Following an entertaining and creative regular season, the Celebration Company at the Station Theatre is ready to announce its three-show summer lineup.
a play by Tracy Letts
Superior Donuts is the story of Arthur, a Chicago donut shop owner, and his newest employee, the fast-talking Franco, a kid from the street who has big plans for both the donut shop and himself. In his review of the Broadway production of Superior Donuts, New York Times critic Charles Isherwood remarked that it was “a gentle comedy that unfolds like an extended episode of a 1970s sitcom.” Having read the play myself, I have to agree. I was taken with the Chico & the Man elements of the script, and I mean that as a compliment. Along with its cast of colorful neighborhood characters and heartfelt message, there is an earnestness to the piece mixed with a laid-back, humanistic feel. The Broadway production featured, as its leads, celebrated character actor Michael McKean and University of Illinois alum Jon Michael Hill (both pictured above), who was nominated for a Male Supporting Actor Tony.
The Station production of Superior Donuts will be directed by Thom Schnarre (a contributor to Smile Politely) who led off this past season with his production of How I Learned to Drive. Lincoln Machula and William Anthony Sebastian Rose II will play Arthur and Franco, respectively. The rest of the cast includes: Thom Miller (Max), Nina Samii (Randy), Nathon Jones (James), Barbara Ridenour (Lady Boyle), Dar’Keith Lofton (Luther), Aaron L. Winston (Kevin), and Maxwell Tomaszewski (Kiril).
June 27–July 13
Evil Dead: The Musical
Book and lyrics by George Reinblatt
Music by Frank Cipolla, Christopher Bond, Melissa Morris and George Reinblatt
Originally produced in Toronto, Ontario, in 2003, this rock musical version of the cult classic movie eventually received an Off-Broadway run in 2006. The New York Times called it “the next Rocky Horror Show.” In the show, five college students spend the weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods, accidentally unleashing an evil terror. Of course, this being a musical comedy riff on 1980s horror franchise, all of the characters, including the demons, sing and dance. And, as in the films, beloved lead protagonist Ash is there to dish out one-liners and ass-kickings.
It should be mentioned that the original production went forward with the blessing of both the film’s director, Sam Raimi, and its star, Bruce Campbell. Also noteworthy is that the first three rows of the theatre are typically referred to as the “splatter zone.” This comedic rocker will be in the hands of Station regular Mikel L. Matthews Jr., who has previously wowed audiences with such shows as Rent, The Full Monty, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. His musical director will be Aaron Kaplan, with choreography by Whitney Havice. The ubiquitous and talented Michael Steen will play Ash, alongside Christopher Terrell Brown (as Scott), Aaron Clark (Jake), Mike Prosise (Ed), Madeline Knight-Dixon (Linda), Laura Anne Welle (Cheryl), Ellen Fred (Shelly), and Malia Andrus (Annie).
July 25–August 3
Freud’s Last Session
a play by Mark St. Germain
Freud’s Last Session is a smart, cerebral two-hander of a play focusing on legendary psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud, who invites young, little-known professor, C.S. Lewis, to his home in London. Lewis, expecting to be called on the carpet for satirizing Freud in a recent book, soon realizes Freud has a much more significant agenda. Freud and Lewis clash on the existence of God, love, sex, and the meaning of life on the very day England enters into World War II … and shortly before Freud takes his own life.
The Station’s summer closer will be directed by Station and Krannert Center veteran Tom Mitchell, and will feature Gary Ambler and Jesse Angelo as Freud and Lewis, respectively. Such a clever vehicle for two gifted actors, and the perfect way to cap off a diverse and challenging season.
Check out the Station’s website for information on ticket reservations, and come back to Smile Politely for previews, reviews, and updated information about these and other offerings in our arts community over the summer months.