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

Tale as Old as Time

The Importance of Theatre

By -Miles Kolby Meador

A few weeks back, I had the chance to meet up with an old friend from high school to go out on a Saturday night date. Keeping things classy, we decided to do the ever popular dinner and a movie combo, with a trip to Chili’s and the local AMC theatre set for the agenda. Luckily for us, Beauty and the Beast was still playing, and, as neither one of us had yet to see it, we made it our selection and settled into our luxury recliners to watch the show. The movie itself was excellently done. Disney has really been par for the course with their usual brilliance when putting together their new line of live action movies. Near the end of the movie, Disney really raised the dramatic stakes by elevating the climactic moment when the last rose petal falls. If you know Beauty and the Beast, you know that when this petal falls, hope runs out. The prince will be stuck as a beast forever, and his servants will be permanently turned into antiques. In the movie, this begins to happen, as the viewer sees shots of all the servants turning slowly into lifeless objects. I must admit, I am quite guilty of being someone who likes to talk during movies, very much along the lines of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and during this bleak moment, I jokingly leaned over to my date and said, “And that’s how the movie ends.” Black screen. Cue credits. That’s all she wrote folks.

Of course, we all know in our hearts this would never happen, and the story reflects this, with the movie not ending in this moment, but later this got me thinking about the complexity of the story. Great stories are based on great expectations. We as moviegoers or theatre patrons head into shows already with a set of expectations in our minds as to how our world and things in our life should be. We all know from the moment Belle first meets the Beast that there is hope, the same hope that Lumiere has when he exclaims, “She’s the one! The girl that’s going to break the spell!” I think we as humans collectively believe in some of these universal ideals, like the belief that true love conquers all, or that we all deserve a second chance. That is why seeing stories is so important for us as a culture, it reminds us of who we are and what we are striving for. Sometimes it’s a method of escape. Finding those characters we can identify with can help us to not feel so alone in life.

The term for this ethereal release of emotions is known as catharsis, and great stories provide the greatest release. To develop this buildup of emotion within a story, we must care about the main character. Imagine if Belle was some snobby, self-absorbed girl who believed that she was too good for the small town she was living in, and that’s why she wanted to leave. How many of us would root for a character like that? Instead, we meet a girl who is a bit ahead of her time, living in a small town of people who, although not bad people, have little ideals and small goals in life. To some of us, we connect with Belle’s desires, finding ourselves also wanting to escape a mundane life with little going on. For others, we may laugh at Belle a little, preferring to be in the company of a small town where everyone knows your name. Again, we each go into the show with different expectations, and those expectations are what paints our perception of the plot.

The Beast is another great example. The opening section of the story is so important, because it sets the stage for the transformation of his character throughout the course of the story. Again, we believe in the power of second chances and forgiveness, and that’s why we as an audience need so desperately to see this moment occur. We hear the tortured pain in the Beast’s voice, we see the anger that has been built up inside of him as a result of being so lonely for all these years, we see the frustration he feels as the result of making “one careless wrong decision.” Humans make mistakes, but nobody should ever be forced to be an outcast for the rest of their life as a result. Thus, when the spell finally is broken, we too as an audience rejoice in the wonderful final moments of the film. It’s true that we love our happy endings, but again I think this reflects our expectations of how life should be.

This is the power that lies within storytelling. To me, there has never been any power greater in my life than the ability to move people emotionally through song, dance, and spoken word. It doesn’t matter the venue, good storytellers get people to leave emotionally changed, and this is why acting has always been so important in my life. There are differing levels of love for the art; some enjoy it for the fun of it, for others it’s something that’s cool to do. For me, acting is a craft, one that I have always had the highest intentions of making it my life calling and doing everything in my power to become the best that I can be at it. If you’ve ever seen bad and wooden acting, you know all too well how it can take you out of the moment, which causes you to lose that vested interest of identification. The greatest performances of our lifetime have come because of years of dedication to the art of acting, but it was through that hard work that these great actors and actresses were able to produce something that had the power to change a life. I caught the acting bug at quite a young age, and ever since it has been the driving force behind everything I do in my life. Someday, my hope is that I, too, will be able to deliver performances that give the audience something to move them. For me, acting has never been about fame or fortune, but always about the ability to serve my community through my work, and give them a finished product that can enhance their lives, just as so many other wonderful actors have enhanced my own.

This summer, you will have a great opportunity to experience that firsthand. Acting Out has put on some exceptional shows over the past few years, and this summer’s production of Beauty and the Beast is sure to be another hit. Full of classic songs and colorful characters, the show is sure to impact yet again those life expectations we have all come to know. Whether this could be your first show ever, or the next of many, come check us out this summer and allow the expectations of theatre to provide you with an experience to last a lifetime.


Tale as Old as Time

No Matter What

By John Haley
No Matter What, 
the role of Maurice, in my estimation, has to be one of the best characters I could play.   Not that I look at all like the cartoon character.

The entire show of Beauty and the Beast is not only extremely enjoyable to children, but also to the inner child that resides within all of us.  I believe as an actor it is my goal to be entertaining and to attempt to take the audience to a different time and place from their everyday lives.  This particular show not only will do that but it will take them to a place where love is the key to ultimate success.   Maurice’s love for his daughter is very evident from the very beginning of the show.  My character may be a tad scatterbrained but the love of my daughter is never questioned.

