There is something uniquely special about community theatre. Not only does it provide a creative outlet for those appearing on stage, it has a way of bringing people together. It helps us reflect on our lives and provides each of us with a gentle reminder of how truly amazing the world can be.
It is through the stories told on stage we discover that in one way or another there is more that brings us together than divides us.
For decades actors and actress have stepped on stage for performances that evoke laughter and tears, and that is why they tell the stories.
It was 10 years ago this summer that Small Town Theatrics began telling stories in musical form from an initial cast and crew of 19 teenagers performing on a small stage in a junior high gymnasium, the community theatre company has expanded providing a musical theater experience for more than 200 cast and crew members of all ages and abilities. These individuals represent more than 16 communities in six counties-Grundy, Will, Livingston, Kankakee, Kendall and Kane.
"Ten years ago I could have never dreamt that we would be producing shows with the amount of talent we've seen over time," said Jack Micetich, who established the company when he was just 18-years-old.
In starting the non-profit community theater his goal was simply to provide individuals, in these small towns, with opportunities to showcase their talents while exposing them to the diversity of the performing arts.
"In the past there have been limited opportunities for people to get involved in musical theatre and participate in something that I believe can be a truly magical experience. My goal and the goal of our board of directors and creative team is to provide cast, crew and audience alike with a big city theatre experience right here at home," Micetich said.
In celebration of Small Town Theatrics 10th season, it took on two productions this summer starting with a semi-staged musical concert of Once On This Island, and its main stage show, Hairspray, opens this week.
The Tony Award winning musical touches on several themes from racial injustice to freedom of expression, individuality, acceptance and love. Hairspray is a high-energy show with 1960s style dance music and rhythm and blues, it's a show the cast says will have audience members dancing in their seats and singing along to the catchy tunes.
Set in Baltimore, the musical tells the story of how Tracy Turnbland's dream of dancing on The Corny Collins Show leads to social change in the early 1960s.
Jana Oates, of Peotone, is making her Small Town Theatrics debut as Tracy and in the role as her best friend, Penny Pingleton, is Grace Preboy, of Minooka. Preboy first joined the theatre company in 2015 playing Jane Banks in Small Town's production of Mary Poppins and she returned to the company last summer for Newsies.
The talented cast includes dozens of area residents including Morris' Alex Duffy in the role of Edna Turnblad and Blake Niewinski as the polished dance show host Corny Collins.
Preston Johnson, of Coal City, takes the stage as Tracy's goofy but loving father, Wilbur and the show's teen heartthrob, Link Larkin is a role played by Coal City resident Riley Nevin.
"Every member of the cast and crew is vital to the success of the production, and we have some amazing talent taking the stage this weekend. Out of more than 100 people who auditioned, these are among the 40 best actors and actresses," Micetich said.
Hairspray will be performed in the Coal City Performing Arts Center, 655 W. Division St., Coal City, with shows at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27 and afternoon shows on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28 beginning at 2 p.m. Advanced reserve seat tickets available at www.smalltowntheatrics.org. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door beginning one hour prior to each performance.
To learn more about Small Town Theatrics and to view sneak peeks of Hairspray check out the company's social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.