Theatre

Route 66 Theatre Company is pleased to conclude its ninth season with the Chicago premiere of Halley Feiffer’s dark comedy A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE GYNECOLOGIC ONCOLOGY UNIT AT SLOAN-KETTERING MEMORIAL CANCER CENTER OF NEW YORK CITY, directed by Keira Fromm, playing August 24 – September 23, 2017 at The Den Theatre’s new Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at route66theatre.org. The press opening is Tuesday, August 29 at 7:30 pm.

A FUNNY THING… features Judy Lea Steele, Meg Thalken, Stef Tovar and Mary Williamson.
 
A foul-mouthed twenty-something comedienne and a middle-aged man embroiled in a nasty divorce are brought together unexpectedly when their cancer-stricken mothers become roommates in the hospital. Together, this unlikely duo must negotiate some of life’s biggest challenges... while making some of the world’s most inappropriate jokes. Can these two very lost people learn to laugh through their pain and lean on each other when all they really want to do is run away?
 
Director Keira Fromm comments, "A Funny Thing… is a play about the ways we use humor as both a balm and a barrier to protect us from the litany of life's discomforts. I'm drawn to plays about the ways in which we cope with life. When those plays involve surviving spiky family relationships, I'm all in. Halley Feiffer is no-holds-barred when it comes to showing extremely flawed individuals at their messiest. She's also completely fearless when it comes to exposing the raw spots that result from the friction of our most fragile family relationships. This play is unbelievably funny one moment and moving in the most throat-grabbing of ways the next. I can't wait to dig in."
 
Artistic Director Stef Tovar adds, “This play was a hit in New York last summer at MCC and the Geffen Playhouse in LA is producing it right after we open with Halley Feiffer playing the role of Karla... so for a theater company our size to secure the Chicago premiere is huge for us. We're so grateful to Halley for trusting us with her incredible script and this dynamite group of ladies are going to kill it. I can't wait to get started."
 
The production team team for FUNNY THING… includes: Courtney O’Neill (scenic design), Mieka Van der Ploeg (costume design), Claire Margaret Chrzan (lighting design), Christopher Kriz (sound design), Amanda Hermann (properties design), Sasha Smith (intimacy choreographer), Catherine Allen (production manager), Helen Lattyak (stage manager) and Matthew Bonaccorso (asst. stage manager)
 
PRODUCTION DETAILS:
Title: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE GYNECOLOGIC ONCOLOGY UNIT AT SLOAN-KETTERING MEMORIAL CANCER CENTER OF NEW YORK CITY
Playwright: Halley Feiffer
Director: Keira Fromm
Cast: Judy Lea Steele (Geena), Meg Thalken (Marcie), Stef Tovar (Don) and Mary Williamson (Karla).
 
Location: The Den Theatre’s Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Thursday, August 24 at 7:30 pm, Friday, August 25 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, August 26 at 3 pm & 7:30 pm and Sunday, August 26 at 3 pm
Regular run: Thursday, August 31 – Saturday, September 23, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm
Tickets: Previews: $25 adults. Regular run: $35 adults; $20 students. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are currently available at route66theatre.org.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

In The Source, Gabriel McKinley has penned what may be destined to become a stage classic. A gripping thriller, The Source is a timeless existential drama as well.

It centers on a pair of journalists –  a writer, and a photographer – holed up in a hotel, waiting to connect with a whistleblower - someone who will reveal deep background on a cache of information just released on a security agency in the government.

In 85 tightly controlled minutes director Jason Gersace ensnares our curiosity, luring us into this very topical examination of the tension between privacy and security. It is also a study of what happens when two people who don't necessarily like each other are bound together by necessity. 

The journalists are professional opposites – the writer Vernon (Cody Proctor) is cool and cerebral; the photographer Luna (Kristina Valada-Viars) warm and intuitive. On a journalistic level, Vernon holds writing in higher esteem than photography – a notion that causes competitive professional sparks familiar to those in the field. For her part, Luna feels pictures rule. “I don’t read newspapers; it’s a dead medium,” she digs.

Vernon enters the hotel room as the lights come up, and makes a hurried canvass of the premises -  unplugging the TV, putting his phone in the freezer after removing its batteries, he draws the curtains tight – establishing his high level of anxiety and paranoia. We are not sure why.

We soon see they are opposites on a human level, too. Luna’s arrival catches him off guard (he was in the shower), and she exhibits far less angst than him. Luna readily introduces herself to Vernon and shares her background, while he is reluctant to provide even his name.

That they are to pose as a married couple while they await further signals from their source only heightens the emotional aspects of this drama.

Thrown together in a hotel room for a period that is indeterminate, the two unfold before the audience – and each other – as any roommate or cell mates will. They empty the mini bar, they attempt a tryst in bed, they lose sleep, and sleep too much.

