Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Philip Henrikson

Interview Conducted by: Kevin Ray – Egyptian Theatre Intern

Philip is the owner of The Gaming Goat in downtown DeKalb that is sponsoring the free showing of Pokemon 2000 on Sunday, April 23rd at 2:00pm. I had a chance to interview him this week about the upcoming showing of the movie held at the Egyptian Theatre.

Kevin: Why do you think Pokemon has stood the test of time?

Philip: They have a lot of different products like the TV show, video games, and trading cards. There are a lot of people who do not partake in any of that, but are still huge Pokemon fans. The reason is that Pokemon has become such a cultural phenomenon because there is so much that can be done with it. It has touched on so many different aspects of life.

Kevin: What does Pokemon mean to you?

Philip: It is a fun way to connect with people of all ages. It also gets other people connecting with each other that would not normally interact.


Kevin: How long have you been in business?

Philip: We have been going for about three years. First it was a corporate location, and then the gaming goat corporation sold me the store. They gave me special financing on that to enable me to own the store. I have owned the store for two years now. In the time that I have owned the store we have added video games which has been a fast growing product category for us. There are a lot of people coming in for that, and a lot of people selling us collections. We have all of the games from the gaming systems like Xbox, PlayStation, and Wii.


Kevin: Why did you partner with the Egyptian Theatre for this show?

Philip: One of our biggest things is doing what makes sense. The Egyptian Theatre is only a block away and it is non profit theatre. It is a beautiful venue, and they were really awesome in enabling us to provide this for our customers. They made it really easy, no hurdles to jump through or anything. We are paying the royalties for the movies, but they are opening their doors up to us. This was a golden combination in our eyes. We literally hit the sweet spot. Last time we were able to show the movie to over 300 people. We can spend a good amount of money and provide a great value for the community.

Kevin: What can people take away from these Pokemon showings?  

Philip:  I think the biggest thing people can take away from these Pokemon showings is that businesses can do a better job spending their marketing budget in a way that actually provides value for their customers. We had the option to contact a local newspaper or radio station and spend $400 for them to shout out to their audience “Hey look at me I’m the Gaming Goat”. Not only is that not doing any good for the listener but it is also uninvited which sometime can have the opposite of the intended effect on the consumer. Instead that money is going towards providing the fees to screen a free movie not only for my customers, but for the entire community.

Our business will reap an even stronger marketing reward and when coupled with the value those who attend the showing receive; it’s money very well spent in the end. Hundreds of people will benefit by getting to see a free Pokemon movie and hundreds more will hear about it and know that the Gaming Goat made it happen. We will provide a fun afternoon for anyone interested and ask nothing in return. To be able to have your business fund something like this is great, but to have it pay for itself is a golden combination. I challenge all businesses and organizations to think outside of the box when spending funds on marketing and find a way to provide a disproportionate value for your customers. That gesture will go much further than interrupting their media consumption whether it be print, radio, or television.

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Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Tricia Runzel

Interview conducted by: Kevin Ray – Egyptian Theatre Intern

Tricia Runzel is the Curator of Education and Interpretation at the Ellwood House Museum. I had a chance to interview her recently about the upcoming Local Lore tour program that is being held at the Egyptian Theatre.

Kevin: I understand this is the first local Local Lore tour being held. Where did this idea for the tour come from?

Tricia: It was actually Alex’s idea to make this program a tour. When I first approached him with the idea of doing a talk on the history and architecture of the Egyptian, I was thinking of it in terms of our usual lecture format. Alex thought it would be more impactful for community members to view the architecture in person; and I couldn’t agree more!

Kevin:  What do you hope this tour will accomplish?

Tricia:  Like all of our Local Lore programs, I hope this tour will shine a light on an aspect of our local history. Here in DeKalb County, we have so many unique historical moments, buildings, and stories. The Egyptian is especially iconic and I think showcasing its historical roots may give community members a chance to look at the building in a new way.

Kevin: Why was it important to have it held at the Egyptian Theatre?

Tricia: I think this gets back to your first question. Although it would have been nice to look at photos and hear Alex present at another location, it is truly more powerful to see something in person. Standing within a historic site has this unique opportunity to transport you to another time. It’s so much easier to imagine yourself attending one of the Egyptian’s earliest shows in 1929 or 1930 if you’re standing in the building than if you’re sitting in a conference room somewhere looking at photos. I hope that by having this tour at the Egyptian Theatre, visitors will make that special connection between the historical information and the site itself.

