though phone and online purchases will carry charges in the $2 range.

The theater box office will also open one hour before each performance, but audiences are encouraged to get their tickets early, because All Southern High School Theater Project performances often sell out.

who: McLeod Summer Playhouse and Carbondale Community Arts

what: All Southern High School Theater Project presents Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Arthur Freed, and Nacio Herb Brown’s Singin’ in the Rain (live musical theater)

where: Communications Building McLeod Theater

 

when: Thursday through Monday, July 27 through July 30

Curtain Call: Jackson County Stage Company’s The Edge of Peace

Venues & Businesses
Jackson County Stage Company

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Who: Jackson County Stage Company
What: Suzan Zeder’s The Edge of Peace (live theater)
Where:
When: 2017-07-27 - 2017-07-30
The Jackson County Stage Company will present award-winning playwright Suzan Zeder’s The Edge of Pea
Brian Wilson
Video Comentary

words by Brian Wilson

pictures by Thomas Henry Horan

The Jackson County Stage Company will present award-winning playwright Suzan Zeder’s The Edge of Peace Thursday, July 27 through Sunday, July 30 at the Varsity Center.

The third part of what is known as the Ware Trilogy, The Edge of Peace follows Mother Hicks and The Taste of Sunrise in telling the story of the inhabitants of the small Union County town of Ware and their struggles within both family and community against the last days of World War II.

The play’s director, Kevin Purcell, says Zeder captures the atmosphere of the time and place well, but had surprisingly only been to the area only once— in 1980, with her husband, when she researching witchcraft in the 1930s through the Federal Writers Project.

“She found a number of people telling stories about witchcraft in the Southern Illinois area, so they wanted to come through and stop and see what they could learn,” Purcell said. “Of course, the internet didn’t exist in 1980. So they drove through and by chance she stopped in Ware, and she spoke to [a couple] and sat on the porch of their general-mercantile store there, and they told her stories and told her about things they knew and people they knew.”

From those stories, and also the playwright’s own imagination, Zeder wrote the Ware Trilogy, of which Purcell has directed performances of the first two for the Stage Company, Mother Hicks in 2014 and The Taste of Sunrise in 2016.

Purcell cannot overestimate the significance of the plays.

Mother Hicks, over the last thirty-seven years, has become one of the most performed children’s theater plays in the world,” he said. “It’s been done all over the world. Many different countries, multiple languages, and it was an extremely popular play. It had never been done in Southern Illinois until we did it in 2014.”

Purcell said one of the things that drew him to the trilogy was the way it addressed the community inhabited by its characters.

“I love doing plays about a sense of place, about where I happen to be at the time,” he said. “I helped found Seattle Public Theater when I was there, and our theater company did a lot of plays about Seattle, about homelessness there as well as the timber industry. We did a lot of local-interest theater, because I believe one thing theater can do is to impact people and change the way they see, not just themselves but the issues of the place they live.”

He adds that there are also elements of the play that resonate with him on a deeply personal level.

“My dad fought in the Second World War,” Purcell said. “He’s not here now, but he told me and my sisters lots of stories about his experience at that time. I know people here, just having lived here four years, who were alive during World War II in this area, and they’ve told me that they’re very interested in coming, and the stories they’ve told their families. One thing I learned that’s relevant to the play is about Camp Pomona, which was the German prisoner-of-war camp here in Southern Illinois that existed for six months in 1945, and that camp is actually referenced in this play.”

Central to The Edge of Peace, as well as the entire Ware Trilogy, are issues regarding deaf and hearing cultures. Purcell says this helps to make the plays so unique.

“Each of the three plays explores the tapestry of one of the main characters,” Purcell said. “Mother Hicks, by and large, was about Nell Hicks. The Taste of Sunrise really is Tuc’s story from the time he was born, and that play in particular, the tension between deaf and hearing culture is central. When we did that production, we spent twice as much time on it as we do a normal production because the whole cast, all nine members, signed and spoke the entire play. It’s a very rare piece in that way.”

Purcell said the opportunity to reach the deaf community is important.

“Probably thirty percent of this play is done in sign language, and the other seventy percent where [American Sign Language] is not done on stage, we have two interpreters for the audience. So for both Mother Hicks and The Taste of Sunrise, we’ve had around sixty deaf people come to the play. The Stage Company’s normal deaf or hard-of-hearing audience is, we’re guessing, probably three to seven people. So to get sixty people from all over Southern Illinois is reaching a part of the community we wouldn’t normally reach.”

Zeder, by the way, will come Saturday, July 29 at 2 p.m. to Carbondale to lead a playwriting workshop. Participants will read scenes from Mother Hicks and A Taste of Sunrise, interwoven with playwriting and American Sign Language exercises. The cost is $20 for the public and $10 for Stage Company members.

“We have, I think, five or six deaf people coming to the workshop,” Purcell said. “People would learn a lot about how the deaf and hearing world clash, especially in The Taste of Sunrise, and how the playwright manages those tensions within the play.”

In addition to the play and workshop, Zeder will autograph a new edition of the complete Ware Trilogy Saturday, July 29 at the Varsity. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event.

There is also a dinner-theater option on Saturday with Zeder. The cost is $25.

Tickets for The Edge of Peace are $8 for students and $15 for the public. For tickets or more information, contact the box office at (618) 549-5466 or (800) 838-3006, or see the Stage Company’s website at <http://www.StageCompany.org>.

Showtimes for the play are at 7:30 p.m., except for the Sunday matinee, which takes place at 2 p.m.

who: Jackson County Stage Company

what: Suzan Zeder’s The Edge of Peace (live theater)

where: Varsity Center

when: Thursday through Sunday, July 27 through July 30

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