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From the Director's Chair: Paula Sutter

This edition of the Director’s Chair takes a few minutes to talk with, Paula Sutter, who is directing her 27th show with the KVTA’s Young Peoples Theatre production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast JR.

Paula, your name is practically synonymous with KVTA, but for anyone who doesn't already know you, please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Kankakee County and have been married to Mark for 45 years. I have a daughter and son, one daughter-in-law, and two beautiful granddaughters. After working for 32 years for the I-KAN Regional Office of Education, I retired in June of 2020. I am currently the Assistant Director at Kankakee High School for their fall plays and spring musicals.

What first drew you to directing?

I was supposed to be the assistant director for Godspell. When the director got sick and couldn't do it the KVTA board asked me to step in and direct it. I had never directed a musical so I agreed to do it if I could have someone co-direct with me. Luckily, Brian Zecher agreed to work with me. I enjoyed it so much I have continued directing to this day.

As a director, what do you see as the biggest challenge to putting on any production?

There are several. As a mid-sized community theatre we have it better than some others but we still struggle with budget constraints, high cost of royalties, and always wondering if enough people will audition to fill the roles.

What advice would you give to someone considering getting into directing?

Start by being an assistant director or work backstage on a show. This will help you get a feel for the workings of a production and you will see how much time and the commitment it takes. When you direct (or at least for me) it consumes my life for almost a year!

What do you think makes for a great audition? What qualities do you seek in the actors you work with?

A great audition to me is when the person shows up on time, is well prepared, and shows some personality. I not only look for talent but I look for someone with a dedicated commitment level to be at rehearsals and who is willing to work hard to make the show the best it can be.

If you had a dream ensemble and no financial constraints what show would you want to produce and why?

The Christmas Schooner or Come From Away. Both are small shows with less than 20 in the cast but they have to be dynamic singers who can tell a story through a song. Both of these musicals are based on true events in history and they are truly beautiful shows with wonderful music!

Tell us a little about your current production of Beauty and the Beast JR.

Beauty and the Beast JR. has been a pleasure to direct. I cast 48 outstanding youth from the area. They are fun, lively, and so very talented! The staff, crew and kids are working very hard to bring this Disney classic (albeit shorter version) of the show to the KVTA stage.

What made you want to direct Beauty and the Beast JR?

I directed the full version in 2006 and I love the story behind it. I thought it would be fun to direct it again with kids this time.

Has this show presented any particular challenges?

Not really. Although, I had maybe forgotten that putting 48 kids on a stage at one time, with sets and props, can be tricky! I guess that is a challenge!

Do you have a favorite line, character, or moment from this production?

I have a few. I love when the Wardrobe comes out in the battle scene and does her operatic note to LeFou, when the candlesticks and menu escort the tea cups to the stage and any time Belle sings!

Is there anything else you want the public to know about this production of Beauty and the Beast JR?

With everything that we have all had to endure (and still are) during the last 18 months this show will lift everyone's spirits and make them feel good. The kids are so excited to make everyone forget about the craziness we are living through, even if for a brief time. The community should come and enjoy the talent and love of theatre that these young people exude on stage. They won't regret it!

Thank you to Paula Sutter for taking time out of her busy production schedule to talk with us! Get your tickets now and Be Our Guest at KVTA’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast JR!

Performances are at Lincoln Cultural Center on Friday, November 19 7:00 p.m., Saturday, November 20 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and Sunday, Nov 21 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available online at or by calling the box office at 815-935-8510.

KVTA’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast JR. is sponsored by The Daily Journal, Riverside Healthcare, Taylor Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, Taylor Ford of Manteno, and Bourbonnais Township Park District.


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