INA, Ill. (Oct. 10, 2012) – Revisit an American classic, Nov. 8-11, on stage at the Rend Lake College Theatre.
    A delightful production of “Tom Sawyer,” based on the novel by extraordinary author Mark Twain, was selected by RLC Theatre Director Tracey Webb for this year’s fall play. Tickets are on sale now by calling the RLC Box Office at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1467. They are $12 each and the Box Office will accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover. The showings on Nov. 8, 9 and 10 are at 7 p.m., followed by a matinee at 2 p.m. on Nov. 11.
    Follow the adventures of this cherished river-town youth who always seems to find trouble wherever he goes. Tom lives with his Aunt Polly (played by Jessa Poninski of Mt. Vernon), Cousin Sid (Cale Smith of Mt. Vernon) and Cousin Mary (Veronica Justice of Mt. Vernon). An altercation with a new boy in town lands Tom in hot water and Aunt Polly tells him to white-wash the fence as punishment. However, Tom cleverly gets his friends to white-wash the fence for him while he sits back and watches.
    Tom leads the other local boys into mischief until he meets Becky Thatcher, the new girl in town, played by Laura Saxton of West Frankfort. Quickly forgetting Amy Lawrence (Alison Blair of Benton), the current love of his life, Tom sets out to impress Judge Thatcher’s daughter. However, when Becky discovers Tom has been engaged before, she is insulted and furiously rejects him. Tom is crushed.
    “My heart is broken. This is worse than having the warts,” Curtis Galloway (Benton) cries out during a recent rehearsal. Galloway said preparing to play Tom Sawyer has been a lot of fun. One of his favorite lines comes during that famous painting scene at the fence. “You’re about to vex me something certain,” he yells at one of his duped friends, Fen Rogers, played by Tyler Hood (Pinckneyville).

thumb BeckyTommLaura Saxton (West Frankfort) as Becky Thatcher and Curtis Galloway (Benton) as Tom Sawyer. Click on the image for a larger version.
    “I love being on stage and love the reactions I get from the audience,” said Galloway, a freshman whose work prior to enrolling at RLC this fall includes Benton Consolidated High School’s “Guys and Dolls,” and the Pyramid Players’ “The Music Man,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Bye Bye Birdie.”
    In order to cure warts – and to seek adventure – Tom goes with his friend, Huckleberry Finn Troy Stickel of Benton) to a graveyard in the middle of the night. The boys get more adventure than they bargained for when they witness a gruesome murder! Injun Joe stabs Doc Robinson (Jon Booker of Pinckneyville) and casts the blame on the town drunkard, Muff Potter (Mason Kondoudis of Thompsonville). The boys swear themselves to secrecy, fearing the wrath of Injun Joe.      
    John Nalley, of Benton, is playing Injun Joe. He says his character is the one everybody loves to hate. His favorite scene is the murder scene because it is very delicate. One of his favorite lines is “Don’t be out too late. Ghosts haunt these parts at night. You be warned!”
    Joined by another member of their gang – Joe Harper, played by Anthony Pierce of DuQuoin – Tom and Huck set out on their raft down the river. But ultimately, Tom knows he has to go back and face Injun Joe to prove Muff Potter’s innocence. This brave act will either be his redemption or his doom!
    “I like period because, not only is it our job to entertain, but I like to educate,”said Webb. “I hope to have a nice big turnout because this is a well-known American classic.”
    Other cast members include Blythe Brown (Mt. Vernon) as Miss Dobbins; Devin Riley (Dix) as Alfred Temple; Gabriel Habtemariam (Mt. Vernon) as Preacher Charles; Steven Crawford (Benton) as Judge Thatcher; Chuck Lawrence (Benton) as Deacon Brown; Hunter Rechsteiner (Benton) as Peter Brown; Hannah Dawson (Benton) as Molly Brown; Devin Lawrence (Benton) as Tommy Barnes; Aaron Dawson (Benton) as Billy Fisher; John Hunsell (Woodlawn) as Johnny Miller; Ryan Webster (Macedonia) as Jeff Thatcher; Lucas Wells (Mt. Vernon) as Willy Mufferson; Ian Dodd (Mt. Vernon) as Samuel Rice; Christine South (Enfield) as Clara Rice; Emily Schmidt (Pinckneyville) as Imogene Fisher; Sierra Harrell (Opdyke) as Gracie Miller; Marissa Acie (Raleigh, NC) as Sally Rogers; Cassie Vessel (Sesser) as Susy Harper; Krystal Schuh (Newton) as Miss Miller; Danielle Roberts (Mt. Vernon) as Miss Peters; Shannon Twitty (Wayne City) as Mrs. Harper; Emily Legg (Wayne City) as Kitty; Brittany Willett (DuQuoin) as Naomi; and April Pheonix (Opdyke) as Myrtle.
    The shell of Webb’s latest elaborate set is already in place on the stage at RLC. From the beaches in “South Pacific” to the sea liner of “Anything Goes” and the fantastic backdrops in “Flummoxed Fairy Tales;” RLC stage designs are always captivating. Traditionally, they have been created through the combined efforts of the college’s art faculty, cast members, and students in the college’s Theatre Tech classes.
    Whether it’s through theatre tech, stage makeup, or as an actor or member of the crew; being a part of the performing arts at RLC is a wonderful learning experience. Students, as well as members of the community, are always encouraged to audition for a production. The next opportunity to audition is at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, in the theatre. RLC Music Director Sara Alstat will be looking for the cast of the college’s spring musical, “Into the Woods.” For more about this, visit the college’s website at and click on RLC Events.
    Tickets for Tom Sawyer will go fast! The RLC Theatre received a beautiful renovation just a short time ago, thanks in large part to the “Friends of the Theatre” – John D. and Mary Ellen Aiken, Cindy Caldwell, Millie Caldwell, Kyle and Deidre Childers, the late Dr. Evelyn Claxton, Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Dick, Franklin County Arts Association, Doris J. Heaton, Mark and Pat Kern, Cindy Leeck, Henry “Buster” Leeck, Marilyn Scarborough Parks, Neah Rainwater, Dr. Warren and Phyllis Petty, Pyramid Players, Jody Rubenacker and family, Mr. Bob and Dr. Sue Santoro Tomlin, US Bank, Walgreens Distribution Center, James and Lila Waugh, and Tracey Webb. Join RLC’s “Friends of the Theatre” by calling 618-437-5321 or  800-369-5321, Ext. 1214.

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