Tale as Old as Time

Rainy Days … and Mondays

By Sharon RIchardson

Maybe the Carpenters iconic song pops in your head when you read these words – but for me it is all about Beauty and the Beast.  We fought rain this year – hard.  Stormy rehearsals – waiting it out under the leaky stage – running to the farmhouse to finish Gaston/Beast fight scene – 4th tech night with an unexpected storm 1 scene after intermission.  Thankfully the cast got back to the farmhouse in time – but many of us were scrambling to get everything up and protected.  Michael and I in an open roof Kubota making our way thru the trees during the heart of the tsunami will be a memory for the ages.  I actually didn’t realize jeans could get that heavy when wet!  Admittedly it was funny during the drive and we didn’t hit a tree so all was good!

We escaped our Thursday Preview Night unscathed so we were gonna sail right through the whole weekend of shows, right?  Mother Nature had other ideas. Storms this season have been unpredictable and quite severe at times.  Opening Night started out excellent.  Huge crowd gathering in the audience and at the festival – the cast getting ready with an electric buzz in the air – their show was so ready to make its premiere and they could not wait to share it with you.  I’ll never forget the moment I walked out on the farmhouse porch and glanced up at the sky and thought – hey those clouds look a little weird.  There stood our Beast, Nick, looking up at the same clouds.  I quickly assured him radar looks good – smooth sailing ahead.  What I didn’t know was a storm had just popped up near Dwight and was heading north.  It looked like it would just skirt the edge of us, we might get a little rain, but nothing to be concerned about.  I announced to the audience some weather was heading our way – please take cover – but no worries – plenty of time to show time.  Well that “small” little system grew and stayed swirling over us.  Radar kept changing by the minute and here we all were glued to our screens – the cast in the farmhouse – the crew backstage – the audience in the pavilion, gazebo and their cars.  I kept assuring the cast that by show time – or even a delayed show time – we were gonna make it.  But Mother Nature decided tonight was not going to be our opening night and we had to call it.  I felt all the emotions from all over the park just sink into my soul.  The cast is fully aware of rain dates – but of course we aren’t going to need them!  So people make plans – vacations – days off from work – other shows – family & friends here that could ONLY come that date.   AND then there was that huge audience waiting out there patiently that now were all exiting at the same moment in a storm.  I felt the angst of the world squarely on my shoulders.  I am the one that tells everyone how fantastic outdoor theatre is and right now we were smack in the middle of when it’s not.

We got hit with a few big storms that night so we had some digging out to do the next day so that we could actually have our postponed opening night!  Help started rolling in.  A message from the BTPD Executive Director’s wife Pam – “How can I help?”  Anthony Settle, BTPD Board Commissioner, “I’ll be right there.”  Bill Hengl, BTPD volunteer, “I’m right behind Anthony.”  They spent hours loading in woodchips to our backstage area for our cast.  Tech and backstage crew came rolling in to assess all parts to make sure there was no damage and get everything back up and running.  We do not have the luxury of just walking into an auditorium and flipping on the power.  Every single thing we do is in the great outdoors.  That night in our circle time backstage in the tent – that had just been loaded full of woodchips hours before – I looked around at that fantastic cast and saw the sun setting over the meadow – and my message to them was anything worth doing is not easy and not without risk – we were living proof of that – I then knew it was supposed to be tonight – magic was present tonight at Perry Farm – and what an incredible opening night it ended up being.

The stars in the sky and the stars on the stage shone brighter than ever on this glorious night.   Experiencing the things that make outdoor theatre what it is – the wolves coming out of the woods with spooky lighting and fog – Gaston falling 17 feet to his death – torches with real fire in the mob scene – the Beast singing his big number with a slight breeze rustling in the trees behind him in the West Wing.  I sat there most of the night teary eyed watching the fantastic cast sing and act their hearts out – having overcome everything that could be thrown at them – and performing at this level – it felt amazing and gratifying.

Fast forward to Sunday nights delayed start due to a storm that blew in and then blew out.  The stage crew jumped into high gear drying everything off and fixing things that got wet or damaged in the brief storm.  Audience member Randy Tumblin ran home and got his giant squeegee and towels and jumped up there and started helping.  Another good Samaritan ran home and got a pile of towels.  The next morning Eric and Grant Penrod came and put down more wood chips in our muddy center aisle so Monday nights audience would not get muddy feet.  People cared.  People wanted to help.  And the community came together to ensure we could put on our show.

