Heartland Highways Program 813


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Transcript:
Heartland Highways is made possible in part by Consolidated Communications, offering customers
high speed internet, phone service and digital TV service packages that include high definition
channels, DVR and hundreds of sports, movies and music channels. More information on these
services available at consolidated dot com. Just ahead on this weekís Heartland Highway
weíll close out the season with a visit to Myers Dinner Theatre in Hillsboro Indiana.
Then weíll meet the people behind the Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State and even take
swing on the trapeze. Finally weíll meet the Central Illinois English Country Dancers.
Those stories are coming up next, so donít go away.
[music] Hello and thanks for joining us for Heartland
Highways. Today weíre back in the Doudna Fine Arts Center at the main stage theatre,
which is home to Easternís Department of Theatre Arts. Todayís show is all about the
performing arts, including theatre, dance and the circus. First weíre headed to Hillsboro
Indiana for dinner and a show at Myers Dinner Theatre. This unique venue, run mainly by
Richard and Donna Myers has a motto of ìcome as a guest, leave as familyî.
>>Narrator Located at the crossroads of U.S. 136 and highway 341 is Hillsboro, Indiana.
Some people may know this town as the home of 600 happy people and a few old soreheads.
Well youíre about to meet, not the old soreheads, but 2 of those very happy people, Richard
and Donna Myers. Now when most people near their retirement years, they think about slowing
down, but not the Myers. Instead, they decided to get into the theatre business. After running
two other performance theatres, they moved their operation to Richardís hometown of
Hillsboro. Weíve never been sorry that we planned it
here. The people and the community are wonderful. And it was like so many rural towns there
was lots of empty buildings, now there isnít any empty buildings.
>>Narrator Thatís because Richard and Donna purchased and refurbished 8 of them, including
two bed and breakfasts. In 2002, they had just 3 months to transform a block of century
old buildings into a full service dinner theatre. Together the Myers run the business, doing
everything from costumes, food preparation and set design.
Course then they come out with the prop lists and we run around trying to find props and
stuff and if we donít have it we will have to make it or something anyway. And then course
we do the food, which you know we do all the cooking. So, you know thatís mainly my job
right now is working on the set and helping in the kitchen.
Heís the glue that keeps Myers Dinner Theatre together, because if it wasnít for what he
does here and his talent it just wouldnít take place.
>>Narrator Donnaís past experience as a hairdresser, decorator and bridal shop owner have come
in quite handy in the theatre business. And I do all the costumes. Um and I love that.
See thatís where having the bridal store and knowing fabrics and things and I love
that design and itís a part of that decorating design comes in. And then doing the hair styles
on doing those wigs being a hair dresser has been very vital for this business too.
>>Narrator The theatreís central location has made it a popular stop for bus tours.
Guests from all over the world have made their way to Myers. Throughout the year, the stage
features well known Broadway hits, musical reviews and gospel music. On this November
afternoon, we were invited to the opening of ìA Dickensís of a Christmasî. Based
on ìA Christmas Carolî this production is an original work, written just for Myers Dinner
Theatre. As guests enter the theatre, each one is greeted by a hug from Donna.
And when theyíre waiting to be seated they can shop in the store and they like the old
piano being played out in the lobby. And some days theyíll sing and they get to dancing
and itís just a hoot you know they have so much fun.
>>Narrator Prior to the show, dinner is served, just one of the many things that Myers has
become famous for.
Um some of the younger people think what we are fixing is gourmet cooking. Well, to us
itís just what we were raised on. You know itís not that at all. Itís just down home.
Some things we cannot change like the broccoli salad or the salad dressing that Iíve created
and Richards rolls Richards buns um and the Swiss steak. Those things pretty much they
have to stay on, but we will change the menu a little bit to go for either for the holiday
season or for the show. We like that part of it because it makes it very relaxed and
people just sort of settle in and we prepare our food like were preparing for family to
come over. >>Narrator Now food isnít the only Myers
claim to fame. Interestingly enough, their bathrooms are quite the hit.