Kevin: What do you hope the people who take the tour walk away with when they leave?

Tricia: There will be a lot of takeaways from this program. First, it will give visitors a chance to learn the history of the building – why it came to DeKalb, why the Egyptian style was chosen, what those early years were like. Visitors will also get the opportunity to see the lesser-known areas of the building. Most people are used to being part of the audience, but have never been behind-the-scenes. I hope this program will give them a new perspective. And finally, I hope the tour will deepen community members’ love of this special and historic structure.

Kevin: What are you looking forward to most about the tour?

Tricia: Would you believe I’ve never been to the Egyptian? (Terrible, I know!) I’m still somewhat new to DeKalb myself and haven’t had a chance to visit yet. I can’t wait to see it in person and what a treat it will be that my first visit includes a chance to literally go behind-the-scenes! I have a feeling I won’t be the only first time visitor.

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Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Barb King

Interview conducted by: Kevin Ray – Egyptian Theatre Intern

Barb King is a volunteer for the Penguin Project. I had a chance to interview her about the upcoming documentary being held at the Egyptian Theatre on Sunday April 9th.

Kevin:  How did it all get started?

Barb:  Penguin Project was created by Dr. Andy Morgan in Peoria in 2004. Andy is a pediatrician specializing in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities who loves community theatre. Penguin Project was his way of combining those two loves.

Kevin: How did you get involved with the Penguin Project?

Barb: I was at a conference in Peoria in 2008 where the Penguin Project performed one night. I was incredibly moved because I have a son with disabilities who loved performing and knew that this would be perfect for him. After the performance I met Andy and Kathy Morgan and told them that the Sycamore/DeKalb community would embrace the Penguin Project and that my husband Joe was on the board of Children’s Community Theatre. I immediately called Joe and told him I had found their next program. Two years later CCT did their first Penguin Project show and it has been a hit (and changing lives) ever since.

Kevin: So Barb, tell me a little bit about the Penguin Project Documentary?

Barb: After our third Penguin Project Production, we were approached by Randy Caspersen, a Communication professor at NIU who said that he wanted to make a documentary about Penguin Project – to show what goes on behind the scenes. We were thrilled because unlike most shows, the real magic of Penguin Project is what happens at rehearsals — how our artists overcome their disabilities, and the friendships they establish with the mentors that help them do so. As incredible as what you see on stage is, that is the real magic of this program, and Randy and his students did a great job of capturing that. They followed us from the very first organizational meeting, through the final curtain and beyond. They dug into the lives of some of our artists and mentors and they created a very moving film.

Kevin: What do you hope the audience walks away with after the documentary?

Barb: As with our Penguin Project shows, we hope that anyone who watches this documentary walks away with an understanding that people with disabilities can accomplish incredible things if you allow them the opportunity and provide them with the right supports. We hope that it will help them see everyone for their abilities rather than their disabilities.

Kevin: Why did you call it the Penguin Project?

Barb: Penguins are birds that can’t fly — so by definition they are disabled. However, penguins have found incredible ways to adapt to their surroundings and overcome that disability. They can slip and slide across the snow on their bellies, and when they get into the water they are incredibly nimble and graceful. They are also highly social animals. All of those things make them the perfect mascot for this program, because like them, our artists soar with the support of their mentors and the army of volunteers that helps make Penguin Project possible.

Tickets still available, click picture below to purchase ticket.

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Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Ralph Sherman

Interview Conducted by: Kevin Ray – Egyptian Theatre Intern

Ralph is the producer, director and the master of ceremonies for the Kishwaukee Kiwanis Community Talent show that will be on April 1st at the Egyptian Theatre. I had a chance to interview Ralph about the upcoming event and why he chose to have it at the Egyptian Theatre.

Kevin: Tell me a little bit about the Community Talent Show?

Ralph: This is our first community talent show. It is intended to provide a showcase for local talent and is not a contest. It is an opportunity to share their talent and at the same time, help raise money for local charities.

Kevin:  What are you looking forward to most about this show?