I played this same role in the fall of 2006 for some very large crowds in Kankakee.   This is funny to me as a lot of our younger actors in this current show were young children then.   I am hoping that watching a large performance like this may have put the theater bug into some of their hearts.  Beauty and the Beast is a show that draws large audiences because it is a “feel good” show that appeals to almost everyone.  Not that my particular performance was exceptional but the actors that I worked with were.  The Acting Out performance will have as many, if not more, talented actors while performing on an outdoor stage.   What could be better than this?  Being in an outdoor performance is something that I have not done since performing in Romeo and Juliet at Olivet Nazarene University almost 17 years ago.

I feel blessed that I finally get to be involved in and Acting Out performance.  I have seen most of them from the audience and have always been impressed with the sets, costumes, and abilities of the actors and staff.  My singing abilities are limited but I have always gravitated toward the parts that required a strange character with a comedic flair.  This part is one that is fun for me and hopefully that will be evident in my performance.  In this blog I have not discussed any spoiler moments within the show in case there is anyone reading this that may not have seen the theatrical version of this show.  I doubt there are many that have not seen the story numerous times.   I was amazed last time I performed this role how many kids sitting in the audience were mouthing the words I was saying as they had watched it so many times they knew the lines before the cast performed them.   A very hard show to ad lib and get away with it.  It was also fun to see how many little girls came to the shows dressed like Belle and then getting their picture taken with the cast after each performance.

As stated previously it is my goal to help the cast take the audience to another world where there may be injustice but in the end goodness and love triumph.
Yes this is a ~

Tale as Old as Time

Chance is Chip!

By Elizabeth James

When I was twelve years old, my mother brought me to Chicago to see Beauty and the Beast. It was my first experience with musical theatre. To this day, I remember the way the lobby smelled. I remember the squish of the cushion on the seat. I remember how fast my heart was beating when the music began for the opening number. And most of all, I remember thinking, “THAT…. That is what I want to do with my life.

But life had different plans. My role on stage never happened. And instead, my role as “mom” began. My oldest son has always loved music and had an interest in musical theatre. My middle little… not so much. This past summer I brought him with me to see Beauty and the Beast on stage at BBCHS.

The same show that had such an impact on me ended up having the same impact on him. Although he is but tiny and shy, a fire was lit in him that night.

When the auditions were posted for AOTC Beauty and the Beast, I signed up right away. Chance, on the other hand, wasn’t quite sure. But luckily for us all, he signed up a couple days beforehand and joined me for the auditions. I hadn’t auditioned for anything since Show Choir my sophomore year of high school. So to say I was a little nervous is an understatement. However, with Chance by my side, I was able to direct my focus and energy on him, helping him with his own nerves. Little did he know, he was actually helping me.

When the cast list was posted, I didn’t even look for my name. I was just praying to see his. And there it was! Chance is Chip!! We were both completely elated for him. And then he asked excitedly, “Did you make it, mama?!” With a huge sigh of relief, I found my name listed under ensemble.

We’ve only just begun rehearsals and our adventure has just started, but we are already loving the experience so far.
And we can’t wait for you to join us this summer at Perry Farm to witness the magic for yourself!

Tale as Old as Time

There May Be Something There That Wasn’t There Before.

By Jackie FIscher

Beauty and the Beast tells the story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But if the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his entire household will be doomed forever.

With the big reveal of “Beauty and the Beast” on the big screen last week, it got our creative wheels turning.  There has been no shortage of excitement since casting our summer production!

Everyone seems to be looking to do this “tale as old as time” a little differently.

So let’s bring “Beauty and the Beast” up to a feel real standard.
One of my favorite movie clips!

Join us this summer, as we bring to life everyday household items, a super furious Beast and a everyday Beauty into feel real characters.

“There may be something there that wasn’t there before.”


Tale as Old as Time

True As It Can Be

By Julie Gindy

I love a fairy tale. I grew up reading the classics, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and many more. Nothing says a happy childhood like a cannibalistic witch, coo-ca-ly coo there’s blood on the shoe or a terrifying giant.

Though this story is truly a “Tale as Old as Time”(Some history here) I was not introduced to Beauty and the Beast until the Disney version in 1991, since then I have watched the animated classic on countless occasions. I also enjoyed decorating the set for the musical in 2006 and have seen several stage productions including the one at Walt Disney World.
Last Thursday a group of us from our Beauty and the Beast staff journeyed to New Lenox to see a “First Look” of the new film in IMAX.

It was fantastic, I can’t wait to see it again to absorb more of that Disney magic!
I find it interesting to think about the Disney evolution of Beauty and the Beast – the animated story, musical theatre productions, the shortened theme park version and now a live-action re-telling of the animated classic.
What a perfect time to be putting on this production! We cannot wait to draw the best features from all of the above and bring you this tale as old as time in true Acting Out Theatre Co. fashion.

Yesterday we gathered at the acting out shoppe for a read thru with our newly acquired Beauty and the Beast cast….WOW…one thing that is “True as it can be”…we have a very talented team of actors!!

Stay tuned as all of the pieces to putting on this grand production unfold.