Stage 212 set for outdoor performances of ‘Spoon River Anthology’ in Centennial Park

Performances June 11, 12, 13, 17, with 2 shows June 19

Local fans of theater performances will be treated to a new way to enjoy the production of “Spoon River Anthology” this summer.

Stage 212 will conduct several special outdoor performances of the show scheduled June 11, 12, 13, 17 and 19 with a rain date set June 21. Two performances will be the 19th with a matinee and evening start time. This outdoor event will take place at Centennial Park in Peru.

“Spoon River Anthology” is directed by Zoe Peshel and set in the fictional town of Spoon River. This location is based on the real life home of the author, Edgar Lee Masters, who was from Lewistown, Ill.

The show is formatted as a series of stories told by residents, now deceased, who lived and worked in Spoon River 100 years ago.

“Viewers can expect to see six actors portray roughly 60 different characters and four of these actors intersperse the show with moving, thoughtful and fun songs,” Peshel said. “Each actor will have the same costume but will use different props to denote different characters. This might be confusing at first but hopefully it will be understandable once we get going.”

The setting of the show is similar to the Illinois Valley, placed in a rural community with many different types of people who participate in many varying areas of life, work and fun.

The characters in the show are farmers, business people, families, children, mothers and all have a view on life that coincides with the overall message of the show.

“Don’t waste time while you’re alive not being grateful for all you have and the ups and downs,” Peshel said. “In the end it doesn’t matter how wealthy you were, how clean your house was or who you knew. It matters how you treated people, how you loved and how you showed those around you these things.”

Peshel has been involved with Stage 212 since November of 2009 when she was cast in the show “A Talent for Murder.” Peshel said since then, Stage 212 has become a second home and she has since acted in, produced or directed about 15 shows.

Peshel also met her husband at Stage 212 and was married on the stage in 2015. While she is experienced with the organization, an outdoor performance is something she has yet to experience.

Stage 212 has never performed an outdoor play and during the planning stages of the upcoming performance they have had to prepare for new challenges.

“Figuring out how we will provide electricity for the sound equipment and what do we do about the current social distancing guidelines amid a pandemic, and what do we do if it rains has been challenging,” Peshel said. “So far we’ve worked most of that out and are hoping that Mother Nature cooperates because it will be a great show.”

Even with the new challenges and the unique show Stage 212 has planned, they are excited to provide this opportunity for the public to enjoy live theater.

The pandemic has largely brought the live theater industry to a halt as actors, directors and producers are all ready to get back to doing what they enjoy and sharing it with their community.

“People should come out and enjoy the show to celebrate the return of live theatre to our community,” Peshel said. “It may look different and not be on the stage but theatre is everywhere and we can do it anywhere.”

Jayce Eustice

Covering local government, breaking news and whatever is thrown at me for the La Salle News Tribune