Friday, July 29, 2011

A Peek Backstage at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival

I'm not sure if the idea of backstage (and other) tours is new to the Illinois Shakespeare Festival this year, but it's new to me, at any rate. They currently offer backstage, scenic design and costume tours on selected evenings, all about an hour and a half before the show itself. The cost is $10, these tours are conducted by members of the acting company, and the backstage tour gives you a chance to see the green room, dressing rooms, and even the stage from the actors' vantage point.

Last night I took my first-ever backstage tour, along with my aunt, my cousin and my husband. It was very warm, so maybe that's why it wasn't quite as long as billed. (The info says 50 minutes and it was really only about 30.) But it was fun to find out how Ewing Manor came to be and get a look at the back side of the lovely theater where I've seen so many shows. Our tour guides, actresses Jessie Dean and Melisa Pereyra, were entertaining and illuminating. One caveat: There are stairs involved. My aunt wasn't game for the steps, but she enjoyed getting to sit out the costume part and watching Illinois Shakesfest action happen around her, nonetheless.

We also got a glimpse of Romeo and Juliet (Dylan Paul and Laura Rook) warming up and Sampson/Old Capulet (Nile Hawver) carrying his clothes. What fun!

So, all in all, I would definitely say I am a fan of this inside scoop stuff, and now I'm anxious to try out the other tours. Ten bucks worth? You bet.

A view of the lawn at Ewing Manor.

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