Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: My trip to Robinson, Illinois

Sometimes, actors get to do ridiculous, awesome things. One of the coolest things I do is sing with an Elton John impersonator - "Almost Elton John." In December, the show took me to the Midwest. I'd been away for a few years, and it was nice to see that Southern Illinois is much like I left it.

Fun fact: Robinson, IL is the only place in the country where Heath Bars are made. While we were there, we visited the Heath Museum, which is located right on the town square. It's a small storefront with a host of local artifacts. It's also a fully-functioning soda shop, complete with ice cream and penny candy. You can buy one-pound bags of Heath Bars - fresh from the factory. Not even wrapped yet.

Local Lore:

Next, we took a drive to Palestine, the oldest town in Illinois. It's about 10 miles away from Robinson, and while we drove we passed the "New Cemetery." And yes, there's an Old one, too (it's full - that's why they needed the new one).

I love how the cemetery melts into the factory behind it.
VFW Hall
The sign outside Veterans' Hall

In Palestine, we saw the Fife Opera House - and every little bit of cynicism drained right out of my body. It was amazing - this gorgeous old opera house, olio drops still in place. It's about as beautiful a place as I've ever seen in my life. And in some ways, it looks like a show was right in the midst of production. The front drop is raised halfway, the back room hold curtains and costumes and mannequins, and there are Christmas decorations lying about the room. The original floor has been exposed - the seats and the elevated flooring they sat on we're removed long ago. So now, the angled side-paneling only suggests at an audience.

The costume shop

Water damage betrays the years - it has slowly seeped from the ceiling, and faded whole sections of wall. And the plaster has veins running through it, ribbons of open air where gravity pulls the walls apart. But it's still so nice to look at.

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