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  • Writer's pictureAlegra Batara

Festival 56, Summer 2021

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

Godspell, directed by Lauren Haughton-Gilles; From left to right: Isaiah Hein, Alegra Batara (me), Dexter Conlin, Maya Voorhoost, Stephan JoQuan Wilson, Cheyenne Marie, Rose Blume, Nathan Gallop

I had the utmost pleasure of spending my summer in the lovely town of Princeton, IL with Festival 56, my first summerstock job! For nearly two months, I was living and working with this amazing group of artists in a 6 person adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and an absurdly fun production of Godspell.

Romeo and Juliet directed by Bill Kincaid. From left to right: Nathan Gallop, Rose Blume, Alegra Batara (me), and Dexter Conlin

The Romeo and Juliet rehearsal process lasted about 3 weeks including tech and we spent ample time exploring these timeless characters and story to make it our own and bring it into

Me as Mercutio in the middle of the Queen Mab speech of Act 1.

our time. Bill Kincaid, director, created a fantastic space that allowed us to play with abandon and find our way through the script without feeling tethered to anything too quickly. Because of this, even in the final week of shows, we were still finding joy and new choices within the sandbox of the world.

I had the honor of playing one of my dream roles, Mercutio, as part of my track. Getting to play endlessly with the Queen Mab speech that I love with my whole heart, the stage combat element (provided by the amazing DC Wright) was terribly exciting and fascinating.

In addition to Mercutio, I covered Lady Capulet, Balthazar, and the Watch, all of which I had the most fun creating. My cast mates (Rose Blume, Dexter Conlin, Nathan Gallop, Isaiah Hein, and Isaiah Johnson) are some of the most creative, lovely people I've ever had the pleasure of working with and made the whole experience so enjoyable. ​ Godspell was the first in-person musical I'd been able to perform in since high school so my heart was all a-flutter. Lauren Haughton-Gilles was our fearless director for this production and she gave us so much agency to create our own representations of the parables that fit who we are as artists. I ended up getting to play my beloved ukulele and sprinkle some vaudeville-esque comedy into Turn Back O Man. It was a blast to really create the show with this phenomenal group.

Me and Dexter Conlin in Godspell during the Last Supper.

A very personal touch I got to add to a moment was during the Last Supper. Each of us in the ensemble had a moment to say goodbye to Jesus that we created together. I chose to bring my personal culture with mano or pagmamano, a traditional Filipino gesture where one lifts the hands of an elder and touches them to your forehead as a sign of respect.

This summer revitalized my love of both classical theatre and musical theatre, as well as my commitment to community building within the theatre industry. Thank you to Festival 56 for creating a space where I as a queer actor of color felt comfortable to bring forth conversations about gender and race freely and have honest, productive conversations.

Production Team

Artistic Director: Tommy Iafrate

Romeo and Juliet Director: Bill Kincaid

Romeo and Juliet AD: Frank Monier

Godspell Director: Lauren Haughton-Gilles

Music Director: Chris Pinder

SMs: Gracie Carleton, Meghan Boucher

Fight Choreographer: DC Wright

Lighting Design: Dale Pickard

Costume Design: Bradley Jensen

Set Design: Christopher Gadomski

Sound Design: Colten Langfitt

Props: Emma Marino

Dressers and Crew: Krysten, Mary, Faith, Jacklynn

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