She likes to decorate. So, when the architect was course by being the state inspector he
had to draw up all the old buildings to and Randy had a men and womenís bath room. I
told Randy I said this is not going to work. And he said why and I said well thereís all
these women getting off the bus anyway. But anyways and I said my wife likes to decorate
bathrooms and so thatís how it is so. Itís fun. It but it was again for our own
enjoyment. Who would have ever guessed it would have been such a hit.
>>Narrator After a delicious home cooked meal, its show time.
[performance clip] Actors are both local and regional players
who try out at the beginning of the season. And our stage is not very large, but we make
it work and really people have really enjoyed that. Not such large casts that they donít
you know connect. You notice you think we work too, the cast
members work too, because sometimes they say well whoís the dresser, whoís the prop and
we say you are [Laughing]. >>Narrator In addition to being stagehands,
the actors often times will play multiple roles, sometimes as many as 5 or 6.
What totally amazes me though is Michael and Liana. This is their fifth Christmas show.
They have performed in every show for the last five years and they change their accents
or their whole personality for that role. And I just think theyíre wonderful. They
do such a marvelous job, but we do find wonderful talent like that.
>>Narrator Shows are chosen 2 years in advance, with an emphasis on family friendly themes.
Throughout the year, there is very little time to rest, because as one show is ending,
preparations are underway for the next. When asked about their favorite part, Richard and
Donna both agree, itís the people and their desire to make them feel right at home.
I spent a lot of time talking with this the two couples that were at table five. And he
said now I hope I say this right to you, but he said the minute I opened that front door
I knew I was going to be in love with this place. And I said really know why is that,
because we here that so many times and he said it just feels different in here. Itís
very comfortable and laid back and that always makes me want to cry, because you know weíre
busy running around and we miss that and Iím so glad that guests feel that.
Next weíll travel to Urbana, Illinois, where the admission is free and the activity is
ìso easyî they say anyone can do it. The Central Illinois English Country Dancers perform
dances that were popular in England and America in the 16, 17 and 1800s.
[Music] speaker calling dance moves >>Narrator Did you get all of that? Thatís
ok, me neither! The Central Illinois English Country Dancers would be happy to walk us
through it again. Thatís their policy. All are welcome and no experience is required!
But before we try floating across the dance floor again, letís find out more about what
English Country Dance is! English Country Dancing is the dancing that
was popular in England and Europe and the colonies from well the official time period
is from about 1650 through the early 1800s say the 1820s. Um it probably predated that
and some of the same kinds of dances were still being done after that. But, thatís
really the time period the 1600s, 1700s. Most of it is just a smooth walking step. You know,
itís just smooth walking in time to music. Uh there is occasionally in some dances you
might do some skipping or uh a couple other uh steps like that. Um thereís a few things
like setting and turning single and things like that that um itís hard to just describe
what they are, but itís basically youíre sort of hopping from foot to foot. But, most
of the time itís just smooth walking steps in time to the music.
>>Narrator So why do people do it today? There are many reasons, but itís mainly because
itís a fun and an easy style of dance anyone can do!
Well I think one of the things thatís uh nice about it is the music. Itís sort of
classical music and the dancing even though you have a partner and youíre dancing with
your partner youíre none the less dancing with everybody you know as a group. So, itís
sort of a group activity. Itís very social. Um and I think dancing has become more popular
lately. Um thereís a lot of different kinds that people are involved in. Uh this is fairly
easy. It doesnít require a lot of footwork. It can be good exercise, but itís not super
strenuous. Um itís a good way to get out and meet people do some things with other
people. And uh weíve had a lot of families coming uh lately uh the last several years.
I think itís because they think itís a good activity for you know the kids to get into
and uh um a fun way to meet other people and be involved.
>>Narrator One such family is the Hanson family. Jon, Sue and Beth stumbled upon the group
quite by accident and immediately knew they were hooked.
We had moved here um you know about 1990 or 93 or something I canít remember the exact
year. But, we were walking through the Union and we looked in rooms ABC and we saw all
these people dancing doing this strange kind of dancing and we walked in and we stared
at it and we watched and we thought this looks really interesting. And so we tried it and
we were sold that night. And I think I donít remember how old our daughter was, but she
was pretty young about four years old or five or something.
