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 February 2019 
"Lost In Yonkers" Cast Announcement

Thank you to all of the talented actors/actresses who auditioned for RVP'S Pulitzer Prize Season Opener by none other than the extraordinary playwright, Neil Simon!

I am so grateful for the cast that I have been blessed with! Ask and you SHALL receive!!! Hand Picked From Heaven! 

Jay: Corbin Shaver of Lostant

Arty: Luke Bowen of Tiskilwa

Eddie: Michael Mendola of Wenona

Bella: Kathy Missel of Streator

Grandma Kurnitz: Elizabeth Wild of Henry

Louie: Brian Shaver of Lostant

Gert: Tania Bowen of Tiskilwa

Thank you to all who auditioned! We hope to see you come out for more shows in the near future. You each have so much talent to offer our community! We really enjoyed you!
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The season will open with Neil Simon’s, Lost in Yonkers, under the direction of Jeni Shaver. This classic, dramatic comedy is the Winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Winner of the 1991 Tony Award, Best Play. Lost in Yonkers is noted as Neil Simon’s best play ever written. The play is set in the year 1942, in Yonkers, New York. As the curtain rises, Eddie is trying to convince his mother, “stern” Grandma Kurnitz, to look after his two boys, Jay and Arty, while he hits the road as a traveling salesman in an attempt to earn enough dough to pay off a hefty debt.  The next ten months prove to be a bit of a whirlwind for the boys, as they learn a little bit about growing up and a lot about the importance of family (no matter how dysfunctional they are) sticking together through difficult times. Lost in Yonkers is noted as Neil Simon’s best play ever written. 

And the Winners are...

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December 2018

A Huge River Valley Player's Thank You goes out to all of our generous supporters! We appreciate each and every person and family who donated all of the lovely raffle items, those who helped make the baskets FUN N FESTIVE, the labor of love stitched into the BEAUTIFUL Christmas quilt, and last, but not least ALL of our FAITHFUL patrons and cast and crew members (and their families) who supported RVP through their purchasing of raffle tickets.


Winners of the Raffles!!!!

Christmas Village: Carol Beltramea


Leg Lamp Basket: Kerri Hicks


Family Movie Night: Nancy Andersen


Red Ryder BB Gun: 

Dawn Eckard


Santa is delivering "Old Blue" to you, Dawn! He packed it up before I could get a picture if it, but here's one with Ralphie and our director, Charlotte Balensiefen! And please forgive me EVERYONE, I really didn't know it wasn't plastic!!! 😂


Baking Basket: 

Sharon Hartenbower



Chinese Dinner and Wine:

Deb Newton


Quilt Raffle: Sue Berberich


Thank you once again to the beautiful ladies M2AJ 😍 who sewed their hearts out making this quilt for our production!


Comment Card Cash Prize:

Sandy Hatzer

A Christmas Story, The Musical 

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Pictured: Adam Oldaker (Old Man); Deann Crook (Mother); Preston Rowe (Ralphie

Parker); and Ben Mechum (Randy)

Join Ralphie and his family, along with the rest of this talented cast and crew,

as they bring the Christmas classic from the screen to the stage. Most of us

couldn’t have possibly escaped our childhood without watching A Christmas Story

the movie at least once in our lives, especially with the 24 hour marathons that

are aired every Christmas Eve. Similar to the 1983 movie, the musical takes

place during the 1940’s, in the fictional town of Holman, Indiana. The audience

is taken along on young Ralphie Parker’s quest for the “Holy Grail of Christmas

gifts,” which is of none other than the “official Red Ryder, carbine action,

200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that

tells time!” Despite being rebuffed consistently throughout his journey, Ralphie

continues to devise a new plan that will bring him and his coveted BB gun

together once and for all this Christmas.

You will be sure to enjoy this versatile score that includes gentle ballads, as

well as several full ensemble show stoppers, such as “Ralphie to the Rescue,” “A

Major Award,” “Sticky Situation,” “Up On Santa’s Lap,” “Somewhere Hovering Over

Indiana,” and the undeniable, “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.” Don’t worry...we

promise all of the classic, iconic scenes haven’t been forsaken. Those dreadful

bullies, Farkus and Dill, are still alive and well. Mother will certainly insist

on Randy getting into his snowsuit and Ralphie donning the infamous bunny suit.

The Old Man is sure to get his leg lamp reward and yes...Flick will stick his

tongue to the flagpole. But wait! That’s not all! There will be many more

reflections to savor and who could possibly forget that fateful night at the

Chinese restaurant?!

“A Christmas Story, The Musical” will take place on November 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 9th,

10th and 11th. Bring the whole family down and ring in the holiday season with


Friday night performances are at 7:30 pm. November 2nd is Family Fun Night.

