To paraphrase a famous quote by Teddy Roosevelt, Alton Little Theater is well-known for doing what it can, with what it has, where it is.
The ever-popular local theater group has been showcasing local talent in shows put together by local volunteers for 82 seasons now.
The theater has recently decided to start bringing regional and national actors to the stage, as well – and they’re kicking it off with the nation’s premier Teddy Roosevelt re-enactor Joe Wiegand. Wiegand will be appearing in his one-man show, “An Evening with Teddy Roosevelt,” on Saturday, Oct. 24.
“We are so pleased to offer a national tour show with an outstanding actor at the ALT Showplace,” PR Director Lee Cox said. Commenting on the total commitment an actor must make to take on the role of a powerful and beloved icon, she added, “I am truly enchanted and have learned so much just in researching the show. Joe will present a 90-minute show full of superb storytelling and an understanding of the layers of America’s youngest and most visionary president.”
Wiegand’s performance is part of the theater’s “Extra, EXTRA Entertainment” Series, which includes six main stage productions, as well as eight one-time events, including music, comedy and theatrical bonus shows.
“It is the theater’s goal to showcase the best of local talent and to bring in unique programs to educate and entertain every interest,” Cox said.
In another famous quip, Roosevelt once advised, “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.” Roosevelt re-enactor Joe Wiegand has done just that, keeping grounded due to a Midwestern upbringing and a wealth of historical knowledge.
“Since my childhood in Northern Illinois, I have been taken with the study of history, and especially, an appreciation for the courage and sacrifice of our previous generations,” he said in an interview with AdVantage News.
Wiegand studied political science, becoming a Harry S. Truman and Thomas J. Watson Fellow, and then spent 25 years working in politics and public policy.
He explained the passion he developed for Teddy Roosevelt.
“Theodore Roosevelt is a fascinating character, and much of what he said and did a century ago deserves repeating today,” he said.
Meanwhile, Wiegand kept his eyes on the stars, combining his historical and political interests with a love for the stage. He toured all 50 states with his family in tow to celebrate Roosevelt’s 150th birthday, a trip highlighted by his performance at the White House for President and Mrs. George W. Bush. He has even portrayed Roosevelt on television, most recently in “The Men Who Built America” on the History Channel. He will also be featured in an upcoming IMAX film about America’s national parks, scheduled for an early 2016 release.
So it’s easy to see why the people at Alton Little Theater are excited to offer a chance to see Wiegand’s one-man show right here in Alton.
“’An Evening with Teddy Roosevelt’ is akin to Hal Holbrook’s portrayal of Mark Twain,” he said. “It’s family entertainment, blending history and humor.”
Wiegand, who refers to himself as a “combination scholar and entertainer,” has performed in this area previously.
“The people of the Mississippi River Valley live in a region so very significant in American history,” he said. “(My show) will certainly salute the region and what its history meant to him.”
In addition to Wiegand’s performance, ALT, with Wiegand’s assistance, will be holding an auction of items related to Roosevelt, including a walking stick in honor of his “speak softly and carry a big stick” quip, as well as a “Teddy bear,” signed posters, coffee mugs and more. Cox said she’s excited to bid on several of the items herself.
“Adolescents and adults alike will be enthralled and enjoy sampling the president’s favorite cake, cookies and libations,” she said.
Wiegand will perform his show twice on Oct. 24 at the Alton Little Theater at 2450 Henry St., once at 5 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $22 for adults and $10 for students under age 18, and can be purchased through the ALT Box Office at (618) 462-3205 on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. until 2p.m., or through www.altonlittletheater.org.
To learn more about Wiegand, visit www.teddyrooseveltshow.com.
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