The progression of time is conveyed artfully, with a supertitle Day 2, Day 4, etc., flashed on the wall above the window. Because the two will not admit room service, their quarters also mark the passage of time by become messier. Their clothes need laundering. They are at each other’s throats, and their claustrophobia germinates into a mutual paranoia.  

That wait goes on interspersed by just a few external diversions – a fire alarm goes off, periodically someone pounds on the door of the room, lights from an unknown source scan across the room and its occupants.

This is where The Source rises from a topical drama about government intrigue and media, to a timeless study of two people cast together, waiting, but not knowing what exactly they are waiting for. It seems like a play that will wear well over time.

Credit goes to Jack McGaw for scenic design, Claire Margaret Chrzan for lighting design, and Mark Comiskey for projection design for lighting design – particularly artful are the abstract glowing shadows of lamps inscribed on the wall when the room goes dark.  

Route 66 Theatre Company ‘s The Source runs through April 2 at The Den Theatre. www.route66theatre.brownpapertickets.com.

Published in Theatre in Review

Route 66 Theatre Company is pleased to announce the line-up for its 6th annual Mile Markers Benefit Concert: REVOLUTION: SONGS OF PROTEST AND EMPOWERMENT on Friday, March 10, 2017 at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave. in Chicago. Tickets for MILE MARKERS are currently available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2879219.

 

Featuring performances and music direction by acclaimed composer/lyricist Michael Mahler and directed by Tammy Mader, this year’s concert will also feature Missy Aguilar, Audrey Billings, Brianna Borger, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, Dara Cameron, Vasily Deris, Devin DeSantis, Dina DiCostanzo, Don Forston, Lara Filip, Sophie Grimm, Heidi Kettenring, Diana Lawrence, Adam Michaels, Andrew Mueller, Matthew Mueller, Malcolm Ruhl, Stephen Schellhardt, Bethany Thomas, Stef Tovar, Keely Vasquez and Byron Willis. The all-star band includes Jim Barclay, Liam Davis, Bob Gilmartin and Scott Stephenson.

 

Door open at 7 pm for a cash bar, light bites, silent auction and raffle followed by a night filled with music from the '60s through today. Mile Markers is the cornerstone of Route 66 Theatre Company’s fundraising efforts and directly supports the 2017 season.

 

EVENT DETAILS:

 

Title: REVOLUTION: SONGS OF PROTEST AND EMPOWERMENT

Music Director: Michael Mahler

Director: Tammy Mader

Date/Time: Friday, March 10 at 8 pm. Doors open at 7 pm for cash bar, light bites, silent auction and raffle.

Location: Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave, Chicago

Tickets: General Admission: $45 (Balcony or Main Floor SIDE seating includes ONE standard drink ticket). Reserved Seating: $60 (Main Floor CENTER seating includes ONE standard drink ticket) Premium VIP Booth Seats $400 (includes 4 seats and 8 standard drink tickets and valet parking).Tickets are currently available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2879219.

 

Biographies:

 

Michael Mahler (Concept and Music Direction) is the Jeff Award-winning composer/lyricist of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, October Sky, The Man who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, Hero, Wonderland: Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure, Something in the Game, and others. He contributed additional lyrics to the new Broadway production of Miss Saigon and created the original English libretto for Boublil and Schönberg's La Revolution Francaise. Michael is a Jeff-Nominated actor most recently seen as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors at American Blues, and he plays guitar in his band The Lincoln Squares. www.michaelmahler.com

 

Tammy Mader (Director) occasionally puts her musical theatre foot into the waters of rock & roll, mostly directing Route 66 Mile Marker concerts, which include Joshua Tree, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Jagged Little Pill (+redux), The Nightmare Before Christmas and Purple Rain. Other rock & roll endeavors: directed and choreographed Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Drury Lane Theatres in Oakbrook and Water Tower Place; directed and choreographed the musical Hairspray; belted out some ‘60s girl group ditties in Shout!; roller-skated in spandex & leather while singing Olivia Newton John hits in Xanadu; collected enough tip money during Pump Boys And Dinettes to buy beer for the company for the entire run; played Ernie the Keebler Elf in a rock-opera called Leo On Ice for the annual Leo Burnett Breakfast at the Chicago Theatre; played a ukulele in a band called Ethyl & The Mermen. 

