Tale as Old as Time

The Importance of Experiencing Stories

By: AE Sarver

Last week, I took a trip to Ohio to visit my parents. It’s always nice to go home; a place of nostalgia, memories, and reminders of the stories I love. We got out the old home videos and took a trip back in time to when I was just a little girl.

And there I was: dreaming, dancing, and wanting to be a part of a beautiful story.

I was reminded that as a child, I knew no boundaries, I loved hearing fairy tales, and I loved picturing myself as that princess or as the hero of a dangerous adventure. I look at my life now and realize that many of those stories and dreams are still with me. The ability to dream as a child is extremely important. I believe experiencing stories is imperative.

In an article from Harvard Business Review, the authors discuss a business concept called “the experience economy.” If we look at the world through the lens of a businessperson or an economist, we see that throughout history businesses have gone from being producers of goods and services to producers of experiences. You can read the article to get a deeper understanding, but here’s a quick example they offer:

You could bake a cake for a birthday using a recipe and gather all of the ingredients then bake the cake, or you could “outsource” the entire birthday party and have someone else provide the decorations, the cake, games…an experience. The article continues to describe a market for experiences. “Today the concept of selling experience is spreading beyond theaters and theme parks.” As humans, we have the innate desire to live in community, to experience, to be a part of the story.

We are in a time where even businesses are recognizing the importance of experiences.

This summer, as Acting Out is preparing for another beautiful show, I’ve had the privilege to help plan and prepare for Belle’s Enchanted Tea Party. It’s going to be a magical day for both boys and girls as they play games, have snacks, and interact with some of the characters from this beloved story. It’s an experience they won’t forget.

Not only can your kids attend the tea party, but they also have a chance to be “The Prince or Princess for the Day.” There will be a raffle at the party for one child to get this title for one of the productions of Beauty and the Beast. They will get pampered, escorted to their reserved seats at the show by their very own Lady-in-Waiting (which is me, and I’m beyond excited!), and get announced as the Prince or Princess of the day at the show! Who wouldn’t want to be royalty for a day?

I believe in the power of story and I believe in the necessity of experiencing these stories, especially as children. These events will stay with them for a long time. And isn’t it wonderful to see a young mind at work, dreaming, smiling, joyous and excited for the potential in their future?

I hope you to see you at the Enchanted Tea Party. And I hope it will be an experience you will never forget.

AE Sarver is the Graduate Assistant for the Theatre Department at Olivet Nazarene University. Though she is not in the cast of Beauty and the Beast, she will be the Lady-in-Waiting for the Prince or Princess of the day each night. She’s had the privilege to be in Acting Out’s productions of Sweeney Todd as the Beggar Woman and It’s a Wonderful Life as Rose Bailey. She directed Olivet’s Spring Musical Guys & Dolls and will be directing their fall play Our Town.


Tale as Old as Time

Setting the Stage

By Julie Gindy
Memorial day weekend…remembering our fallen soldiers, picnics, graduation parties and stage building! Each year for the last 7, Acting Out Theatre Co. sets up shop in a new location to create a space for our upcoming show on summer’s 1st official weekend. This year was no different as we set out to Perry Farm Park on the edge of the forest with our 16 ft trusses in “hand”.

Months before, the stage considerations began with breaking down the story into actual places that need to be represented on the stage. Our unique outdoor situation allows us to create a stage specific for each show but perhaps the most difficult challenge is that you cannot take things away. So the total look of the stage is out there all the time for the whole story. Beauty & the Beast takes place in a French provincial village, an enchanted castle, a forest and the inside of a tavern. (Forest…CHECK…thanks mother nature!)

Moving on there are some detail needs like the Beast’s west wing, a fire place, jail and Belle’s cottage to accommodate. Next step, make stage drawing then consult with builder and draftsman to create the actual plan.

Thanks to our fantastic building team, we really made some great progress that 1st weekend!

Some cast members stopped by to take a look!!

Much more to be done but what a magical place to spend a summer!
See you in July…tickets now on sale!

Tale as Old as Time

Is Gaston the Good Guy?

By Tanner Hurt

Gaston: a pompous and dim-witted “ladies man”

Gaston is quite arguably one of the most iconic villains in disney history. His pompous demeanor and arrogant personality sets him apart as the guy everyone loves to hate. Like most disney musicals and movies, much of the audience knows the character’s ins and outs. They know their workings and even know what makes them tick. Gaston is no different.

Back in March when I gratefully and nervously accepted the role to play Gaston, I immediately began thinking, “How am I going to make such an iconic character memorable?” It boiled down to the idea of how can I as a person relate to Gaston? Fortunately, I try avoiding the actual persona of Gaston in my everyday life but I believe some of us may possess a few of his ideological tendencies deep down inside. Now I’m not talking about his idiocracy towards rejections and passion to kill his competition but rather the idea to fight for want he wants as well as enjoying the attention of his peers from time to time. So the questions might come up. Is Gaston really that bad? Could he actually be the good guy?

