From the Director’s Chair: Robin Tober-Betourne
In this edition of the Director’s Chair, we are talking with Robin Tober-Betourne, who is directing her 5th production with KVTA. Today we’ll hear about how Robin first got started directing, some of the challenges she’s experienced putting shows together, and about her latest KVTA production, Mamma Mia!
Robin, please tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Manteno but have lived in Bourbonnais for the past 20 years. I was a teacher for 12 years. Currently, I oversee New Hire Education for Support Technicians at Applied Systems. I'm married to Steve Betourne. He's a wonderful support to me and my work with KVTA. He builds sets, works stage crew, and is one of KVTA's all-around fix-it men. My son, Tober Corrigan, has also done a lot with KVTA, from acting to directing and writing the scripts for a couple of our fundraising events. I am very fortunate to share my love of theater with those I love.
What first drew you to directing?
Dance! I had choreographed numerous shows for KVTA when the opportunity came up for KVTA to do Crazy for You, which is a heavy tap show. I love tap dancing and I love Gershwin music, so it was a good time to throw my hat into the director's ring.
As a director, what do you see as the biggest challenge to putting on any production?
Working around scheduling conflicts, keeping the rehearsals moving, and keeping the cast and production staff healthy through the run of a show.
What advice would you give to someone considering getting into directing?
Choose an organized AD and a dedicated staff who are willing to go with your vision, but not afraid to share their own opinions.
What do you think makes for a great audition? or What qualities do you seek in the actors you work with?
Spontaneity and presenting your character in a natural way even if it's not part of your "natural" personality. The audition feels authentic, and I can "see" you onstage in that role.
If you had a dream ensemble and no financial constraints what show would you want to produce and why?
I don't believe I actually have a "dream" show that I want to direct. There are many shows that interest me for different reasons; it could be the choreography, the story line, or well developed characters. What I really enjoy is the creative process and seeing the talents of our community theatre family come to life and put on one fabulous show after another. I would love to get the opportunity to create more original works like An Evening with Scrooge: A Retelling or perhaps creating a Broadway revue for KVTA.
Tell us a little about your current production of Mamma Mia!
I've taken a different approach to the ensemble vocals within the Mamma Mia! script. ABBA music has a unique sound and is known for their harmony. Mamma Mia! definitely has maintained those harmonies, but a majority of it was scripted to be sung through backstage vocals. Through blocking and set design, I have moved many of those vocals to the stage. This gives the scenes a "village" feeling and the audience will be more connected to the songs they already know and love.
What made you want to direct Mamma Mia!?
I haven't directed in awhile, though I have continued to choreograph or fill other staff rolls on shows, and I felt that Mamma Mia! was the type of show I like to direct because I could also choreograph it. It is an upbeat show that is fast moving… and it leaves people singing and dancing!
Has this show presented any particular challenges?
Only having 6 weeks of rehearsals and the loss of a dear family member in mist of them.
Do you have a favorite line, character, or moment from Mamma Mia!?
The scene between Donna and Sophie as they get her ready for the wedding. The song “Slipping Through My Fingers” is beautiful and it hits a cord in so many aspects of my own life. I've added additional choreography that will touch the hearts of the audience.
And finally… Is there anything else you want the public to know about this production of Mamma Mia!?
This cast is fabulous! The Dynamos and the Dads have worked extremely hard, and they have wonderful chemistry. The Islanders make you want to book your next vacation to a Greek island. By the time the audience is on their feet for the bows, they will be Dancing Queens!
Thank you to Robin Tober-Betourne for taking time out of her busy production schedule to talk with us. If you want to see why Mamma Mia! is one of the biggest musical success stories, or hear why ABBA was one of the best-selling bands in the 1970’s, get your tickets now! Performances are at Lincoln Cultural Center on October 5 & 12 at 7:00 p.m. and October 6 & 13 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.KVTA.org or by calling the box office at 815-935-8510.
This production of KVTA's Mamma Mia! is sponsored by The Daily Journal, Riverside Healthcare, Taylor Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, and Taylor Ford of Manteno.