Kenzie’s Local Theatre Round-Up: November and December

From a great American classic, Christmas cheer, and a Peoria area tradition, lots of fun things have been happening in the Peoria theatre community!

At the end of October, Cornstock Theatre wrapped up a successful run of the play Death of a Salesman. The play follows Willy Loman, a struggling salesman, through twenty-four hours of his life. The play depicts Willy’s struggles with money and family, as his one of his sons tries reconnecting with his him after many years.

I interviewed Chris Peterlin, the stage manager for the show.

Q: Who is your favorite character to watch, and why?

Chris: My favorite character is Biff because he is finally understanding that their whole lives have been nothing but a lie.

Q: What do you like most about the show?

Chris: I like the range of emotions that each actor goes through in this play. Almost all of the main characters are on a roller coaster they cannot get off of.

Q: Since I’ve experienced you in both roles, I’m curious. Do you prefer directing or stage managing?

Chris: I prefer directing. I enjoy the chance to be a storyteller.

Congratulations on an amazing run to the cast and crew of Death of A Salesman!

Two Christmastime shows ran the weekends of November 11th and 18th! Peoria Players showed the classic Holiday Inn! Based on the 1942 movie of the same name, Holiday Inn follows tired singer-songwriter Jim Hardy. He leaves the bright lights of Broadway behind for the calm farm life in Connecticut. He begins his new life with enthusiasm, but just as his hopes begin to dwindle untill he meets Linda Mason. With the talented schoolteacher, Jim brings life back to the Mason farm by transforming it into the Holiday Inn, a lively venue for festive performances. However, when Linda’s talents are wanted in Hollywood, will Jim lose his best shot at happiness?

The show was a rousing success and even sold out a few times!

The second show running those weekends was The Regifters at Cornstock Theatre! When a couple receives a strange gift from their friends in Germany, they have no idea what it is or what to do with it. So, they regift it. Later, they find out the gift was of “incalculable” value. So, they are on a mission to get it back! Which turns out to be a bigger hassle than they anticipated. Along the way, all the characters learn what the reason for the season really is.

I interviewed Anna Oxborrow, who played Mary Mulligan.

Q: Why “The Regifters” as your first show back in a while?

Anna: With four kids and varying family schedules, it is hard to balance home and hobbies/loves. For three and a half years, I focused on the behind-the-scenes aspects of theatre… When I read the script of Regifters, it made me laugh out loud (which is kind of hard to do for me with scripts) ,and I had a desire to get back on stage. So, I auditioned, and was gratefully cast with some phenomenal people that made creating so fun, rewarding, and they made me laugh every rehearsal. It was the best feeling!

Q: Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Anna: …depending on the script and the show it can change. I like finding songs that represent my characters and listening to those songs to get my mind thinking in the character’s way. Sometimes, though, I have had shows where I just need silence… and I need to silence my voices in my head. I also prefer to pace and go over lines, so it gets me in the right headspace. But the one thing that is Always consistent is that I pray… this is the one thing that doesn’t vary for me. So, I make time to go someplace and pray.

Q: What do you like about acting versus directing, or being behind the scenes?

Anna: They are both incredibly thrilling! I love acting because it helps practice my first love ….and I love trying to find roles that push me to be better, and hopefully I am becoming better.

Anna: I love directing, not because I feel as though I am the best at it, but I specifically love directing teenagers because they have such an enthusiasm that is contagious and their creativity and willingness to try new things on stage and make wild choices is still fresh and exciting for them and being able to teach them to tune into what feels good and natural and get them to analyze their acting is a rush for me.

Congratulations to the cast and crew of both Holiday Inn and The Regifters!

Community Children’s Theatre is putting on a classic this December, Annie Jr! Annie Jr. follows the story of an orphan girl named Annie. When she gets adopted by billionaire Oliver Warbucks, her drab, hard-knock life is turned upside down. But the greedy head of the orphanage, Miss Hannigan, is eager to take advantage of Annie’s new parent. Will Annie be able to rid the horrible Hannigan from the orphanage, helping not only herself, but her friends too?

There are several Richwoods Students in this production, and I interviewed Savannah Maughan, who plays Sophie.

Q: Describe your role, and your favorite part about it.

Savannah: I’m one of the leaders of the Hooverville group, I love playing an angry and sarcastic part.

Q: What is your favorite thing that happens behind the scenes?

Savannah: Talking about musicals and other shows.

Q: What do you like about working with younger kids?

Savannah: I love the teaching moments where the kids get to learn about theatre, and kids are really random, so there’s always something new.

Annie Jr runs December 7th-11th 2022, at Peoria Players theatre. Get out there to support youth theatre and some fellow knights!

Finally, Eastlight Theatre in East Peoria is continuing a thirty year long tradition; its performances of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat! The production has continued to evolve technically throughout the years. I interviewed Simon Peterson, who plays Gad.

Q: What is your role in the show? And what is your favorite part about it?

Simon: I play Gad, one of the younger brothers. I sing “One More Angel” with one of the older brothers, Judah! The song is very much in my comfort zone, and I had so much fun learning it!

Q: What is your favorite part of the show?

Simon: I really enjoy mega mix, the closing number of the whole show. Getting to run around and do parts of every song is extremely rewarding.

Q: Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Simon: I personally like to tune everything out and just think. I just sit and breathe through the opening song to get into character.

Joseph will continue its run December 7th-11th, break all the legs, cast and crew! It’s going to be amazing!

That’s all for this round up, see you in 2023!