By Katie Linder '17
Recent Illinois College graduate Katherine VonDeBur of Sherman and rising junior Matthew Woodson of Springfield appeared in the production, “All Shook Up: A New Musical Comedy,” in July at the Springfield Muni.
VonDeBur, a 2014 graduate with an English degree, and Woodson, a music education major, both played chorus members, roles which involved an extensive amount of singing and dancing.
“I feel like every show I’m a part of changes me in some way,” VonDeBur says. “Muni has become a mainstay of my summers, and I can’t imagine what I would do if I weren’t singing and dancing like crazy every night.”
Neither VonDeBur nor Woodson are new to acting or singing. Both have had multiple opportunities to improve as actors and singers, both inside and outside of Illinois College. Woodson appeared in his first production, playing the role of Dean Hyde in “All Shook Up,” in Spring 2010 as a sophomore at Springfield High School. He continued to act throughout high school and eventually appeared onstage at Illinois College as Demetrius in the Fall 2012 production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
VonDeBur’s acting experience dates as far back as Woodson’s. She first appeared onstage in another Muni production, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” in the Summer of 2010 and later appeared in “Medea” at Illinois College the following fall. Together, VonDeBur and Woodson have appeared in a total of 16 productions at five different venues.
Both VonDeBur and Woodson cite Illinois College’s music and theatre programs as being essential to their success as performers. As members of Illinois College’s concert choir and theatre minors both appearing in multiple productions on campus, VonDeBur and Woodson have grown as performers with the help of their professors and those around them.
As VonDeBur notes, some of the techniques that Dr. Abby Musgrove uses in concert choir helped her prepare for her role in “All Shook Up” this summer. “Singing in a large choir means learning to hold strong to your own vocal part while the people around you may be singing something different,” VonDeBur says. “In one scene of ‘All Shook Up,’ I’m facing my dance partner and the notes, words and rhythms of his vocal part are completely different than mine. I have to be able to listen to him and others around me to stay balanced with the group while still singing my own vocals. It’s a challenge I don’t think I could face without the years of practice I got in choir.”
Woodson says that Dr. Nancy Taylor Porter’s help during Illinois College productions, particularly with character development, helped him with the roles that he played this summer. “This summer I thought like Dr. Taylor Porter and created who I thought my character was.” With Dr. Taylor Porter’s help during the school year, Woodson was able to appear this summer not only as a chorus member in “All Shook Up,” but also as Ren McCormack, one of the leads in “Footloose,” a Theatre in the Park production that premiered in June.
Incoming Illinois College students, and even those already on campus, could find that becoming involved music and theatre is one of the best ways to meet new people, both on campus and in the community. Woodson points out, “You don’t have to have a degree in music or theatre to be involved in those areas.”
English professor Dr. Cynthia Cochran was in the audience for the second week’s performances. “It was a fun musical and great entertainment for only $10. They seemed happy to see IC people in the audience.”
“All Shook Up” premiered at the Muni on July 11 and concluded on July 26. It was directed by Anna Bussing, a first-time Muni director.
About Katie Linder: Katie is a rising sophomore at Illinois College. She is majoring in English with a minor in Spanish. Katie works at the Campus Writing Center, the Office of Marketing and Communication, and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.