 

Route 66 Theatre Company

 

Route 66 Theatre Company introduces, develops, produces, and exports new work for the stage. The road begins with our new play development process and reaches west, where our World and Chicago Premiere shows are given an advocate for further regional productions along the road less traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles. Since the company’s founding, Route 66 has produced 10 productions, 2 in two cities including an Off-Broadway premiere, been nominated for ten Jeff Awards and won two. Route 66 is now a resident company of The Den Theatre. www.route66theatre.org

 

Route 66 is Stef Tovar, Founder and Artistic Director; Rachel Wendte, Managing Director; Deborah Blumenthal, Director of New Play Development; Alana Parvey-Zalas, Business Manager; Matthew Bonaccorso, Company Manager and Kelly Parker, Casting Director

 

Route 66 Theatre Company Artistic Associates: Brian Sidney-Bembridge, Audrey Billings, Johnny Clark, Brandon Dahlquist, Raymond Fox, Damon Kiely, Ron Klier, Jenni Lamb, Tyler Meredith, John Mohrlein, Kelly Parker, Geoff Rice, Emily Rohm, Tricia Small, Jeremy Sonkin, Alex Stage, Nancy Staiger, Erica Stephan, Bethany Thomas, Rita Vreeland, Steven Wilson, Rachel Wendte and Emily Woods.

 

Route 66 Theatre Company Board of Directors: Jennifer Baumann, President; Deborah Haimes, Vice-President of Communications; Nicholas Stone, Treasurer; Molly Crabtree, Secretary; Elizabeth Derrico, David and Monica Byrd, Lee Dickson, James Frenzel, Laurie Hamilton, Tammy Rosenszweig, Pat Turnbull and Robert Veasey.

 

Route 66 Theatre Company’s 9th Season is presented by generous grants from MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency and DCASE CityArts. 

 

Published in Buzz Extra

Route 66 Theatre Company is pleased to launch its ninth season with the world premiere of Gabe McKinley’s psychological drama THE SOURCE, directed by Jason Gerace, playing March 2 – April 2, 2017 at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets for THE SOURCE are currently available at route66theatre.brownpapertickets.com. The press opening is Tuesday, March 7 at 7:30 pm.

 

THE SOURCE features Kristina Valada-Viars and Cody Proctor.

 

On the hunt for the biggest story of their careers, two journalists are summoned to travel across the world to meet with The Source: an unidentified leaker of hacked documents and information on the U.S. government. As these strangers probe one another for the truth and information, they find themselves in a thrilling psychological drama that leads them to examine their motives, their country and themselves… all while waiting for The Source. 

 

Director Jason Gerace comments, "The question of ‘privacy versus security’ is central to our time, and I could not be more pleased that Route 66 Theatre Company has agreed to take it on. McKinley's play tackles this question with urgency and frames it in a way that resonates in the current moment, while building a thrilling theatrical experience for the audience. I am beyond excited to be at the helm of the world premiere of this important new play."

 

The production team for THE SOURCE includes: Jack McGaw (scenic design), Claire Margaret Chrzan (lighting design), Christopher Kriz (sound design), Mark Comiskey (projection design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), Pauline Oleksy (props design), Catherine Allen (production manager), Brian Sprague (technical director), Nancy Staiger (stage manager) and Matthew Bonaccorso (asst. stage manager).

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

 

Title: THE SOURCE

Playwright: Gabe McKinley

Director: Jason Gerace

Cast: Kristina Valada-Viars (Laura) and Cody Proctor (Vernon). 

 

Location: The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Thursday, March 2 at 7:30 pm, Friday, March 3 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, March 4 at 3 pm & 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 5 at 3 pm

Press Opening: Tuesday, March 7 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Thursday, March 9 – Sunday, April 2, 2017

Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm

Tickets: Previews: $25 adults. Regular run: $35 adults; $20 students. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available at route66theatre.brownpapertickets.com.

 

Creative Team Bios

 

Gabe McKinley’s (Playwright) plays have been produced and developed by companies nationally and internationally, including Atlantic Theater Company, Naked Angels, Premiere Stages, The Old Vic, American Theater Company, Ensemble Studio Theater, The LARK, Keen company, Williamstown Theater Festival and Red Dog Squadron, among others. His plays include The Kitchen Sink Play, Welcome Home Rock Rogers, Funny, Floodplains, Skopje, The Source, as well as the critically acclaimed Extinction and CQ/CX (John Gassner Outer Critics Award nomination). His short play, The Grave, was the winner of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival. Gabe was the recipient of the Samuel French/New School for Drama Award for Excellence in Playwriting, and his play CQ/CX was included in the Smith and Krause anthology "New Playwrights: The Best New Plays."  A graduate of NYU and The New School for Drama, Gabe lives in New York.

