The Importance of Family

By Alyssa Norden

In the words of one of my close friends, “Life is a journey.” Now more than ever do I realize the truth to this statement. As a child I always dreamed of leaving this small town and experiencing the world. My life journey brought me to Brazil, Hong Kong, and South Korea. I even had the opportunity to live in New York City and Los Angeles. All of my adolescent life I dreamed of a life of adventure away from home. Each city turned out to be even more beautiful than I would have ever dreamed. If someone would have told me that I would return to my roots I would have had a good laugh. I loved my new life of adventure and possibilities.

It was not until recently that I had a realization. The longer that a tree grows the further the roots secure it into the ground. Where did I want my roots to stabilize me? In New York City? Los Angeles? What would my life look like? What is the most important thing in my life? Before this moment I thought that I knew. A city life excited me with the possibilities it brought.

My sister recently adopted the most beautiful baby boy that I have ever seen. Watching her little family sprout and the love that surrounded them from our family put my entire life into perspective. Before this moment I did not realize the sacrifice that a life in New York City would be. The importance of family is extraordinary and indescribable. Missing family celebrations, surgeries, and a baby’s first steps were not worth it. My dream was changing before my eyes.

So it is with great pleasure that I have moved back to my hometown. The past few months have proved to me that I have made the right decision. The importance of family was too substantial.

This brings me to Acting Out Theater Company. It is like a big family. I want to urge you to be a part of this family through Beauty and the Beast. It will be a life changing, eye opening experience. Come and be a part of our family! More info HERE!

Audition Listings

Beauty and the Beast Auditions

We will be casting principal roles and an ensemble including 5 children.
Ensemble members will be both townspeople and enchanted objects. We need all ages.

Location:  The Recreation Station (A Bourbonnais Township Park District facility)  770 E. Franklin St., Bradley

Dance Workshop – March 8th at 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM – (For everyone auditioning, adults and children)
Please wear appropriate dance attire and footwear.

Cant make the dance workshop?
Dance Audition – Video 1 Video 2 

Vocal and Dance Auditions – Saturday March 11th

          Children & Chip – (8 to 12 years old) – 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM or 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (this is a change)

          Adults – 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM or 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Callbacks – Sunday March 12th – 2:00 PM
Continue reading “Beauty and the Beast Auditions” »

The Road to Bedford Falls

Moments and Memories

By Sharon Richardson

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”  ~Dr. Seuss

I shared this quote with the cast of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in one of our circle times during our weekend of shows.  Given this is our third time performing this particular radio show – I had been recalling special moments and memories from the other two years and had reminded the cast to pay particular attention to all the special moments we were feeling – for in a very short time – they become beloved memories.

Memories are tricky things really.  We tend to recall more good times than bad – we tend to romanticize our memories – downplaying the bad and exaggerating the good – and when all the memories are warm and fuzzy like my past It’s a Wonderful Life memories are – then that really impacts you in a big way.  First off – I love the message of this story – it is every man’s story and all of us can benefit from thinking about what the world we know would be like if we had never existed – it is a powerful realization really.  All of us impact way more people and lives than we can ever fully grasp.  But then couple that with the tremendous group of people that make up this cast and crew – and you have a recipe for life changing moments and memories.  Beyond the talent they all possess – they are really some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  And when I look at each of them – some I have known for many, many years – some I have only known a couple of years – but regardless –  each of them have had a profound impact on me and my life and the realization of how much richer my life is from knowing them.

The holidays are full of moments and memories – and for many – the holidays are tough – missing loved ones – unmet expectations – loneliness – and the list goes on and on.  The feedback we received from many was this little radio show was the highlight of their holiday – that it helped some through a rough holiday season – that it made others realize they aren’t alone, that they can’t be a failure if they have friends, etc. – I am so happy that some moments from our show helped a few have some impactful holiday memories.

I am sharing one person’s experience at the show with their permission – Lynda Kambic – wife of Phil Kambic – President and Executive Director of Riverside Hospital – shared the moments from the show with Carl and staff at Riverside – that will stick with her.

I wanted to thank you again for treating us to the production of It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Play at the Knights of Columbus by Acting Out Theatre Co.  What an amazing experience as well as wonderful food and just all around holiday fun.  It’s truly refreshing to know we have such great talent in our own back yard.  This is something people may have braved the winter roads and traveled to Chicago to see and we just had a nice 15 minute drive to Kankakee.