Now I was getting somewhere when it came to developing Gaston’s character. But, I have an issue. At first, instead of being excited and telling friends and family about my exciting news, I kept quiet and at some points even avoided the topic all together. Very un-Gaston like if you ask me. I actually was even finding myself more conflicted and appalled by his values than wanting to adopt it. Accepting this role now meant I would be stepping out of my comfort zone . . . WAY out of my comfort zone. I’ve been a part of music for awhile but acting and singing alone mildly terrifies me. At this point I am somehow even further away from finding my solace in Gaston.

Rehearsals began and the memorizing commenced but the looming question of how I was going to make this role memorable remained. Music rehearsals took up a good chunk of time in the beginning which meant as we rehearsed the score, it gave me time to be able to play around with his character and develop a loose back story for him. I was able to analyse with how I felt about his pompous and dim-witted ways. I have come to conclusion that Gaston is simply just misunderstood. Now, I’m not saying that this is what makes Gaston the good guy or trying to make you feel bad for him but rather in some way justifying his behavior.

We all have passions and some might be healthier than others (I have a low key passion for really good tasting burgers). However, the true passion that I have is for the sport of track and field and it rivals the related passion of a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. Gaston passion for attention and rather uncomfortable infatuation with Belle is quite honestly no different. The way I give everything I have to the sport I love (I coach track and field and was a former athlete by the way) might, in a weird way, relate to how Gaston swoons over Belle and sometimes even his own reflection.

Pouring everything he has into winning her over. Also, on a much easier connection, we all enjoy attention from our successes and praise for our accomplishment. But from the story we do know, the only true accomplishment Gaston’s has is graduating from eating four dozen to five dozen eggs and now he’s the size of a barge. So I’m starting to see the connection now to Gaston, but I would never have thought I was the bad guy. Maybe I was approaching him all wrong.

Although I don’t normally ingest five dozen eggs every morning, I am starting to get a grip on Gaston’s character. Most of us know the story of Beauty and the Beast (if you don’t, I wont give to away) and we know the dark and almost evil man he turns into. Gaston probably isn’t the good guy but we all have somewhere inside of us that enjoys a good ego rub. I believe that Gaston’s passion for Belle, even though sometimes toeing the line on creeper, relates a lot more to us on the passions that we have then we care to admit.


I’m not yet fully committed to the pompous and dim-witted ladies man that the script describes him as and I don’t see Gaston turning into the good guy any time soon. I am, however, developing a way to relate to his passions and love for attention. I’ll find my sea legs for this character and will definitely be bringing a little of my own je ne sais quoi to this role.


Acting Out Theatre Co.’s Rain Policy

We will make every effort to present the performance.

In the event of rain, please retain your ticket stub. Acting Out Theatre Co. reserves the right to hold the start of a performance for a maximum of 45 minutes. In the event of rain during a performance. AOTC may interrupt the show for a maximum of 30 minutes before cancellation. If a show has played for a total of one hour or to intermission rain checks will not be honored. If a show is cancelled and has not played for a total of one hour or to intermission, your ticket stub will serve as your ticket for a subsequent performance or rain date performance. A performance has not been cancelled until an announcement is made from the stage, and Acting Out Theatre Co Facebook page.

Tale as Old as Time

The Magic of Costumes

Jean Roth, Acting Out Board Member, financial manager and costumer extraordinaire shares some of her behind the scenes photos of the making of Belle’s ball gown.

When asked where she finds inspiration for her creations Jean stated-

“Initially, I derive inspiration for creating costumes from the raw materials. Textiles, colors, textures, ribbons, thread, and even zippers are a few items that spark my creativity. The thought of taking a flat piece of fabric and manipulating it to create a flowing ball gown or period suit is exhilarating.”

“As the process evolves I take motivation from the cast members and the characters they portray. My goal is to help each individual get into character in order to transport the audience to another place and time.”

Magic….aka – hard work!

See you at Perry Farm Park, July 21, 22 & 23!


Tale as Old as Time

Lessons Learned

By Lillian Guenseth

Seven years ago, I was in my first theatre production: Guys & Dolls. It was my senior year of high school and after some coaxing from a couple choir friends, I auditioned. Low and behold, I got the fun role of Miss Adelaide *sneezes*.  Little did I know, this experience would impact where I would spend all my available time for the next 7 years (and counting). Since then, I’ve been a part of 20 educational and community theatre productions, and boy oh boy, am I exhausted/happy/eager for more.

Each production I’ve been a part of, God has always been faithful to make the experience less about me and more about the lesson I can learn from the production. And If I did try to make it about me… Well… There was always a humbling experience to follow, but that’s another story.