Ralph: I would hope the show can accomplish both of our goals and at the same time, make the community more aware of our Kiwanis club.  The Kishwaukee Kiwanis club was formed in 1969 and has approximately 55 members. We are a service club, meaning that we provide services for our community in the form of raising monies for charity, especially for charities that serve children and helping with community projects, such as the Corn Boil.


Kevin: Why did you choose to have this event held at the Egyptian Theatre?

Ralph: We chose the Egyptian Theatre because of it’s location and the historical nature of the theatre. That it could provide seating for 1,400 was also appealing. We wanted to bring more entertainment to the downtown area.

Kevin:  What can the audience expect?

Ralph: I feel the audience can expect to see a local talent show that is suitable for family entertainment. It will be a fast moving two hour show of singers, dancers, musicians, comedians, and even tumblers.

Kevin:  Is this the first of many future community talent shows?

Ralph: Whether we will have more talent shows will depend upon the success and acceptance of this first show. I had a leading role in 16 similar shows in Joliet, IL. and was the producer/director of six more and brought the idea to the club about a year and a half ago. We formed a committee to “explore the possibility of this kind of show” and after six months of intensive study and meetings, the club decided to support the concept of this show.

Kevin: Can you tell me about the Kishwaukee Kiwanis?

Ralph: I was fortunate to serve as the first President of the Kishwaukee Kiwanis club that was formed as a noon meeting club in 1969. Kiwanis as an organization is well over a 100 years old and has approximately 250,000 members worldwide that conduct similar fund raising projects in their communities. We meet every Wednesday noon for luncheon at Faranda’s in DeKalb and the meeting concludes at 1:00 P.M. If anyone, male or female, is interested in getting more information about our club and Kiwanis, they are invited to be our guest and attend our meeting.  We now have three club projects to raise these funds; our annual Peanut Day sales, Biking with Beanzie and this show. Together, whatever funds are raised are put back into the community to help other non-profit organizations.

Tickets are still available. Click the picture below to purchase tickets.


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Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Mel Witmer

Interview Conducted by: Kevin Ray – Egyptian Theatre Intern

Mel Witmer is the owner of O’Leary’s Ale House in Downtown DeKalb. I had a chance to interview him about his Pub & Grill as well as the show they are partnering with us for Friday March 24th Gaelic Storm.

Kevin: So Mel, tell me a little bit about the history of O’Learys?

Mel: We originally started in Dixon, Illinois in 2000. I always had a passion to open up an O’Leary’s brand because my mothers maiden name is O’Leary. I come from a long bloodline of Irish. I always loved the theme of the Irish. They are well spirited with great jokes, and just an all around great group of folks.


Kevin: What are some of your favorite memories of Gaelic Storm’s performances here at the Egyptian Theatre?

Mel: You know, I’m always sensitive to the first one. That was my first impression of what they were all about. Gaelic Storm has a cult like following, they have fans that will follow them around everywhere. They always make sure their shows are affordable, and I really like that about them because they are so humble and down to earth. They always come back to O’Leary’s after the concert to sign autographs and be very interactive with the fans. It really has turned into a friendship where we keep in contact with them.

Kevin: How has the Egyptian Theatre benefited your business?

Mel: The Egyptian Theatre has always benefited my business. When there is activity at the Egyptian Theatre, all of the businesses benefit. Alex has taken things to the next level and has been instrumental in the success of that theatre. It is a very unique theatre because there are not many of them like it. I think it is unfortunate that people who have grown up in DeKalb County have never gotten the chance to experience the magic this theatre has to offer.

Kevin: What are you looking forward to most for this show?

Mel: I am looking forward to the large groups of people that will be having social happiness, and getting to know and getting along with other people who they may have not met yet. It is a giant party where everyone is making new friends and celebrating with old friends. I always look forward to all of it, they bring a little bit of a twist to it every year.

Kevin:  If you could pick any show or performer to see at the Egyptian Theatre, who would it be and why?

Mel: I sure do love Ron White. He was such a great character. I think who ever comes to the Egyptian attracts multiple demographic and I think that is very important because it brings people together who would normally not be around each other.

Click here to learn more about O’Leary’s Ale House

Tickets are still available for Gaelic Storm. Click picture below to purchase tickets.

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