The cast blew me away, literally transforming into radio personalities and doing a “Live radio show” on stage, set in such a wonderful era of pin curls, suits and dresses, furniture from the 40’s as well as the large light bulbs with tinsel dressed Christmas trees.  This literally brings you back to a “color” version of the old Jimmy Stewart classic!  And leaving no stone un-turned, the “commercials” included singing jingles to our own Riverside Healthcare, Nana’s Cakery, and others.  The details were not just in the production, dinner was delicious, specialty drinks, and a delicious array of desserts.  Just when you think they covered it all, a tradition of the cast delivering mints to each table after the play–perfection!

Our own, Carl Maronich did an amazing job at Freddie Filmore, the radio host and added his small quirks of humor.  Bill Yohnka as Jake Laurents (radio star), portrayed a perfect George Bailey.  The talent was beyond anyone’s imagination as singing, and acting was over and above what some may expect in a local production.  This all leaves you feeling a sense of pride as you saw our “very own” community members share their talents and leave it all on the stage.

Phil, I’m asking you to share this with your staff and a thank you to Riverside for being sponsors of the Arts in our area.  Unfortunately you can’t see THIS production again until 2018, however, they announced they will be performing Beauty and the Beast at the Perry Farm Park in July of 2017!  I encourage you all to take a little time, throw caution to the wind and bring your family to see some very talented people in our community….and enjoy some time out.

Thank you for sharing the holiday spirit!  What fun!!! – Lynda

So to all of you that will have to wait until 2018 to share in these moments again – we have another family memory making opportunity coming right up this summer at Beauty and the Beast!  Make plans to bring all the children in your life – and all of us that are still children at heart – to Perry Farm Park July 21, 22 or 23.  It will be another tale as old as time – that will speak to each of us as we all try to navigate through life’s ups and downs.

When we share these moments and memories together as a community – all of us are richer and better off from the experience.  Which in turn leads to a stronger, more connected, caring place to live.  The arts – it changes lives.


The Road to Bedford Falls


By Cody Gindy


It seems wrong to start a blog post about foley without a little onomatopoeia.


 Yesterday afternoon was the final performance of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play. Thanks to everyone who attended. If you missed it, mark your calendars for December 2018, it’s a lot of fun. I promise.
I was delighted to act as the Foley artist for the third year.
(You can listen to our recorded show on 1320 WKAN on Christmas Eve at 8 PM & Christmas Day at 2 PM & 8 PM)


 In short, I use props to make live sound effects.

 Foley is a technique that has been used across story telling mediums. The work of the Foley artist becomes particularly important in radio where the entire story is sound. While radio dramas are rare these days, traditional Foley is still used in modern film. Many of the contraptions I used in It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play are industry standard and some are still used in the making of sound effects today. Below are a few of my favorite sound effects from the show and how they’re made.

 Harry Bailey falls through the ice. Smash a taco shell (ice cracking), quickly pull plunger out of a bucket of water ( Harry splashing).

 Windows breaking in the old Granville house. Throw a spice bottle onto a pile of loose wind chimes.

 Open and close a door. Open and close a door.

 Not all of them are that exciting. If you want to learn more about the art of Foley, start with this video. It’s quite enjoyable.

The Road to Bedford Falls

Community, Generosity & Faith

By Bill Yohnka

It is one of the iconic scenes in Frank Capra’s, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George is stressed. The crowd gathered at the Bailey Brothers Building and Loan is hostile. George pleads with them not to lose faith in his institution, or with each other. He and Mary dig into their honeymoon money to make small loans in an effort to get through the crisis. A disgruntled depositor argues that he wants all the $242 he has invested at the Building and Loan. He makes the case that, “$242 isn’t going to break anyone.”

While George shows tremendous leadership in this scene I find myself stopping and thinking about how often I play the role of the one who is demanding and insensitive?

If we fast forward to 2016 many of the themes hold true from the film. Community, generosity and faith in each other are still virtues we want to strive for. But times have changed. When we factor inflation that $242 in 1945, it is the equivalent of $3,249.91 in 2016. Sadly, $3,249.91 will break a lot of families in our community. Medical bills, a job loss, family emergencies can put many people in holes that are hard to climb out of. So, in reality, He was wrong. $242 could break someone. He was so focused on his money and his situation he lost sight of the larger community he shared.

This holiday season I play George Bailey in Acting Out Theatre’s radio style production of this classic. The story is inspiring but for me there is an extra dose of inspiration that is drawn from all of the real-life “George Baileys” I know around the Kankakee area. Community bankers, philanthropists, educators, leaders and so many who put service to others over personal accomplishments.