Outdoor theatre is tough.  It is not for the weak or lazy.  The heat, bugs, and rain will separate the weak from the strong quickly.    But what does happen is a bond is formed that can’t adequately be described.  We survived.  We survived together.  We created something out of nothing.  We created something beautiful that can’t be duplicated anywhere ever.  SO I am here to tell you it is worth it.  It is awe inspiring – gratifying – fulfilling – and hard work.  BUT with the right group of people – anything is possible.

Thanks to all of you for supporting us during this weather driven year.  For loving us – for helping us – and for making sure we continue to do this crazy thing called outdoor theatre.  Henry Ford said “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”  I can’t thank everyone enough for the togetherness it takes to do this.  We love you and salute you!

Our rainy days led to a Monday night performance – and you know what?  That was A-OK!

Now on to Sleepy Hollow………..

Tale as Old as Time

“Acting Out” of My Comfort Zone

by McKenzey Testerman

When I think about my experience with Acting Out Theater Co. this summer, lots of memories and emotions flood my mind. There were some nights, like the June bug massacre, when I was prone to wonder, “Why are we doing this outside?”  But there were other nights when the sun would be setting in the castle’s west wing and it all made sense.

A pivotal moment for me was opening night. We had all gotten our hair and makeup done, we had our costumes on, and we were ready to go. It started to get a little cloudy so we were looking at the radar on our phones. We watched as the storm started to head our way, growing bigger and bigger. Most of us had already been delivered to the stage, so we loaded back into the van and headed for shelter, all the while hoping we wouldn’t need it. We piled into the Farm House and waited it out.

Though our hearts were sinking, we kept our spirits up. Saying things like “Oh it’ll be past us by 8:30”. Then when 8:30 passed but the storm didn’t, we said, “It’ll definitely be gone by 9:00,” but we didn’t get to find out. The show was cancelled at 8:40. When Sharon came into the room to tell us that they were going to call it, you could feel the disappointment in the air. But you could also feel the love.

It was on tough nights like that one that our cast became a family. At the time, I could not see a silver lining on a single one of those storm clouds, but the rain that weekend left us with rainbows and cooler weather. God had our backs all along. And, because of the storm, I got to spend an extra day, singing and dancing, with my wonderful cast.

Every hot and humid night, every disappointing rain cloud, and every single bug bite was made worth it when we stepped out on that stage and were met with the lit up faces of little girls dressed in yellow ball gowns as well as those of parents and grandparents.  Magic has no age limit.

They didn’t know that it took three months to nail our harmony, they didn’t know that I had to duct tape my strapless bra to myself because it lost its stickiness two shows ago, and they definitely didn’t know about that time a June bug flew out of Louis’ mouth.

All they knew was that Belle was falling in love with the Beast at their local Perry Farm: a place they might drive by every day, a place they might never have given a second glance. But now, there’s magic there. Even after the costumes are sent back and the stage is torn down, the community will still be able to reminisce about the beauty and love that was brought to life there.

Theater blurs the line between fantasy and reality just enough so we can drift away from the struggles of this life for just an hour or two and fall in love with a beast right alongside of a beauty. And that’s why I’m a theater kid.

Theater, like Belle’s time with the Beast, is not easy. You might not walk away unscathed but you will also not walk away unchanged.

So as I’m sitting here, receiving Snapchats of everyone’s new haircuts (you know it’s over when everyone chops their hair off), I’m not dwelling on all the hardships. I am dwelling on the blessings of the summer and thanking the Lord for every single person who, because of this production, has changed my life. Thank you.

Tale as Old as Time

A Beautiful Experience

By Sergio Pena Pacheco
This was my first show with Acting Out Theatre Company.  It was a beautiful experience, and I can’t wait to do it again.  Everything from the stage being built to a delayed opening night was amazing.  I loved all the costumes put together with the lights, set, and props.  The great outdoors reduced us as being bug food some nights, but it was worth it.   I made a bunch of new friends.  The whole cast was fun to hang with and welcoming to new cast members.  Each cast member spent time getting to know each other and was willing to take time to help me!  From sharing bug spray to exchanging helpful hints, we were all there for each other.

Beauty and the Beast was a huge opportunity for me to grow.  I was extremely nervous walking into auditions, and I had no idea what to expect.  It was intimidating sitting among people I knew had way more experience than me.  However, as I met new people and learned about all their experiences, I was able to relax and enjoy rehearsals.  Sharon made me feel so welcome, like I was supposed to be there, and Kendra was very understanding and patient with me learning new dances.  By the time show time came, I was so proud of myself for how far I had come.  Walking onto that stage, I knew I was part of the Acting Out family, and it feels amazing to belong to a group like that.

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.  It truly takes a village to bring a show to the community, so thanks again to staff and cast of Acting Out.  I can’t wait to see what’s next!


