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'It's Only a Play' opens Corn Stock winter season

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When you’re going out for an evening and looking for something to do, a play called “It’s Only A Play” may not seem too thrilling.

But before you pass on it, you should know you would be missing out on a lot of laughter.

Corn Stock Theatre opens its Winter Playhouse season with “It’s Only A Play” at the theatre center in Upper Bradley Park. The six-show run opens Friday at 7:30 p.m. and continues Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and next week on Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2:30 p.m.

Director Gary Hale has put together a mix of Corn Stock regulars and community theatre newbies in the comedy by well-known playwright Terrance McNally. “It’s Only A Play,” which debuted in 1982 and has had two revivals since, is a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on when the cast and crew of a Broadway show await the opening night reviews.

Hale, who is directing his first full-length play at Corn Stock, said he agreed to direct this show because of the humor and the characters. “I thought it was a fun show when I read it. I like comedy and I thought this would be a great one to showcase the talent we have here and that it would be a real crowd pleaser,” he said.

“It’s been a great experience. We laugh at something new every night and it seems we discover things in the play we didn’t realize were there before, which is fun and adds nuances,” he added.

The cast includes Corn Stock and local community theatre veterans Nate Downs as James Wicker, Trish Ballard as Julia Budder, Mollie Huisman as Virginia Noyes and Chris Peterlin as Ira Drew. Michael Downey, who portrays Peter Austin, is back at Corn Stock after a hiatus of several years and Zachary Robertson (Frank Finger) and Jordan Zimmerman (Gus P. Head) are making their Corn Stock debuts.

“I am extremely lucky with this cast. They all have great talent. I was very much aware of the talent of the veterans but I had never seen Michael, Zack and Jordan before. I kind of feel I’ve discovered some talent that can do a lot of good theatre here,” Hale said.

 “It’s Only A Play” has no deep messages in it, he added, but he still believes there is something important audiences can take away from it.

“What I think people will get from this show is a real appreciation for creative artists. I mean, thank God they exist. This shows how it really is, how even when they get bad reviews they just get right back out there and do it again for the love of the art,” he said.

“We must value these people for the important role they play in society. Our cast does a great job making the characters real and sympathetic. That isn’t always easy to do.”

Tickets for “It’s Only A Play” are $12 for adults and $8 for students and can be reserved at or by calling (309) 676-2196.

Season tickets for the winter season are on sale, as well. They cost $50.

The rest of the Winter Playhouse season is a mixture of comedy and drama.

  • “Tea and Sympathy,” a drama about a teen-aged students at a private boys school who is trying to find his way while learning what it takes to be a man. Directed by Rebekah Bourland. Production dates Nov. 11-12 and 17-20.
  • An Evening of One Acts, featuring three one-act pieces directed by Doug Day, Celeste Wohl and Cindy DeVore. Production dates are Jan. 13-14 and 19-22, 2017.
  • “Blood, Bloody Andrew Jackson,” a musical that is described as a “rock invocation of the seventh U.S. President set in an alternate universe that draws parallels to today’s political/populist landscape.” Directed by Chip Joyce. Production dates Feb. 10-11 and 16-19, 2017.
  • “A Man For All Seasons,” an historic drama about Sir Thomas More, whose courage and convictions led to his execution during one of the most tumultuous periods in British history. Directed by Tim Wyman. Production dates March 3-4 and 9-12, 2017.
About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).