Specifically, I see the spirit of George Bailey in all those who support Habitat for Humanity of Kankakee County. Much like George, Habitat is helping to find a path toward home ownership for families that might not have fit into traditional financing. Like George, Habitat understands that communities are better when families have a decent place to call home. And like George, our local Habitat for Humanity organization is made up of people who never gave up on their hometown and pause to celebrate successes with all the new homeowners.

So what does Habitat have to do with the $242 dollars? That answer is in the final scene. Charlie was so moved when he heard George was in trouble that he gave that same amount he was so demanding about,  $242. While I play George on stage, in many situations I have been more like the disgruntled Building and Loan customer. I feel like there are times when many of us have asked for more from people than we really needed. There are many times when we have thought about ourselves at the expense of others.

So, perhaps this holiday season is a chance to stop, reflect and give in a dramatic way. To get this started, in celebration of our production of “It’s A Wonderful Life” and lieu of extra material items this season, I pledge to give Habitat for Humanity $242 this Christmas to continue the real-life George Bailey work they do. I am calling on friends, family and those who are inspired by the story to do the same and spread that inspiration here in the Kankakee area. I don’t expect everyone to give $242 dollars, $24.20 is acceptable or even $2.42 (or anything that comes out of a busted jukebox or from collecting on drug store charge accounts). On the other end of the spectrum, if you can get a hold of Sam Wainwright in Europe, let him know that $25,000 will do a lot of good here in Kankakee. The whole idea here is to make this more than a story we love at Christmas but to make it a part of how we impact the community we live in.

If there is something people take away from our local production, I hope it is that they realize George Baileys are real. They aren’t always the ones arguing with Potter in a boardroom or running financial institutions. Many times they are in jeans and t-shirts working alongside families to help make the simple dream of home-ownership a reality, and you can be one of them.

To learn more about how you can help Habitat for Humanity of Kankakee County at

For ticket information about Acting Out Theatre’s production of “It’s A Wonderful Life” on Dec. 16, 18 and 18 log onto

The Road to Bedford Falls

What Would Potter Say?

By Rodger Allen Jones

Family traditions are as old as time.  It matters not where you were born or where you grew up, because your family had them anyway in some form, especially during the holiday season.  It is rare though when a familial tradition transcends and encompasses one of the most ‘iconic stories’ during the Christmas Season.  It is even rarer when that same tradition is almost universal.  Such is the case with ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’.

Believe it or not, I have run into people recently who have NEVER, yep, NEVER saw the classic black and white film.  What were their parents thinking?  This is mean and cruel to deprive their children of this heartwarming story and family memories, never to be reclaimed.  This is something only Potter would do.  They might as well say that ‘America’ and ‘apple pie’ are not synonymous.


It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), originally made for Liberty Films, is one of the most popular and heartwarming films ever made by director Frank Capra. Frank Capra regarded this film as his own personal favorite – it was also James Stewart’s favorite of all his feature films.

It was originally a box-office flop in the 1940s and didn’t become the current sensation it has until the 1970s when it was played numerous times on television during Christmas time when it fell into public domain and therefore could air for free.

Now imagine if you will, the opportunity to not only witness this story, but to see it as it realistically would have been done in the 1940s as an actual ‘radio show studio production’  before a  live audience.  It is complete with actors playing several characters voices and an actual ‘Foley Artist’ who produces all the authentic sounds for the radio audience.  The story now takes on an additional sensory experience.  You as the live audience and the radio listeners magically become a part of telling this story.


There is such a character study, from sweet Mary (Bailey) to kind hearted, yet longing for something greater George Bailey, Clarence the Angel who you are rooting for to ‘win his wings’.  Add hero Harry Bailey and of course bumbling Uncle Billy who you have to feel compassion for, to the antagonist and heartless Mr. Potter, who reminds everyone of a cranky boss they may have had at one point.  The iconic Zuzu line, “Every time a bell rings an…”  You can finish her line right?

Here is why this is a must see experience in Kankakee December 16, 17, and 18.  You save money on Chicago parking and you still get a professional style show.  I have been fortunate to perform in several locations in the USA and other countries and I can assure you the cast of this Acting Out Theatre Company’s show will not disappoint.  This is my ‘acting family’ at this time of year and this is like a family reunion.  We can’t wait for this year to share with our audience, a new location, new actors, new tweaks and jingles.

This community has a gem of gifted actors and singers, and I defy one to say they did not have a great experience in the Cameo Room at the Knights of Columbus location. You will be transported to a time gone by.  Oh and there is a great dinner, lunch, or dessert show option for every budget.  Trust me Potter’s even is willing to spend money to attend.  In fact I guarantee he will be there.  So why not rekindle memories with family and friends and come join us?