Current Show

Beauty and The Beast

Our Friday night performance was canceled. Please retain your ticket stub and join us for our performances on Sunday or Monday evening.

Additional tickets for Monday Night’s performance are available ONLINE HERE. 


Dates: July 21, 22 & 23, 2017
Location: Perry Farm Park, Bourbonnais, Il  60914
Showtime: 8:00 PM
Rain Dates: July 24 (now added) & 25 (will only be added in the event of a second rain cancelation)
Pre-show Enchanted French Market: 5:30 – 7:30
Tickets: $18 ($25 at the gate)  available at Perry Farm House, King MusicJoy’s Hallmark and ONLINE HERE (service charge applies).

Gates open at 5:15  Bring a lawn chair!

Continue reading “Beauty and The Beast” »

Tale as Old as Time

Tale as Old as Time with a Twist!

Well it’s tech week and all of our hard work is starting to pay off. We will have a coming together of all of the parts this week and boy is it exciting. Saturday night was the Sitzprobe, a seated rehearsal where the actors first sing with the orchestra, and really just WOW! Our light and sound technicians are “in the house” ready to make their magic. Finally most of the set and stage are finished, with a few touch ups here and there happening this week. Costumes are rented, sewn and constructed and gathered in the Perry Farm House.  Beautiful props a plenty are assembled with set pieces in pods behind the stage. Our make up and hair teams have been assembled. And oh yeah, puppets and puppet stage are ready to go!!

We decided to open our show in a less conventional manner, the Prologue will begin with a puppet show. We are very excited about this innovative twist. The Prince, Beggar Woman and Enchantress are created and standing by to start our show!

They,  along with the rest of the cast and crew look forward to seeing you this weekend at Perry Farm Park!

Tickets are $18 and are available at Joy’s Hallmark and King Music Inc and the Perry Farm House (cash or check) or online HERE!



Tale as Old as Time

Why We Do What We Do

By Nick Adams

My first experience with Acting Out and outdoor theatre has been a challenging one. From receiving a role I did not expect, to the many nights of long rehearsals and rainstorms. I say challenging, not in a negative way, but in the most positive way possible.

I have been stretched and have grown as an actor, have met many new friends, and have learned to go with the flow and be flexible (especially when unexpected storms blow through!). But all of the stress, fatigue, and worry will pale in comparison to the end result. The payoff.

The moment the orchestra plays the overture, all of the stress of the past few months melts away with the music, and the cast comes out and puts on the best show they can. And the second the audience applauds for the first time, we all remember why we do what we do. Why we put ourselves through these trying experiences and rough moments that come with putting on a show.
It’s worth it.

As actors, it is worth it to lose sleep and be worn out from long, hot nights of rehearsal, only to do it again the next night. When we see how the show we’ve worked so hard on come to life and wow you, the audience, we would do it all again in a heartbeat. Without an audience, what we do is meaningless. So thank you to all who support the arts and give meaning to what we as actors do, and for making our challenges worth it.

Tale as Old as Time

Be Our Guest at the Enchanted French Market

By Kirsten Bishir
It’s July and final preparations are in full swing to create our magical escape to the French Countryside.  This year we are inviting you to Be Our Guest as we transform an area of Perry Farm into an enchanted French Market.  The scene is already idyllic with open grassy fields, and shaded glens, and denser forests.

Along the edge of this we will place our French Market.  Vendors selling amazing food, fruit, flowers and more.

Some  of our favorite Vendors will return this year.  The Bennett Curtis House will be there serving Cornish Hens and Smoked Turkey Legs for the Gaston in all of us.  Sweet Street will again be serving snow cones, and popcorn and other treats to satisfy your sweet tooth.  The Nuns of St. Roger Abbey will be back taking all of us to France with their Organic French Pastries, Tarts, and Macarons.  Oberweis Dairy will be there to cool us off with their ice cream and sundaes, always popular with our patrons.  Panozzo’s Fruit Stand will be offering fresh fruits, and flowers for your special someone or your favorite cast member.  Add in Crème of the Crop and Bulls BBQ and there is something for everyone!  We have other special activities and photo opportunities being planned and the park offers its own opportunities for fun.

We are working hard to prepare for you, our guests, so arrive early, gates open at 5:30 pm, place your chairs, and Be Our Guests.



Tale as Old as Time

The Comfort & Freedom of Outdoors

By Helen Berdebes
The theatre is a place where I have always found refuge. There is something incredible about showing up somewhere and being able to shed the day’s troubles, becoming a completely new person. I have been in many shows throughout high school and college, but this is my very first community theatre production. With all of my previous production experiences the refuge was found in a traditional theatre building. While I have an extreme love for indoor theatre, nothing could prepare me for the beauty of an outdoor community theatre experience.

