I spent a three-show summer contract with McLeod Summer Playhouse, and I couldn't have been more thrilled with my decision! PRODUCTION/REHEARSALS: Because you're on the campus of Southern Illinois University, the rehearsal space and performance space are all fantastic. You rehearse in the music hall where the students typically take music classes, and you perform in either a large auditorium for the mainstage shows or a smaller blackbox space for the Theater for Young Audiences show. Everything is close and easy to walk to. The only downside is that you only get to perform for a total of two weekends on the mainstage of each production. But the rehearsal process is considerably breezy with enough time to stage and rehearse everything. It wasn't a "rushed" summer-stock process like some other companies. HOUSING: It may change year to year, but when I was there, there were two options for housing. Some actors were housed in a converted dorm building that now has studio apartments. The building was right across from campus, so both the theater and the rehearsal hall were within walking distance and you can take advantage of that as much as possible. The majority of the other actors were all in two bedroom apartments with large living areas and kitchens just a little further off-campus. Three actors would share the two bedroom apartments (two actors in one room, one actor in the master with its own bathroom). All of the housing was great and conveniently located. Carbondale, IL is a small town but also a college town - so you have access to great local eateries and the regular late night college fare. PEOPLE: There aren't enough nice things I could say about Tom Kidd and Wes Drummond! I would work with them again in a heartbeat. They're both smart artists who know how to make a show work. And it helps that they're kind people who are always open to new ideas. The casts are made up of professional actors or pre-professional actors about to graduate from BFA programs across the country (mostly gathered from SETC auditions), as well as some local actors, and then a group of SIU "Interns" who fill out the ensemble. I will say the casting tends to be a bit younger, especially with the group of Interns from the SIU BFA program... but, that doesn't mean it isn't high-quality talent. CARBONDALE AREA: Like I said, it's a small college town. But - St. Louis is two hours away and a good getaway for a day trip. There are gorgeous woods and forests to explore nearby, a fun "spillway" near the lake, and don't miss the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail! You can do wine tastings and experience something new. OVERALL: If you get an offer from McLeod, don't hesitate! Take it! And please eat at Longbranch Cafe & Bakery as MUCH as you can. YUM!
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