The Road to Bedford Falls

Timing is Everything

By Randy Tumblin
Timing is everything.  Ask any stand up comedienne who has stood before a live audience as he or she delivers a one liner.  If the pause is too long, the humor can go dry.  If the comedienne delivers the line too quickly, the audience can’t digest the humor and the joke goes flat.  Timing.

Some people have a great sense of timing.  Actors love to perform with fellow actors who have great timing.  Scenes seem to fly by when actors are on the same page with the timing of a scene.  Acting seems effortless.  Humor clicks.  Dramatic scenes click.  The intensity of a scene seems to flow from every actor when they are on the same timing page.

Every actor also knows the struggles of poor timing.  A pause that took way too long.

Another actor enters the scene seconds late and the audience is left hanging, waiting, just a bit too long.  It’s all in the timing.

Waiting for the audience to respond also demands good timing.  I often tell young actors, “give the audience permission, and time, to laugh.  If an actor delivers a line….. then rushes to the next line before the audience can react, process, emote, and laugh, then the audience will go into a shell and not laugh.  They will be afraid to miss a line.  So, they quit laughing.   This is a timing issue.

Timing takes trust, practice, and patience.  Since the last Christmas Season, the whole world has waited in anticipation and hope for the new Christmas Season.  The religious folk seem a bit more patient while the retail folk hurry each Christmas Season.  Pretty soon, Black Friday will begin on the Monday before Thanksgiving.  Just wait!


Timing for the next production of It’s A Wonderful Life is just right.  It has been two years since our last performance.  Rehearsals began at just the right time.  The performances are scheduled a week before Christmas.  Just right.  The Actors, new and old, have been brought together during this season to create something that will be special and memorable.  Just wait and see.

The religious folk who are Christian call this the season of Advent.  A time of waiting, hope, and expectation.  The commercial folk call it the season when revenues exceed costs.  A simple term for this is “profit”.  That’s a good thing.  Profits come in many ways.  They might be measured in money.  They might be measured in family time together.  Profits might be measured in giving of ourselves to others who have limited joy during this time of year.  The right kind of profits can’t be measured at the mall or at  Rather, they are measured in our increase of love and compassion for one another.

That’s the measure of It’s A Wonderful Life.  This timeless classic is perfect for our time.  Joy, love, belonging, human identity, community, and a sense of caring for one another all rise to the top in this wonderful classic.  The timing is right for It’s A Wonderful Life.  Join us at the Knights of Columbus and tell us if the actors waited long enough for the audience to respond.  We need you to let us know.  Clarence is waiting in the wings, and waiting for his wings.  I hope the time is right.


The Road to Bedford Falls

Choosing a Wonderful Life

By Allison Beasley
When tragedy strikes a person’s life, inevitably one’s life changes. Those changes can either define your life negatively or you simply try and learn from it. In January my 68-year-old father went to see his doctor with some mild stomach discomfort. He was immediately hospitalized and diagnosed with a rare form of bile duct cancer. We lost him 12 days later. I was devastated. Immediately my life shifted to helping my grieving mother try to put the pieces of her life back together. She gradually became ill herself. More devastation. The six months after my father died was the most challenging time of my life. I became a caregiver to my mother and no matter where I was I felt like I was neglecting someone – if I was with my mom, I felt I was neglecting my husband and children. If I was with them or working, I felt I should be with my mom. In August, she became so ill that we called Hospice in. My mother died at the end of August, and I was left wondering how all of this happened. When I rang in the new year on January 1, I never realized 2016 would be my own private hell. It was time to do some soul-searching.

Reassessing my life, I realized I needed to get busy doing the things that I love. There isn’t time in life to agree to spend a lot of time doing things I don’t love. I was asked to help out with production in Acting Out’s “Sleepy Hollow” in October. I had been a guide for a few years, but this year I gladly accepted the challenge of working more on the back end of this outstanding production. I loved every minute of it!

Working behind the scenes of Sleepy Hollow has transitioned nicely into being Assistant Director for Acting Out’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I performed in this show for two years, but now I’m spending time in love with the production aspect of the show. Being on the other side of this production gives me endless joy! Watching these actors transform their parts over the course of rehearsals, and being able to give input into what will become the final product is absolutely heaven for me now.


We all have our own tragedies that affect our lives everyday. George Bailey understands how tragedy can almost define who you are, if you let it. But you can’t let it. When it’s my own time to go, I hope that I’ll be able to look back and say that I wasted no time doing things I didn’t love. Living life to the fullest, squeezing every bit of joy out of this existence – that would truly be a wonderful life. And I intend to have one.