Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Michaela Rutledge
Although most professional theatres take over two months to finalize their shows, The Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan, Ill. only has 10 days.
The Little Theatre puts on five consecutive shows during the summer months, and while rehearsing, some actors are also performing in other plays and helping with children’s shows that the theatre sponsors.
Before starting rehearsals, the actors are expected to have their lines and music memorized so that the rehearsal process can focus mainly on choreography and blocking.
Actors in The Little Theatre’s most recent show, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” had just 38 hours to perfect their performances, said John Stevens, executive producer at the Little Theatre.
The play focuses on Pseudolus, a slave, who tries to gain his freedom from his master, Hero, by helping him win the affections of a neighbor girl.
Stevens described the musical as a “bawdy romp through Roman times.”
The play takes place June 19-30 at the Little Theatre.
Regardless of the limited amount of time dedicated to preparation for the shows, the staff at The Little Theatre is very pleased with the audiences’ reactions.
“My favorite part of the business is sitting in the back of an opening night performance and escorting people out at the end, hearing them talk about the show,” Stevens said.
The theatre produces five professional musicals each summer for an audience of more than 15,000 every summer.
The Little Theatre opened in 1957, as a live venue, by Guy S. Little Jr. In 1981, the theatre became a non-for-profit corporation.
The theatre’s audience comes from within a 90-mile radius of Sullivan, Little Theatre’s hometown, and the theatre has about 2,500 season ticket holders.
Steven’s is proud to boast that some of their season ticket holders have been coming to shows at the Little Theatre for over 50 years, and many of them have never missed a show.