May 12, 2015

McLeod Summer Playhouse lineup announced

by Vincent Rhomberg

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Curtain up! Light the lights! But bring your sunglasses. The McLeod Summer Playhouse 2015 season is ablaze with some of the region’s most talented artists. This professional summer theater, with its home on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus, has long been a platform for the area’s shining stars. 

The Playhouse opens June 6 with the professional Theater for Young Audience production of “James and the Giant Peach” in the C.H. Moe Theater. 

Performances hit the boards of the McLeod Theater with “Big River,” the musical adventures of Huckleberry Finn, playing June 19 – 28, “Hairspray,” July 10-19, and the “Legally Blonde, the Musical,” the McLeod Summer Playhouse/Carbondale Community Arts’ All Southern High School production. Tickets are already on sale, and are available in person at the McLeod and SIU Arena box offices, Monday-Friday noon to 5 p.m., by phone at 618/453-6000 or online at 

The McLeod Summer Playhouse (MSP) is the professional arm of the SIU Department of Theater, and as such, beckons professional actors and crew members to its ranks. Some of that talent is local, and this year is no exception. In addition to local luminaries, the best of the region’s newest talent will participate in the last play of the summer season, traditionally the All Southern High School Theatre Project, an opportunity for area high school students to work with professional staff, jointly produced with Carbondale Community Arts. 

This summer, the company features the following, who are known in the area to regular theater-goers:

Derek Hamblin, Carbondale, known for this work with the Marion Civic Center, John A. Logan College and his own producing company, Dance4 Grandma. Hamblin, an SIU alumnus, brings multiple talents: he sings, dances, acts, plays piano, directs, produces and teaches. When he’s not on or behind stage, he works with the SIU School of Music’s community outreach program, and as musical director for First Christian Church in Carbondale.

Olivia Gordon is well known in Anna, where she starred as Elle Woods in the Anna-Jonesboro High School production of “Legally Blonde.” MSP audiences will remember her snazzy performance as Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt in last year’s MSP/CCA All Southern High School Theater Project’s production of “Anything Goes.”

Diane Taveau, Herrin, is in the frontline of the area theater scene. MSP audiences may remember her as Mrs. Hannigan in the 2013 production of “Annie.” A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Taveau has directing and producing experience with Skyline Creek Productions, and has appeared at a number of theater venues in the region, including a recent appearance at John A. Logan College.

Bailee Endebrock, Carterville, is another recognizable talent locally. She will star as Elle Woods in this season’s production of “Legally Blonde, the Musical.” She has previous experience with the MSP/CCA All Southern High School Theater Project, having participated in the production of “Anything Goes.” She’s also been part of the Cre8tive Academy’s “Peter Pan,” and Skyline Creek’s “Chicago.”

Other MSP/CCA All Southern High School Theater Project alumni returning this season are: Jack Russell Rose, Carbondale; Mike Terrana, Carterville; Hayden Schubert, Du Quoin; and Jordan Ray, Johnston City.