Adrianna Jones: A First Time Guest Director

Adrianna Jones: A First Time Guest Director

RTG Spotlight

“I love theatre,” Adrianna Jones says, simply. “I started out as a performer and earned my degree in musical theatre at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. I went on to find acting jobs all over the place, from cruise ships to Los Angeles, to the Midwest. Eventually I decided to get a Master’s degree.”

Adrianna earned her Master’s of Music degree in Musical Theatre Vocal Pedagogy in 2022 at Carthage College.

“I moved to Kenosha to pursue this degree, and found that I love the Racine/Kenosha area. It’s halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, where there are lots of professional theatre opportunities. I teach acting classes and voice lessons.”

It was at Carthage that Adrianna got to know Kim Instenes and Greg Berg, also on the faculty, and thus met Doug Instenes, as he was putting out a search for guest directors.

“I love the directing world,” Adrianna says. “I have directed A Raisin in the Sun in Kenosha and directed a production of Pipeline with the Black Arts Council of Racine. I’ll be directing shows at Carthage this season too. While I do love musicals, I love putting music into straight plays as well. Since Seasonal Allergies is set at holiday time, we can really play with having background music that backs up the comedy or the emotion.”

While Adrianna had not known Seasonal Allergies before, once she read the script, she knew she would love to direct it.

“It is a show about real people feeling honest emotions as they are going through the holiday and family celebrations and feelings. I call it a family comedy with a lot of heart. It contains a theme of new beginnings, because of the character of Pete going through a divorce and being torn between heartache and trying to move on.”

Adrianna loves the fact that while the show is a comedy, it has doses of heartbreak in the family dynamics.

“Much of the action is comic, but there is also drama in how long it takes for Pete to cope with the collapse of his marriage. I think you really get to know all the characters and really root for them.”

This show has some particular props challenges because it is so centered on food.

“Well, you can’t have Thanksgiving without food being a very big part of this show!” Adrianna says. “And with the hostess being a professional chef, there is a lot of pressure about things being just right. Actors really eat on stage, so we have to get a lot of food details perfectly organized with the props crew. And piles of clothes and dirty laundry are another props challenge, and part of the humor.”

In her experience of working with the Racine Theatre Guild, Adrianna could not be more impressed. “I don’t want to call the actors amateurs,” she says. “Their approach is so professional, so dedicated to creating the best possible product. I know that most of the cast and crew work full-time jobs all day and then come to rehearsals at night, prepared and with lines worked on. I am so excited to be here, working with this caliber of facility, volunteers and staff. Doug is so supportive, yet hands-off, to let me do my own thing. Joycelyn is great, not only in her job, but also as production stage manager for this show.”

One of the fun things that Adrianna found in her casting was the ability to cast a real-life couple as the Shelbys. Samantha and Kevin Sustachek are portraying the husband and wife, and Adrianna is enjoying working on their interpretations of the host couple.

And then there is the challenge of putting a show on a thrust stage.

“Oh, yes. Working on a three-quarter thrust stage is something I’m not used to. I am walking all over the audience seats, looking at sight lines and planning the blocking and placement of furniture and the Christmas tree. Nothing should block the audience view, even those sitting in the side sections. It is a great challenge, and I’m enjoying it. With these phenomenal actors and crew, and this funny script, I am having a wonderful time getting this heartfelt comedy story onto the RTG stage.”