What do greasepaint, bats, and seasoned hams have in common? Why, they’re all words included in the title of Ken Bradbury’s new play! Bradbury’s production of “Greasepaint, Bats, and Seasoned Hams: A Celebration of The Jacksonville Theatre Guild,” will be preformed this weekend at Nichols Park’s Pavilion.
The Jacksonville Theatre Guild was formed in 1973 under the original name of Summer Theatre ’76. The organization was created in order to provide a creative outlet for local actors and actresses. In 1979 the group’s name was changed to the Jacksonville Theatre Guild, and has remained so ever since. The Jacksonville Theatre Guild’s earliest productions were staged at Nichols Park’s Pavilion as well as the Veteran’s Kitchen and Dining Room at the Jacksonville Developmental Center (JDC). Shows were then held at the Sophie Leschin Building’s auditorium on the JDC campus from1980 until the closure of the JDC in 2013. Throughout the past 42 years the Jacksonville Theatre Guild has produced over 200 productions.
Bradbury’s newest creation aims to bring attention to the Jacksonville Theatre Guild. “The Jacksonville Theatre Guild is kind of homeless and looking for a home, so I wanted to do something to remind the people of Jacksonville what an asset it has been to the community over the years. We needed a show that would celebrate it,” shared Bradbury.
In order to write a script that would celebrate the spirit of the Jacksonville Theatre Guild, Bradbury conducted over 50 interviews with individuals who are currently or were formally involved with the group. Bradbury then compiled the most humorous of those stories and used them to write the script for “Greasepaint, Bats, and Seasoned Hams.”
The play is broken into several different categories, including things that have gone wrong during a play, scenery mishaps, and ill fitting costumes. One of Bradbury’s favorite parts of the play is a section that focuses on eccentric audience members.
“We used to have a fellow who bought season tickets. He came to every show, and fell asleep at every show. He did this for 20 years. We always knew where he was sitting because he snored,” joked Bradbury.
Bradbury hopes that audience members not only enjoy the play itself, but also the unique and seasoned performers that make up the cast. “One of the really neat pieces of this show is that people will see actors that they haven’t seen on stage for years. Two great examples are Chuck Nash (former Illinois School for the Deaf principal) and Jay Jamison (owner of Jacksonville’s Hole in The Wall),” explained Bradbury. “I think people will really recognize names and maybe even incidences from the past.”
Performances for “Greasepaint, Bats, and Seasoned Hams: A Celebration of the Jacksonville Theatre Guild” will be held September 19th and 20th at 7:30 PM and September 21st at 2 PM. Advanced tickets may be purchased by contacting the Jacksonville Theatre Guild at 217-245-1402.
Bradbury does heed this warning, “We name names. If you were ever a problem while on stage with the Jacksonville Theatre Guild, you best not bring your mother!”