A couple lessons that have greatly influenced the way I live my life have actually been within the past couple of years.  Last year, I was in Acting Out’s production of Sweeney Todd.  During the production, my mind would consistently be blown (no, not by the goriness) by how much of myself I saw in the character Sweeney Todd (and maybe a little bit of Beggar Women – the kooky side at least). Of course I don’t have a barber shop where I murder people and send their bodies downstairs to be baked into pies, but I have been blinded by my own distaste of circumstances to where it consumed me for the worst and clouded my vision. Sweeney Todd allowed me to see from an outside perspective how I was acting (on a different scale) and continues to motivate me to correct this in my own life.

Likewise two years ago, I was in Acting Out’s production of CATS and I learned more clearly what joy feels like, the depth of love, and that family doesn’t have to be biological (they can be your cat friends!) when life offers the opposite of pleasantries.

That brings us to this year’s production of Beauty and the Beast, which highlights a topic that we are all pretty familiar with: inner beauty.  In the end, we see that Gaston is the true monster despite his appealing exterior (side note: which is VERY appealing and yet is nothing compared to his kind heart and selflessness, being as it is my boyfriend, Tanner Hurt, who will be playing the role of Gaston – It’s his first show!!), and that the Beast has changed for the better because his heart learned to truly love and exemplify selflessness.  Beast gave Belle her freedom despite him losing the possibility of gaining back his own.

In current times, we are so focused on the external aspects of ourselves, we get swept up and don’t realize that the external things we seek to attain, don’t add value to our life. So rather than making ourselves look good or seeking our own reward, be a friend, say something nice on Facebook, ask how you can help, show kindness to those you fancy and to those you don’t fancy (mind blowing, right?).

I’m sure by the end of this production, I’ll have asked myself numerous of times who I am comparatively to the characters. My hope is that I would be challenged to never be a Gaston, who focuses on the external, but be a changed for the better Beast, who truly exemplifies inner beauty (or being Belle works too!).

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Malcolm S. Forbes and I hope this influences you as much as it continually impacts me (even though I fail time and time again).

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”

Don’t be motivated by the appearance or reward, be motivated by the change of heart through love.

Tale as Old as Time

The Beauty and the Beast of Community Theatre

by Bob Guastalli

My acting hobby started many years ago.  First passively, watching from the audience and then by active participation.  I found my self on stage for the first time quite by accident.  Several weeks before the opening curtain for a play that was being performed by the Drama Department of the college I attended, one of the actors suddenly dropped out.  I recall that one afternoon during English 101 class, I was sitting in the cafeteria when one of my drama friends asked me to just go and read for there Drama class instructor.  He assured me that there were no strings attached. Next thing I know I’ve got the part (which I didn’t want…please if you’re a used car salesman don’t call me). There I am asking myself, how in the H E double L did I get myself into this?

Thoughts of terror filled my head as opening night approached. I imagined myself backstage waiting to go on the anticipation of dread.  Why did I do this to myself?

That first show came and went and with it the infection of wanting to be on stage. It’s kind of like the old potato chip advertisement, once you start you don’t want to stop.  I continued to be terrified as the opening night for each show approached. I recall asking myself “why are you doing this to yourself again!?”  “Why would you subject yourself to this kind of emotional torture?”  But the result of working together with the cast and crew, the satisfaction of pulling together a production and presenting it to an audience was just so much fun, so satisfying.  Learning to overcome fear, anxiety, and self-consciousness was kind of like the Beast, needing learn how to love, how to give himself away.

After college, my time on stage ended.  I began my career, met, and married my wife and began a family.  When our oldest was 7 years old he was invited to try out for a children’s community theater show. He went to the audition,  and landed a part. This started a whole new venture back into theater. One child after the other on stage.  My wife and I loved the theater experiences for them as much, or more than any of the other things that they participated in.  Being around the theatre eventually lead me back to auditions and once again to the stage. I had the pleasure not only of being around friends new and old but also of sharing the stage with 3 of my children.

Then comes Acting Out and the outdoor theatre. What a delight! A whole different take on an old art form. A process requiring a that a production really starts from scratch.  This year’s production of Beauty and the Beast is my 5th production with the company.  I have long ago been relieved of any type of leading role in a show. Did I mention that I played Carry Grant (really Mortimer Brewster) in Arsenic and Old Lace, El Gayo in The Fantastics, or Giles Ralston in Mousetrap? These days I play supporting parts (there are no small parts, only small actors). I have learned to love playing these parts, so my rose petals have stopped falling off of my acting career!  Although I am not an educated actor, I have learned and continue to learn what it means to play the part of the supporting actor.  The small things that one can do to make that character come alive on the stage, and it is so much fun!

Please join me and the cast of Beauty and the Beast as we invite you to Be Our Guest at our production this summer at Perry Farm Park in Bourbonnais!


