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Helping “Frame” the Arts & Entertainment District in Kankakee

Helping “Frame” the Arts & Entertainment District in Kankakee

By Bill Yohnka

I have explained to people, “It isn’t as if they just show up and do a show.” The experience that Acting Out Theatre Company brings to a community is much bigger than the nights of the production. I have seen and experienced the way Acting Out makes themselves part of the community from being involved in other events to working alongside local businesses to team up for success.

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Selfishly, from the very first Acting Out show, I wanted to find a way to have a production in downtown Kankakee. First, because the shows are good. Secondly, and most importantly to me, is that these shows have a magical quality to them that captured the excitement of people that may not have been fans of theatre before. It was something I saw happen in Momence in 2013 for the production of Chicago. I wanted to see how that could look in Kankakee.

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The summer production also fits with a greater vision for the city. Downtown Kankakee was recently designated our “Arts and Entertainment District.” Alderman Stacy Gall led the effort for official naming. She made it clear. “We are just putting a frame around what is already happening in downtown Kankakee.”

Acting Out fits nicely into what is happening in Kankakee. The show and excitement around it are keys reasons we are looking forward to the summer in downtown Kankakee. How many small Midwestern cities will be hosting an outdoor production of Sweeney Todd this summer? Yes, only one, Kankakee, IL.

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I have never heard anyone describe the backs of The Firestone and the Telephone buildings as “perfect” until they became the backdrop for Sweeney Todd. The aged bricks, the historic molding, antique fire escape, they all add to the look that will create London more than a century ago. But these buildings and Kankakee are just the canvas for the stunning set design, the spectacular costumes, lighting, talent that will make the show a reality. Over the past 5 years Acting Out has made a name for themselves by always raising the bar for unique outdoor productions. We are honored to host them in Downtown Kankakee