>>Narrator Now Beth is a University of Illinois student still enjoying the dances she learned
at that young age. I think itís cool that I share this interest
with my family. My family and I are really close um and itís really cool to discuss
these kinds of dances. We actually do have big dance discussions like on the history
if anybody learns something new or learns a new type of dance. We like to discuss it
a lot and uh try things out. Actually, uh sometimes you can see us in like parking lots
if were coming out of a dance weíll be like practicing whatever it was we just learned.
I think the social atmosphere is nice. Like Iíve gotten to know a lot of people and the
dancing itself um the formations you tend to dance with everybody like in one dance
you see almost everybody in the line that youíre dancing with, so it is very social.
Um itís a good way to meet people and its fun to talk to people who have this kind of
same interest in history and dancing as you do.
>>Narrator That social aspect, along with the simple walking steps of the dance is what
many say draw them to it. And itís clear to see that no matter what age or skill level
you might be it doesnít matter. You might go to a bar or something where you
might thereís a particular age group and you feel a little out of place if you walk
in and youíve got some gray hairs or something it doesnít matter. But, here in the English
it doesnít matter. Thereís just all age groups, all people, all skill levels. And
itís just a natural thing and then also uh everybody asks everybody to dance. Uh women
can ask men to dance and men will ask women to dance. Sometimes if weíve got to many
women, women will dance you know one will be the lead and the other will be the follow.
You know itís just very casual that way. Thereís really no class system or age group
or anything. Itís very homogeneous everybody just asks everybody to dance.
Itís rather like at church where they have a church social. Itís just everybodyís together
and enjoying themselves. And uh you know we weíre not smokers. Weíre not drinkers. Weíre
dancers. And weíre eaters to we eat a lot of really great food. We have some good cooks
in this group. >>Narrator When theyíre not eating, though,
the dancers are hosting monthly dances in the Champaign-Urbana area featuring live music
from the Flatline Consort. Several of these dances are period-style balls in which costumes
are worn. And although the English Country dance may not be a category on Dancing with
the Stars, it still holds a place in the hearts of those who do it.
I think the mere fact that we are doing English Country Dancing makes us kind of unique. Uh
itís not the, itís not a mainstream activity. You know even though a lot of people will
do it all other the world itís not you donít see it on very many television shows or you
know so. I branch out a lot, but always come back to
this one. Um itís almost like the comfort food of dancing for me I guess.
[music and clapping] Our last story takes us to Normal, Illinois,
where Lori and I did something we wouldnít say is normally in a dayís work. Thankfully
not! We joined the Illinois State University Gamma Phi Circus for a day as they were gracious
enough to take us behind the scenes of the oldest collegiate circus in the United States.
(Announcer) Welcome to Redbird Arena as Illinois State University is proud to present the Gamma
Phi Circus! [music]
>>Narrator Now that youíve had a taste of what the Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State
University in Bloomington is all about, hereís a little history about how this group, which
is one of only two collegiate circuses in the United States, began.
We started in 1929 and we started off as an athletic society geared towards physical education,
fitness and gymnastics. And our founder Horton Pop Horton or Clifford Horton was a physical
education professor uh was also a gymnastics instructor taught tumbling at the YMCA in
downtown Bloomington, which also had a circus. And the Bloomington Normal area has been has
had a rich history in the circus history going back to the 1880s and so uh Clifford Horton
developed this Gamma Phi program as a way for young men to demonstrate feats of strength
and do athletic prowess on campus they do halftime at basketball games and stuff.
>>Narrator By 1932, the group had officially been dubbed the Gamma Phi Circus and began
performing yearly home shows each spring in April, which still continue today. The circus
is comprised of between 60 and 80 ISU students and staff and like any group, they have grown
and changed significantly throughout the years. Weíve had many evolutions and our current
evolution I guess is that we are a leadership program and we use we teach leadership skills,
personal accountability, team work. Um and we use circus as a vehicle for that, so what
you see here is a lot of students working together, putting themselves in through some
risky situations but they can do so because they promise that they are going to their
absolute best to keep each other safe theyíre responsible for one another themselves and
each other and um the end result actually is a two hour family show in Redbird Arena.