Belle’s Enchanted Tea Party

July 9, 2017, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm
at the Exploration Station – 1095 Perry St, Bourbonnais, IL 60914

Belle requests the honor of your presence at her Enchanted Tea Party, where the fairy-tale will come to life. Princes and princesses of all ages are welcome.
Be Our Guest as Belle and her friends entertain and take you on an adventure! You will have the chance to create your own invention, listen to Belle’s favorite stories, sing with enchanted characters, explore a castle, play games, win exciting prizes, and indulge in royal hors d’oeurves.
Continue reading “Belle’s Enchanted Tea Party” »

Tale as Old as Time


By Gwen Fox

I absolutely love musicals and musical theatre!  I guess you could say that I was “hooked” from an early age.  When I was a little girl (and we won’t begin to say how many years ago that was!!) I was invited to go with my Grandma to the St. Louis Municipal Opera, to see Robert Goulet in Camelot.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the St. Louis area, the “Muny Opera” is an outdoor amphitheater in St. Louis, Missouri, located in Forest Park.  It seats about 11,000, and has been in existence since 1917.  Their season is only in the summer from June through August, and during those three months, they usually produce seven musicals!!  That fact alone is amazing to me!!  Knowing how much work is involved in planning, set construction, rehearsing, and producing one musical, it’s amazing to me that they do seven in each season!!  All shows are rehearsed within the course of eleven days, with two technical rehearsals (one costumed, one not) being held in the two to three days before the show’s opening.  Shows run from Monday to Sunday, although there have been exceptions to this when each season has had at least one production with an extended run. Needless to say, I was hooked!!  The outdoor environment, the acting, the costumes, a big name star, and the music was just thrilling!  Several years later, we were visiting my aunt in Chicago, and she took me to see a stage production of Hello, Dolly!  starring Carol Channing.. My love for musicals was set!!

In high school, I got the opportunity to play the piano in the band for our productions of Annie Get Your Gun and Oklahoma.

Since coming to the Kankakee area, I have been privileged to play keyboard in KVT’s productions of Pirates of Penzance and Hairspray,

and also in Acting Out Theatre’s productions of Into the Woods, Cats, and Sweeney Todd.

I am one of the rehearsal pianists for this year’s production of Beauty and the Beast, and it is so exciting to actually see the characters come to life, as the rehearsals progress.  They have to spend time learning the songs, of course, but then to see them add the emotion and actually become their individual characters is amazing!!  I once read an article that said that musicals require a certain amount of freedom to imagine worlds which are unlike our own.  They inhabit a world of heightened passion and emotions where people are thrust into song by the events of the play.  The song in a musical is like a close-up in a movie.  When you get a movie close-up, you see small emotional changes in the actor’s face, and these communicate emotion.  On stage, there is no such thing as a close-up.  The audience sees an actor on stage who is hundreds of feet away! So how do you do a close-up?  Well, a song is a fantastic way to do a close-up on stage.  They sing their emotions and you get a close-up view of what the character is feeling through music, which you would be unable to get in the same way as a movie close-up.  And because it’s a musical, you accept that they can sing about their feelings, because that’s what songs are – they are people singing about emotions.  An example of this from Beauty and the Beast, is the song that the Beast sings, entitled If I Can’t Love Her.  He is tortured by the fact that in his current state, he has nothing to offer Belle, and this comes through in the words he sings.  Another example of this is the song A Change In Me, that the character Belle sings.  It portrays the changes that are taking place in her when she realizes that “good can come from bad”.

As I said before, seeing the characters come to life as the rehearsals progress is so exciting!  The cast of Beauty and the Beast are amazing!! Their voices are wonderful and to watch them sing and convey the emotions their characters are feeling has just been magical!  I do hope you get a chance to enter this magical world of Beauty and the Beast, and come to the performances in July.  Let the environment of the outdoor theatre, the characters, the set, and the music create for you a-

Tale as Old as Time

An Honor, and a Privilege!

By Deb Laskey

It’s an honor to be acting as make-up chair for this year’s AOTC summer production of Beauty and the Beast!  And, it will be a privilege to help transform a handsome young man into a ghastly beast.  And there will be many others from the community that will be transformed also; into a Candelabrum, a Mantle Clock, a Teapot, and Teacup, a Wardrobe, a knife, fork, plate, napkin. And there are silly girls, a feather duster, sugar cubes, tea bags, and bottles, and glasses, and even a broom.  The list goes on and on. There will be much work to do, but the end result will be just magical, and it’s an honor, and a privilege to be a part of it all!

I hope you will be our guests as the magical forest at Perry Farm is transformed into the Beast’s castle and Belle’s little village, and a tale as old as time comes to life.

Find out what happens when the last pedal falls on July 21st, 22nd, and 23rd , 2017