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                This might be the busiest I have ever been as an adult, so of course I am going to add directing a big musical to my life. When I found out that Decatur Underground Theater was doing SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical for the fall show my mind instantly started thinking of all these fun ideas.  I would then have to stop and remind myself I am working a full time job, getting my Masters Degree AND trying to be a good dad and husband.  Yet, the opportunity to stage such a fun show with antic cartoon energy was something I couldn’t resist.


SpongBob and Squidward in the Pizza Delivery Episode.
The Krusty Krab Pizza is the Pizza For You and Me!

SpongeBob is a show that is close to my heart because of the memories it brings up.  I was a bit too old to have watched it when I was growing up but my older daughter loved the show.  There were many episodes where she would crawl up on my lap and we would watch together, many of the times with me laughing more than her.  My younger child also got into SpongeBob and we would watch the show as a family.  Many times in the class I teach, we would make a music video of a popular song from the show for a project. These characters and world has been a big part of my life for over a decade and I am excited to bring it to life for the area.

                I couldn’t even fathom to do this without the help of so many people involved with Decatur Underground Theater.  Sandy who is my co-director and all around great person, Tim the tech guru, Crystal our printer and merchandise extraordinaire, Donna who will be busy making MANY props, Kimberly with the colorful costumes and the rest of the board including Teri, Mindy and Kimberly B who all do awesome work behind the scenes.

                I can't wait to start working on this musical for Decatur Underground Theater

Spongebob Musical Banner
Best Day Ever!

.  We have auditions this summer, rehearsals this fall and then the show will be onstage this November.  Our goal is to make the most fun experience you can have in Decatur both on stage and in the audience.  Stay tuned for many more blogs this year as I document the show coming together until the curtain opens.

Ryan Rinchiuso is the director of SpongeBob The Musical. He will be updating this blog throughout the show to give a behind-the-scenes look at the experience.

The curtain went down on my last show 15 years ago when I played Rosie Alvarez in a local community theater production of “Bye Bye Birdie” in Tuscola, IL.  Theater always played a very large role in my life.  The phrase, “Oh, I can’t…I have rehearsal.” was spoken almost daily.  After performing in over 60 productions, theater took a backseat as I grew my career and family.

Casey as Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie live on stage
"Hello who is this? Oh it's the stage calling. I will be right there!"

Over the last several years, I had been aching to get back on the stage.  There was a Carnegie Hall-sized hole in my heart that needed to be filled!  It all came full circle last year when I went to see DUT’s production of “Bye Bye Birdie”.  I was blown away by the talent and energy of that show, and flashbacks of Tuscola’s version ran through my head.  The audience could clearly see the joy and excitement on every cast member’s face as the show progressed.  I knew then that I would love to be a part of it.  When I found out that Nunsense was going to be their next show, I was thrilled.  It is a musical that I have always wanted to do.

Decatur Underground Theater's performance of Bye Bye Birdie.  Conrad Birdie singing on stage with ensemble
Decatur Underground Theater's performance of Bye Bye Birdie

Because it had been so long since my last show, the nerves walking into auditions were very high.  I was rusty.  So rusty.  Which direction is downstage again?  The audition room was full of friendly, smiling faces which immediately put me at ease.  From the moment I entered the DUT atmosphere, I have been met with nothing but genuine kindness and support.  It is never easy being the newbie, but this group accepted me as one of their own from the very start.  I cannot say enough nice things about working with DUT.  They have made my transition back into theater feel effortless.

DUT Profile pic of Casey for Nunsense
I am so excited to be on stage again!

I am really proud to be a part of this show that everyone has worked so hard to put together. What a lovely, talented group of humans!  Thank you for making me feel like part of the family. 

Casey is playing Sister Mary Robert Anne in Decatur Underground Theater's performance of Nunsense. See her on stage April 5-7 and April 12-14

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Lily Rinchiuso, actor and social media intern

I had always thought I would be a performer before anything else. Whenever my dad would have the audacity to suggest that maybe I should be a director, producer, or manager instead of an actor, I would smile and nod but then immediately think about the theatre sized hole in my heart if I EVER tried something new.

Local actress holding a camera for Decatur Underground Theatre
Me pretending to be hard at work

But when me and my (not so willing) dad auditioned and got into Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with our local Decatur Underground Theater, both of our lives were changed for the better. During Joseph my dad and I were just the doting actors, though he always commented on wishing he could get a picture of our Joseph behind the curtains when the fog and lights shined on his face just right. I still didn’t get how he could focus on other things when we were living our dreams of being in a musical. Then just one year later my dad and I were in our third DUT musical; Bye Bye Birdie, but this time he was on the board as the Assistant Marketing Director, which almost by relation meant I was also a marketer now. 

Two actors in Decatur Underground Theatre's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Me and my dad after our first show together

One day, early on in the rehearsal process, my dad trusted me with the Decatur Underground TikTok page. The reasoning was half because he trusted me because I was in his Digital Entrepreneurship class, the other half is because he was too old to understand TikTok. 

We watched in amazement as the video hit 1k views in 20 minutes.

So right then and there my dad appointed me with all social media access for the show. Not only was it exhilarating to see a show come to life over the course of  3 months, but it was also rewarding to watch a video hit 25k views or see my advertising campaign come to life with everyone wearing buttons I came up with. This may not seem like a huge deal to some, but as a 17 year old in small town Decatur, IL the opportunities the DUT family have given me can never be overstated.

Actress in Decatur Underground Theatre sings in Bye Bye Birdie
Me singing my heart out during Bye Bye Birdie

For our current musical Nunsense, I took a step off stage and behind my phone and computer instead. I thought it would be a hard pill to swallow, but I have enjoyed writing, shooting,  editing videos and writing social media posts. It has given me a completely new perspective for a form of art that I love. And while I’m adding the finishing touches to Nunsense, my brain has already had a million ideas bouncing around for audition songs and campaigns for the next show. 

I will be excited to hit the stage again, but I am just as excited to see what a freshly turned 18 year old will have learned from a year of experience. Thanks to Decatur Underground Theater, and my dad, I have found a love for musicals both on stage and online.

DUT is Decatur's Premier Musical Theater Company, bringing Awesome Musical Theater to Decatur, IL Since 2010.

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