Concessions will be available for purchase prior to the show and will include

hot dogs, chips, cookies, brownies, popcorn, and beverages. On November 9th,

concessions will include a variety of delectable homemade desserts and beverages

for purchase.

Friday night tickets (show only) are $19.00.

Our dinner theatre options are for Saturday and Sunday performances. A delicious

buffet dinner of ham, turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and

carrots, catered by The Meeting Place, will also include a salad bar, dessert,

coffee, and 3 beverages. Adult tickets for the dinner theatre are $35.00. A

special “Christmas Story” price for children ages 10 and under is $27.00.

Saturday meals are served at 6:30 pm. Sunday meals are served at 12:30 pm. Doors

open 30 minutes prior to all performances.

For tickets visit our website or call (309) 238-7878.

Don’t miss this delightful combination of comedy and heart. One minute you’ll

laugh so hard that you’ll cry and then in another, we promise to take a good tug

at those heartstrings. Come On! “We Triple dog dare you not to smile!!!!”


River Valley Players is happy to announce the cast for A Christmas Story,The Musical! 




THE OLD MAN: Adam Oldaker

MOTHER: Deanne Crook

RALPHIE: Preston Rowe

RANDY: Ben Meachum

MISS SHIELDS: Christine Gaspardo



SANTA: Brenton Waystout

SCHWARTZ: Jack Knisley

FLICK: Bobby Gaspardo

ESTHER JANE: Emma Gaspardo

MARY BETH: Olivia Bergfeld

NANCY: Taylor Frawley

CHIEF ELVES: Brian Shaver & Cyndy Bruch,ELVES: Elizabeth Wild, Derrik Gaspardo, Kayla Eckert,

Chloe Hartwig, Braden Schrock, Hailey Rumbled,

Bella Gaspardo, Anna Rediger,ACROBAT ELVES: Abbie Stanbary & Rachel Eckert



Bella Gaspardo, Anna Rediger


Christopher Yee, Grace Anderson, Mya Shaver,

Kaitlyn Anderson, Madison Stanbary,

Bella Gaspardo, Abbie Stanbary,

Rachel Eckert, Anna Rediger,


Genevieve Phipps, Cyndy Bruch, Kayla Eckert,

Ethan Elliott, Brian Shaver, Dayton Maubach, Ella Bergfeld,

Georgia Sharwarko, Braden Schrock, Elizabeth Wild,

Hailey Rumbold, Chloe Hartwig, Jeff Bergfeld,

Derrik Gaspardo

Performances are November 2, 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11. Tickets for Friday performances are $19 for the show only – Friday night

performances are at 7:30 PM. November 2 is Family Fun night, with concessions available for purchase prior to the show including

hot dogs, chips, cookies, brownies and popcorn and beverages, Friday, November 9, concessions will include a variety of wonderful homemade dessert items. Our delicious dinner/ theatre options are for Saturday and Sunday performances. Tickets are $35.00 and

include a buffet dinner and salad bar catered by the Meeting place, followed by the show. 













May 2018


Congratulations to the Cast & Crew of My Son Pinocchio for a GREAT             show!!!