 

Jason Gerace (Director) is a freelance director in Chicago, and has been Artistic Associate of American Theater Company since 2008. He was the recipient of the 2014 Non-Equity Jeff Award in Outstanding Direction for his work on Great Expectations with Strawdog Theatre Company. Regional directing credits include Last Train to Nibroc (Haven Theatre, Chicago), Wrecks (with John Judd, Profiles Theatre, Chicago), Opus and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (RedTwist Theatre, Chicago), Hamlet (Oklahoma Shakespeare Chautauqua), Pygmalion (Oak Park Festival Theatre). Jason originally hails from Anchorage, Alaska and holds an MFA in Directing from The University of Oklahoma.  He is a resident of Oak Park, and an associate member of SDC.

 

Route 66 Theatre Company

 

Route 66 Theatre Company introduces, develops, produces, and exports new work for the stage. The road begins with our new play development process and reaches west, where our World and Chicago Premiere shows are given an advocate for further regional productions along the road less traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles. Since the company’s founding, Route 66 has produced 10 productions, 2 in two cities including an Off-Broadway premiere, been nominated for ten Jeff Awards and won two. Route 66 is now a resident company of The Den Theatre. www.route66theatre.org

 

Route 66 is Stef Tovar, Founder and Artistic Director; Rachel Wendte, Managing Director; Deborah Blumenthal, Director of New Play Development; Alana Parvey-Zalas, Business Manager; Matthew Bonaccorso, Company Manager and Kelly Parker, Casting Director

 

Route 66 Theatre Company Artistic Associates: Brian Sidney-Bembridge, Audrey Billings, Johnny Clark, Brandon Dahlquist, Raymond Fox, Damon Kiely, Ron Klier, Jenni Lamb, Tyler Meredith, John Mohrlein, Kelly Parker, Geoff Rice, Emily Rohm, Tricia Small, Jeremy Sonkin, Alex Stage, Nancy Staiger, Erica Stephan, Bethany Thomas, Rita Vreeland, Steven Wilson, Rachel Wendte and Emily Woods.

 

Route 66 Theatre Company Board of Directors: Jennifer Baumann, President; Deborah Haimes, Vice-President of Communications; Nicholas Stone, Treasurer; Molly Crabtree, Secretary; Elizabeth Derrico, David and Monica Byrd, Lee Dickson, James Frenzel, Laurie Hamilton, Tammy Rosenszweig, Pat Turnbull and Robert Veasey.

 

Route 66 Theatre Company’s 9th Season is presented by generous grants from MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency and DCASE CityArts. 

 ###

 

Published in Buzz Extra

The dialogue flows so smoothly one might forget they are sitting in a play. Veteran Chicago area actor Stef Tovar, who also founded the Route 66 Theatre Company in 2008, leads the charge in this play full of emotional interchanges combined with sharp humor. 

Route 66’s No Wake, currently running at The Greenhouse Theater Center in Lincoln Park, tells the story of a divorced couple Edward (Tovar) and Rebecca (Lia D. Mortensen) who are brought back together due to the suicide of their daughter, Sookie. Rebecca is now remarried to Roger (Raymond Fox) while Edward is kind of drifting along through life. As Edward and Rebecca spend more time together wondering what happened to their daughter and how they really lost her long before she killed herself, the situation becomes much more complex as past feelings come in to play and an attempt to mend the past is made. 

Directed by Kimberly Senior, No Wake explores the grieving process, which is understandably different for everyone. Countless questions on what could have been differently can be asked and scenarios traveled. In this case, taking on blame for negating their child the ability to develop coping skills weighs heavily on Edward just by simply buckling and giving Sookie toast with butter when she demanded before falling asleep rather than saying “No”. Giving your daughter toast at her command might sound trivial, but writer William Donnelly does a great job of finding these possible seeds of later behavior into a world where grieving parents desperately seek cause for such a tragedy, making the story quite realistic. Though the subject matter falls on the macabre side, the show is not without well-timed humor and even sports a very funny scene when Roger confronts Edward, suspecting that he and Rebecca did more than just reminisce about their daughter the night before. 

Thanks to a very finely acted and well-written story, it is easy to get lost in the dialogue and empathize with each of the three characters. The set, though simple, creates the prefect surrounding for these skilled actors to have at it. Tovar gets stronger and stronger as the show progresses, reminding theatre goers why it is always a joy to watch him in action. At the same time, Mortensen and Fox dish out lines with precision, zip and realism, completing a trio who flow together without a hitch in perfect unison.

The fact that we are presented with three such truly well-acted performances is reason alone to catch No Wake before its runs ends, but when you add its intriguing story and engaging topic matter this show is propelled onto the list of must see plays. 

No Wake is being performed at The Greenhouse Theater Center through February 7th. For tickets and/or more show information visit www.Route66Theatre.org.          

 

Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

Register

Latest Articles

Guests Online

We have 91 guests and no members online

Buzz Chicago on Facebook Buzz Chicago on Twitter