BACKSTAGE QUESTIONS…with The Arcada Theatre’s Ron Onesti

You ask ‘em, I’ll get them answered!

“I know you had Kevin Costner at The Arcada and Des Plaines.  What does he do and what kind of a guy is he?”-Tina B. Carol Stream

Kevin Costner has a country band called “Modern West”.  He re-united with some college buddies he used to play with at the suggestion of his wife.  They play their own songs, written mostly by Kevin.  It’s pretty cool because although the songs are not about any particular film he was in, many were written while waiting for his scene on location in a trailer and represent his feelings at that moment.  He is a very humble and fun guy, with a dry sense of humor.  Soft spoken, he is a regular-guy that loves to just “fade into” a crowd.  When I told him it was partially because of the “If you build it, they will come” line in his film “Field of Dreams” that actually made me take on The Arcada, he teared up and thanked me for sharing that his film made a difference in the history of the theatre.


“Do you know if that is Bret Michaels’ real hair or is it extensions that he hides with that bandana?”  ——Michelle T., Bloomingdale

Wow!  That’s a good question!  I have worked with Bret on many occasions, and I have seen him without the bandana.  I do know he had an accident a while back that caused a scar he tries to hide with the bandana.  His close circle tells me that although he has done many things with his hair, currently those are his blonde locks!


“The new singer from the band KANSAS is a local guy from Chicago, I think.  Did he actually audition?  —-Jimmy W., Chicago

This is such a cool “American Dream” story.  Ronnie Platt, the new lead singer for KANSAS, was a local truck driver and weekend warrior slash singer in the 70s rock cover band ARRA.  Steve Walsh from KANSAS retired and a national search for his replacement ensued.  ARRA had opened for KANSAS a few years back at a festival, so Ronnie sent the band a note reflecting his interest in auditioning.  The band remembered him, recalling his great talent and stage presence.  A couple of days later Ronnie flew to meet the band to determine his “chemistry”.  They hired him on the spot and in just a bfew days he went from truck driver to international rock star!


“Justin Bieber is on tour again, and I don’t understand why?  Is he still packing them in? –Mary Ann J., St. Charles

I’ll be honest, Justin is not on my bucket list.  He is a young man with great talent and the opportunity to change lives positively, but chooses to be controversial.  Far be it for me to judge, but I don’t get way.  However, a couple of years back, a friend of mine asked me if it was possible for me to get his granddaughter to meet him.  She was nine years old with spinal bifida.  I didn’t think I could, but I contacted his manager anyway.  At 11:00 pm the night before the concert, his manager called me and told me to bring her down.  Justin could not have been nicer to this girl.  It was a tearful moment, and for me, he became a superstar.  If this young man can only realize the power he has.


“Really, you had ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ by you?  She is my FAVORITE!”-Shelly K., Morton Grove

Barbara Eden announced a speaking tour where she was going to talk about her career as television and film star.  I JUMPED all over this!  I even got the opportunity to interview her on stage!  She was so sweet, and even carries a replica of the famous bottle used on the television program.  Did you know the original bottle was a Jim Beam liquor bottle?  She had the most controversial navel in the biz!  It was exposed the first two seasons but by season three, it started getting some attention so NBC said, “Cover it up!”  She was also pregnant during season one, requiring the need for more veils and close-ups!


“Was Joan Rivers as arrogant as she appears on TV?”- Stephen H., St. Charles

Joan was extremely sweet and a true pro.  We shot her last Stand-up television special at The Arcada.  She came in, was very nice and inquisitive about the theatre’s history, and immediately took charge.  She became involved in everything, the set design, the music, the audience and the script.  She was a bit crude at times, but as she put it, “It’s what they came here for.  If they didn’t, then ‘blank’ them!” 


Ron Onesti is President and CEO of The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.  Send your questions about show biz personalities to