>>Narrator Becca Nemecek is a former gymnast turned circus performer who has been with
Gamma Phi for six years during her undergraduate and graduate studies. When I asked her what
a performer needs to in the circus, one word came to mind.
Thatís the word itís a big sense of trust a lot of people actually we kind of inner
dating youíll be dating the same people that you do circus with so itís kind of funny
because you may have broken up with that person but theyíre still below you holding you so
you really do need that trust factor in there so itís very important.
>>Narrator And of course trust is important when youíre doing acts like these.
We do all kinds of high caliber acrobatics. We have partner acrobatics, which would be
like group acrobatics, pyramid building, this year weíre going to be doing jump rope acrobatics
we will be doing jump rope teams and things and then we do teeterboard, we will do trampoline
which is behind me, flying trapeze, a hand balancing act, juggling, wire walking, unicycles,
the works.
>>Narrator And of course, all of these acts take practice, which we witnessed during our
visit. Eventually, the practices build up to the two-hour home show weíve been telling
you about. But in the meantime, the circus has a few other things on their plate.
We will always develop smaller acts where there is more experienced people and we do
travel and take our show on the road if you will. Weíll conduct road shows in high schools
or weíll like I said South Carolina South Dakota of Michigan, Nebraska and so weíll
take a smaller section of the group whatever the client sort of wants cause they do pay
for it. The main objective you know of all of these is that two hour show and putting
together all the components cause we do our own rigging we do our own costumes. We cut
our own music. And we work on my every aspect of the show. Um, weíre putting up most the
posters, you know weíre getting in front of the TV cameras, in front of the news and
everything else promoting. So we provide all avenues of a rounded experience that culminates
with our shows. >>Narrator And speaking of experience, were
we treated to a very unique one the day we were there. They let us try the trapeze out
for ourselves. I will say that we were definitely no flying Steels of ISU fame!
All right, good job. >>Narrator At any rate, we had a good time
taking a swing. We also had a good time getting to know the performers and what truly makes
Gamma Phi a unique organization. We have really conscious students. They really
do form a lot of relationships. We challenge them. And I think any time you take a group
of people, a diverse group of people and put a challenge to them, their going to come out
with some strong relationships. Thatís one of the biggest things that makes this a really
unique organization. These kids are really good friends. They really learn how to respect
one another and I think itís pretty evident in how they work together and the end result
at the end of the year. >>Narrator Students like Becca and Christopher
Reis say those relationships are what drew them in and kept them coming back to the circus.
The people here are so much fun and the things you get to do. I mean the things you get to
do here; you donít get to do at any other college or any other part of your life really.
So what pretty much brought me. Weíll I love that Iím able to use the skills
I learned in gymnastics and kind of transfer it to something else. I knew that I probably
didnít want to keep competing after high school, so is kind of something else in a
different atmosphere. And then the people you meet, itís just wonderful; itís feels
like a family. >>Narrator Both Becca and Christopher agreed
that the circus has helped them gain leadership skills they can take with them when they leave
ISU. Itís seeing that transformation that Al says is one of the best things about being
a part of the Gamma Phi Circus. Itís really interesting and rewarding I guess,
when you see people who have developed over four or five years and they seem to be a little
snotty or punkish at first and then they turn into really good friends and theyíve just
make a tremendous improvement. We see that a lot and sometimes there are people who need
the organization just as much or if more than the organization needs them you know. Maybe
they are a little bit shy and maybe something kind of transforms them into an outgoing person
and maybe more of a well-rounded person you know. And thatís pretty neat to see that
happen.
Weíll Kate this weekís show brings to a close another season of Heartland Highways.
We hope you enjoyed them. Until next time. Bye!
Heartland Highways is made possible in part by Consolidated Communications, offering customers
high speed internet, phone service and digital TV service packages that include high definition
channels, DVR and hundreds of sports, movies and music channels. More information on these
services available at consolidated dot com.