A few days ago we had our first of many full cast outdoor rehearsals at the stage. I showed up prepared with my bug spray and chair, unsure of how I felt, trading the safety of the indoor theatre for the outside. I quickly realized that I had nothing to fear, the precious indoor theatres will always be there, but this was a special treat. There is a freeing feeling about spending evenings creating art outdoors. It almost seems as though we are transcending time back to a simpler place where you would stay out with friends after dark playing make believe with the fireflies.

It is a treasure to find this mindset of joy and peace that can often seem to vanish from adult life. As if being outdoors is an old friend and you can’t help but to smile, embrace them, and pick up where you left off. The magic of the outdoor theatre truly creates an atmosphere of nostalgia and summer at its finest.

There is no age limit to this freedom. The oldest members of the cast strike up conversations with the youngest and people from different walks of life share their stories and bring their various experiences to the table. All walls are broken down when we hit Perry Farm. The comfort and freedom of the outdoors makes it feel less intimidating to ask questions of those more experienced. The knowledge and talent is free flowing in all directions and fosters a great environment for performers to grow and flourish.

This bonding allows something truly magical to come to life. When the cast comes together and feels this fleeting lift, it is sure to permeate through to the audience as well. I am thankful to have a place to create this sort of magic and comfort for others fueling catharsis through the overwhelming joy of outdoor theatre. Come see Acting Out Theatre Company’s Beauty and the Beast at Perry Farm and enjoy a truly enchanted evening under the stars with us.

Tale as Old as Time

An Audition Experience

By Lauren Rybolt

For the past several years, I had the honor of playing my violin in the orchestra for Acting Out Theater Company. I planned on continuing to play for this year’s production, until it was announced that this year’s production would be Beauty and the Beast. My heart skipped a few beats, and I immediately decided I would not be playing my violin in the orchestra for the 2017 summer production. I decided that I would be auditioning for the Acting Out Theater Company’s production of Beauty and the Beast.

I anxiously waited several months for the audition form to be posted on the AOTC website, and the minute the form was posted, I prayed while I provided each line of vital information. After selecting the perfect headshot, I submitted my completed audition form, and began to prepare for what was to be the most incredible audition of my life. I have never auditioned for Acting Out before, and did not know what to expect come audition day. If you have ever dreamed of performing with Acting Out, I strongly encourage you to audition for next year’s production. I can honestly say the audition process with Acting Out Theater Company will most likely be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.

A few months passed since I submitted my audition form, and audition day had finally arrived. I entered the audition space, and received a paper number, along with a shiny new safety pin. The audition process began shortly after I arrived, and the directors arranged us on deck in ascending order. As I entered the dance space, my nerves seemed to dissipate as my excitement began to grow. I was placed in a group of four, and danced once in the front row, and once in the back row. I felt a moment of surrealism, for I could not believe that I finally made it to auditions.

Once everyone had danced their best, the directors led us to our vocal audition space. My nerves overcame me once again as we created a line in the hall in ascending order. Trembling, I proceeded into the vocal audition room, stated my name, and asked to have two bars before my starting point. The accompanist laughed, and said I owed him two dollars, one for each bar. It was such a great relief to laugh and leave my nerves behind me as I began to sing my audition piece.

After singing my audition piece, I was informed the callback list would be posted later that night. I knew that I would not be sleeping that night, and kept refreshing the AOTC website in anticipation. Once callbacks were posted, I took a deep breath in as I began to scroll through the numbers that were listed. At first glance, I forgot what number I was, because my nerves had overcome me. Once it registered with me, I yelled, “Oh My Gosh!” There it was, my number was on the callback list!

After a sleepless night that was full of excitement and emotion, I prepared for my callback. My entire nervous system was in shock, and I could not wait to enter the audition space once again. Upon arrival, I was informed of the order in which I would be singing and reading lines. I was still in disbelief, that I not only got a callback, but I was acting alongside people I previously saw perform in unforgettable productions.

Shortly after callbacks had come to an end, the cast list was posted. I took a deep breath in, and scrolled through the names that were listed next to each character. I exhaled as I read my name next to ensemble/townsperson/enchanted object. I could not have been more excited knowing I was joining the Acting Out Theater Company cast for Beauty and the Beast!

I encourage you to use your musical strengths, and audition for an Acting Out Theater Company production. It is such an incredible opportunity that allows you to showcase your dancing skills, vocal range, and acting abilities. Through Acting Out, I have found another place of home, and so much love through the many friendships I have formed.