RVP My Son Pinocchio JR. Cast List

Gepetto: Corbin Shaver

Pinocchio: Taylor Frawley

The Blue Fairy: Madison Stanbary

Rosa: Olivia Bergfeld

Viola: Taylor Compton

Arancia: Emma Kay Gaspardo

Sue: Bella Gaspardo

Stromboli: Preston Rowe

R Marionette: Mikayla Frawley

L Marionette: Rachel Eckert

Signora Lisi, Constratana, Signora Marino: Anna Rediger

Signora Alcomo, Signora Rosati: Lillian Sandberg 

Signora Giovani, Signora Fucito: Kayleigh Lafferty

Signora Mancini, Maria: Georgia Sharwarko

Signora Sommerella, Signora Pronto, Bernardo: Dayton Maubach 

Dante: Rayden Marliere

Agata, Marionette: Brynna Anderson

Francesca: Emily Culp

Fiorello, Boy #1,Brutto: Carter Williams

Adriana, Fox: Kaitlyn Anderson

Luigi (Name will be Luisa): Audrey Chambers

Gina, Fox Mother: Taylor Rowe

Lia: Isabelle Knuckey

Rica, Horse: Grace Anderson

Amelia: Elizabeth Knuckey

Salvatore: Logan Siegmann

Carla: Cora Stetson

Lucia, Girl #1, Sporco: Rylan Davis

Giuseppe: TJ Myers

Boy #2: Christopher Yee

Boy #3: Sayge Compton

Girl #2: Skylnn Frawley

Girl #3: Keira Zack

Professor Buonragazzo: Bobby Gaspardo

Junior: Mackenzie Stanbary

Talia: Trinity Frawley

Pig: Allison Real

Ring Leader: Jack Knisley

Malvolio: Mya Shaver

Marionette: Brooklynn Cotton

Town Children: Cohen Anderson, Brynna Anderson, Kaitlyn Anderson, Abigail Briggs, Audrey Chambers, Leah Chambers, Sayge Compton, Brooklynn Cotton, Ella Culp, Emily Culp, Rylan Davis, Brookelin Eaves, Mikayla Frawley, Skylynn Frawley, Trinity Frawley, Elizabeth Knuckey, Isabelle Knuckey, Abbie Myers, TJ Myers, Allison Real, Jordyn Rowe, Mya Shaver, Rylen Shaver, Logan Siegmann, Mackenzie Stanbary, Cora Stetson, Carter Williams, Keira Zack


Town Parents: Bobby Gaspardo, Jack Knisley, Christopher Yee, Anna Rediger, Georgia Sharwarko, Kayleigh Lafferty, Lillian Sandberg, Dayton Maubach










April 2018
Winners of the Raffle Baskets
Drawn at the final performance of Godspell 

Wine Basket / Jodi Robare
Tickets to Christmas Story/ Sara Roda 
Spring Wreath/ Robert Marcacci 
$25.00 Cash Comment Cards Raffle / Nancy
Thank You to all that supported River Valley Players


Opening weekend for Godspell was a great success! Saturday's performance was awarded with a standing ovation by the audience and Sunday's audience showered the cast with compliments and gratitude for telling such a wonderful story. One audience member thanked us for bringing the story of Godspell back to our community and said they've missed it dearly. If you haven't had a chance to purchase tickets don't worry it's not too late! Come enjoy this fantastic multigenerational cast perform! Just be warned that you may leave smiling and singing.


The cast includes Mark Nowakowski (Jesus) Brian Shaver ( John the Baptist / Judas), Steve Hausler, Corbin Shaver, Amy Lund, Adrienne Van Horn, Ethan Shaver, Lacy Papazis, Karen Leifheit, Jenifer Shaver, Elizabeth Wild, Karisa Hoag, and Charlotte Balensiefen.    


Come out and enjoy one of the following three performances:

Friday evening show without dinner: Tickets for Friday, April 13, are $19.00. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.  A lovely assortment of homemade desserts will be available for purchase.


Saturday and Sunday performances are Dinner Theatre Tickets, $35.00  will include a lavish salad bar, a two meat entree, (carved ham & chicken marsala)  smashed garlic potatoes, green beans, glazed carrots, and dessert.

Saturday evening performance times are:    Doors open at 6:00 p.m .    Dinner 6:30 p.m.   Show immediately following.   

Sunday afternoon performance times are:    Doors open at 12:00 p.m.   Dinner 12:30 p.m. Show immediately following.


Ticket Box office number (309) 238-7878 


All performances are held at St John's XXIII Community Center, 1302 Second Street, Henry, Il 61537 






River Valley Players acting workshop featuring Shannon Hill was everything she promised. Shannon a former artistic director with Festival 56, Princeton Illinois, and brought forth an impressive background of acting and theatre experience to share. 


Saturday, March 17  two - 3-hour workshops were provided
9 am to 12 p.m. Ages 9-12 years old
1 pm to 4 p.m. Ages 13 through adult


Class outline:
Intro to Stage and Theatre Basics, Blocking, Countering, Basic Theatre Terms Acting Basics, Emotion and Physicality, Action/Objective Work Character Voice and Physicality, Open Scenes
Stage Combat Basics (stage falls, shove, slap, punch, hair/ear pulls etc.)



Shannon's experience includes:

B.A in Theatre Performance
M.F. A / Theatre University of Houston  and English Literature /Western Michigan University 
Director of over 20 shows 
Vocal Coach for Classical Theatre, Shakespeare (Houston TX)
Fight Choreographer for a number of productions 
Instructor of Improv, Film Acting
Taughtmanytheatre and acting workshops and classes 
Professional Actress/ Performer

You will not want to miss this opportunity to develop your acting skills with Shannon before she leaves our area to expand her professional acting career.


Shannon worked with our youth and provided them with a great learning experience as well as our young adult, up and coming actors and our seasoned, experienced actors. Everyone learned something new!   


We hope to offer future workshops with Shannon when she is back in the area, an opportunity you won't want to miss!  






Our 2018 Season


 Directed by Mark Nowakowski


Directed by Robert Eckert 

& Christine Gaspardo 


Directed by Charlotte Balensiefen

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