Artists in Conversation is a weekly column running Wednesdays on QuadCities.com.

It features a conversation with a local creator or creators going Want To Learn More About Quad-Cities Creators? Welcome To Artists In Conversation!into their artistic process, projects and more. Get to know your local arts scene and local creators better on QuadCities.com with Artists In Conversation!

If you’re a local creator and would like to be featured, please email us at Sean@QuadCities.com or Tristan@QuadCities.com!

This week our Artists in Conversation from QuadCities.com features Tommy Ratkiewicz-Stierwalt!

Tommy is a veteran Quad City performer but he makes his community theatre directorial debut Artists In Conversation Introduces Us To 'Music Man' Director Tommy Ratkiewicz-Stierwaltthis weekend with Countryside Community Theatre’s The Music Man!

We all know you as a charming Quad City performer but this time you’re stepping behind the scenes! What has that been like?

First, thats very kind of you! Second, Its exhilarating…seeing the process from the other side of the table has been extremely rewarding

Have you directed before?

This is my directorial debut in the community, however, I directed and choreographed Cinderella and Chicago at Moline High School in 2017!

Artists In Conversation Introduces Us To 'Music Man' Director Tommy Ratkiewicz-StierwaltWhat was it about this show that attracted you?

I grew up listening to my paternal grandmother playing The Music Man on her piano. So this show holds a very special place in my heart.

Artists In Conversation Introduces Us To 'Music Man' Director Tommy Ratkiewicz-StierwaltHow does The Music Man play to a modern day audience?

I’ve said it over and over again, “Never judge a book (or a person) by their cover. Everyone is dealing with things you know nothing about about. While first impressions are important, they can be wrong. I say this: Be kind.

Why should someone see The Music Man?

I’ve made sure that the cast has brought their personalities to the characters instead of trying to imitate Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. I wanted the characters to be relatable in 2021. Not to mention, there’s something for everyone: the vocals, choreography, set, the pit.

It’s a fresh new take on an Iowa classic.

Theatre is back and we are ALL THRILLED! 

What does it mean to you to see the arts coming back into focus?

After the year we had, it is nice to get back to creating with such a talented group of artists. I’ve been able to work with so many friends, old Artists In Conversation Introduces Us To 'Music Man' Director Tommy Ratkiewicz-Stierwaltand new, and I’m so grateful.

What did you learn with your time away from the arts industry? How did you stay sane?

I learned that, although we weren’t able to create art publicly, there are plenty of other ways to keep creating. In my case that was Youtube, Sessions Live and of course my husband’s 2020 Halloween Reveal (OG and Live action Aquaman)!

Artists In Conversation Introduces Us To 'Music Man' Director Tommy Ratkiewicz-StierwaltWhat’s next for you?

I’m anxious to return to The Black Box Theatre this fall to play Bobby in Company!

What’s a dream show for you in this moment?

Aladdin in Aladdin

You can see Tommy and the company of The Music Man at North Scott High School June 25, 26 and 27 and July 1, 2 and 3. Get your tickets now when you visit https://www.countrysidetheatre.com!

Artists In Conversation Introduces Us To 'Music Man' Director Tommy Ratkiewicz-Stierwalt

Artists In Conversation Introduces Us To 'Music Man' Director Tommy Ratkiewicz-Stierwalt

Artists In Conversation Introduces Us To 'Music Man' Director Tommy Ratkiewicz-Stierwalt

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Artists In Conversation Introduces Us To 'Music Man' Director Tommy Ratkiewicz-Stierwalt
Tristan Layne Tapscott has been dubbed the “Quad Cities’ P.T. Barnum” and although the person who initially said it meant it as an insult, he happily accepts the title.