Wednesday, July 25, 2012
BIG RIVER SAILING SMOOTHLY by Pamela Powell
Acting Out Theatre Company, now in its second year, will bring to the Kankakee area yet another outdoor production on the banks of the Kankakee River: "Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." In addition to the 13 businesses underwriting this venture, the cast of over 34 and 22 volunteers make this production a possibility. As Sharon Richardson, Director, stated, "It takes a village and we are so furtunate to be surrounded by incredibly talented people" I couldn't agree more as I was able to be an observer while they sewed, put on make-up, warmed up their voices and then did a run-through of the musical overlooking the river as the sun set. Not only is this an appropriate venue for this production, it's beautiful. There was a cool breeze off the river to keep the bugs away and the sun setting shone upon the actors faces giving them a luminous look not found on any interior stage.
Back at the "dressing area," the energy level was high as the actors' hair was curled, sprayed and then sprayed some more all the while hearing various songs being belted out of soloists and the chorus alike. In every corner you looked, there was action...sewing, chatting, rehearsing, and singing. The actors excitedly headed out of the building to the river stage for one of their final run-throughs of the week.
Lighting techs and musicians from the orchestra were already there perfecting what they had practiced. The 9-piece orchestra was quite unique with a banjo, guitar and harmonica along with the "typical" instruments of an orchestra. The actors noisily assembled in groups overlooking the river, skipping stones and chatting to pass a few minutes before the true action started. Smiles were everywhere. This was obviously a close-knit group of various age groups who loved being a part of "Big River."
The director, Sharon Richardson, brought the group together on stage for a bit of direction and pep talk, but truly, this group didn't need a pep talk. Their love of what they were about to do was going to permeate the environment for all to enjoy. The set was gorgeous as was the setting which all looked unbelievably professional from the levels of the stage to the mechanized raft. The backdrop was priceless.
"Big River" takes place at River Road Park in Kankakee on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 27, 28, and 29 at 8:00 pm. Tickets are only $10 at various locations, $11 on-line, and $12 at the gate. Bring a lawn chair early! Riverfest starts at 5:30 pm for your enjoyment before the performance! For more information, go to actingouttheatreco.org. A full review of the musical will be on this blog on Monday!