Sister Act ~ From the Director's Chair
From the Director’s Chair: Rhonda Stenzinger
In this edition of the Director’s Chair, we are talking with Rhonda Stenzinger, who is directing her 5th production with KVTA. Today we’ll hear about how Rhonda first got started directing, some of the challenges she’s experienced putting shows together, and about her latest KVTA production, Sister Act.
Rhonda, please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Kankakee, and I have lived in Bradley and Bourbonnais most of my life. I’ve been the wife of Richard for 37 years, the mother of Casey, Caleb, Santiago, Timeo, and Dylan, and the Mimi of Mallory, Zack, and a foster child.
What first drew you to directing?
Church is where I became a director. River Valley Christian Fellowship has always thrived in the Arts. As a child, I was in every Christmas production. As a teen, I was in teen musicals, and as an adult, we’ve had "Broadway Style" Christmas musicals. I started directing the teen musicals and then moved on to the Christmas productions. In the early 90's, my son and I auditioned for KVTA's Music Man. We both fell in love with KVTA. It was there that I watched and learned from a different avenue.
As a director, what do you see as the biggest challenge to putting on any production?
Every show has different challenges, however, getting the cast that is envisioned in your head is a huge obstacle.
What advice would you give to someone considering getting into directing?
Watch and learn from others whom you admire. I always say, "I'm an apprentice as a director." I did not go to college for this hobby, which has become a passion. I've been taught by being in shows and observing. It's also important to pay attention to the details.
What do you think makes for a great audition? Or, what qualities do you seek in the actors you work with?
When your voice is shaking like a maraca from your nerves, show me your character that you've prepared for through your facial expressions and body language. Regarding qualities, recitation and dedication to learning your lines, choreography, and staging are all key elements. I LOVE when I see cast members practicing on the side or before rehearsals and performances.
If you had a dream ensemble and no financial constraints what show would you want to produce and why?
That dream was fulfilled in directing KVTA’s production of Les Miserables with my son, Caleb. We had an amazing staff and cast! We also received local community sponsorships to build a revolving stage like the Queens Theatre in London. I lived the dream.
Tell us a little about your current production of Sister Act.
Sister Act is set in 1977-1978. The storyline is a lot like the movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, which was a blast to watch in the 90s. A disco club singer sees her boyfriend murder someone. She goes to the police and is hidden as a "nun" in a convent. It's full of dancing, disco music, gospel music, humor… and some violence from the thugs. It is a PG musical, but will leave you dancing in the aisles.
What made you want to direct Sister Act?
I graduated in 1979. I love disco dancing and the message to "love your neighbor" no matter what race or differences we have.
Has this show presented any particular challenges?
Men. We did not have a lot of men audition. We ended up double casting and asking some additional men to audition. We now have a great cast!
Do you have a favorite line, character, or moment from Sister Act?
Deloris Van Cartier comes to the realization that she needs her "sisters". "Yes, I love that spotlight! Yes, I crave acclaim… But what are you left with when the lights go out? I'll have my sisters with me still."
And finally… Is there anything else you want the public to know about this production of Sister Act?
Going to KVTA's Sister Act shows your support of the arts and community in Kankakee County. Your friends, relatives, and neighbors put in months of singing, acting, sewing, building sets, painting, researching, playing instruments, and choreography to put on a great production for our community. We are always amazed with the talent in this town!
Thank you to Rhonda Stenzinger for taking time out of her busy production schedule to talk with us. If you and your family are interested in seeing a feel-good musical comedy smash based on the hit 1992 film of the same name, performances for Sister Act are Saturday, May 4 at 7:00 PM and Sunday, May 5 at 2:00 PM at Lincoln Cultural Center. Tickets can be purchased online at www.kvta.org or at the door one hour before each performance.