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Now EXTENDED through August 21!
Chicago Tribune video
the musical event of the season
Book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Chicago. 1959. Before two movies and three Broadway productions, summer lovin' happened on Lake Michigan and the Pink Ladies were a group of working class outsiders living on Chicago’s Northwest Side. Including never-before-heard music, lyrics and scenes, author Jim Jacobs teams up with Artistic Director PJ Paparelli and Choreographer Jim Corti to bring to life for the first time since 1971 the original R-Rated version of the world’s most famous movie musical.
This production contains language and material not suitable for children.
April 21-June 26
This version of Grease is derived from several sources. A majority of the material is based on early rehearsal and production drafts of the original 1971 production of Grease produced at the old Kingston Mines Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. Revisions to that draft have been based on the 1972 Broadway production and subsequent versions over the last forty years. The creative team hopes to present a new version of the original Grease, true to Jim Jacobs' and Warren Casey's vision of 1950's life on Chicago's Northwest side.
Jim Jacobs (Book, Music and Lyrics) is the co-creator of the hit Broadway musical Grease and was one of three judges on NBC’s talent-composition series Grease: You’re the One That I Want. Jacobs, who created Grease (in 1970) with Warren Casey, was born and raised on Chicago’s far Northwest side. During the golden era of rock ‘n’ roll (1956-1960) he was a guitar-playing “greaser” student at Taft High School. In 1963, Jacobs met Warren Casey when they were both cast in a community theatre production of A Shot in the Dark. Seven years later, the pair sat down and wrote what was to become one of the greatest musicals of all time. An instant success, Grease opened in 1971 in an old former trolley barn called the Kingston Mines Theatre on Chicago’s North Side. A year later, Grease made it to Broadway and “Greasemania” took off, eventually resulting in the longest running show (3,388 perfs.) in Broadway history. The 1978 Grease movie became the highest-grossing motion picture musical of all time (a record that still stands today). Originally an actor, Jacobs has appeared on television, in motion pictures, regional theatre, national tours and on Broadway. He is the co-author of several other plays and musical comedies including Island of Lost Coeds, a musical spoof of the low budget sci-fi/horror/jungle movies of the 1950s which he wrote with his Grease collaborator, the late Warren Casey.
Warren Casey (Book, Music and Lyrics) was born in Yonkers, New York and attended Syracuse University. During the late ’50s, he learned all about “greasers” while working as a high school art teacher in upstate New York. He moved to Chicago in 1962, where he hoped to pursue an acting career and appeared in dozens of productions, including creating the role of Bernie Litko in David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago. He supported himself with jobs in retail, including working as an assistant manager of a chain of apparel stores and as a record salesman. As a hobby, he taught himself how to play guitar and began writing songs mostly for the amusement of his friends. Casey acted with the Chicago Stage Guild (where he met Jim Jacobs), the Old Town Players and the Kingston Mines Theatre. The latter company staged the original production of Grease, which he co-wrote with Jim Jacobs. After the incredible success of both the musical and the movie, the two collaborated on Island of Lost Coeds, a musical satire of the B movies of the 1950s. Casey died in 1988.
PJ Paparelli (Director) enters his fourth season as Artistic Director of American Theater Company. His ATC credits include Distracted, Yeast Nation (the triumph of life) the new musical from the writers of Urinetown, Hedwig and the Angry Inch (highest grossing show in ATC history) with About Face Theatre; True West (African American and Caucasian casts) with Congo Square Theatre Company; and the regional premiere of Speech & Debate (Jeff Nomination; TimeOut Chicago & New City Stage’s top 10 productions of 2007). He made New City’s “Top 50 Most Influential Theatre Players in Chicago of 2008.” Last season he co-wrote a play with the legendary Maria Irene Fornes for ATC’s The Silver Project, and has been commissioned to develop a documentary-style theatre piece on Chicago’s Public Housing.
From 2004-08, he was the Artistic Director of Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska. During his tenure, Perseverance expanded its staff, completed a $1.1M facility expansion/renovation and $1M Endowment campaign and sent projects Off-Broadway, to Washington, DC, and around the country. His directing credits include the World Premiere of Yeast Nation, Equus, The Who’s Tommy, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, a collaboration with co-creator Jim Rado on a revised version of Hair, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Voyage, and columbinus. PJ conceived and co-adapted Raven Odyssey, a theatrical journey of Alaska Native Raven stories, gathered through interviews with Elders across the state. Other projects under PJ’s guidance were revised versions of The Laramie Project and The People’s Temple by Members of the Tectonic Theatre Project (went on to The Guthrie Theatre) and Tlingit Macbeth, which presented at the Kennedy Center’s Shakespeare in Washington Festival in 2007.
In 2002, PJ founded the United States Theatre Project, where he conceived, co-wrote, and directed columbinus, which premiered at Round House Theatre and Perseverance, and ran Off-Broadway at NY Theatre Workshop. columbinus was nominated for 2 Lucille Lortel Awards, 5 Helen Hayes Awards, is published by Dramatic Publishing, and has seen over 30 productions around the world.
From 1998-2004, he served as the Associate Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, where his directing credits include Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Love Letters (with Dixie Carter and Hal Holbrook), All’s Well That Ends Well (Classical Acting Conservatory), The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Merchant of Venice at the Shakespeare Free For All, and many plays in the ReDiscovery Series. He was associate director on Much Ado About Nothing starring Karen Ziemba, and The Oedipus Plays starring Avery Brooks at the Athens Festival in Greece. The Washington Post called PJ, “One of the most exciting talents working in Washington.” His DC productions include Romeo and Juliet (The Folger), a collaboration with Terrence McNally on a new version of Corpus Christi at Source Theatre (2003 GLAAD Media Award), The Diaries (Signature) and Love’s Labour’s Lost Washington Shakespeare). Other directing credits include Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Fest/St. Louis), Twelfth Night at Shakespeare Santa Cruz (2005 Newsweek’s Top 5 summer productions), The Merchant of Venice (American Shakespeare Center), Action (Circle Rep) and True West in Russian at the Moscow Art Theatre School. He has worked in education/administration at The Public Theater, Pittsburgh Public, and Circle Rep, and has directed and/or taught Shakespeare at Juilliard, Bread Loaf School of English, NC School of the Arts, UAlaska-SE, UNC (Chapel Hill), Catholic U, UPenn, and Johns Hopkins. He holds a BFA in directing from Carnegie Mellon and graduate studies in acting at the Moscow Art Theatre School. He is a member of the SDC and is represented by Creative Artists Agency.
Jim Corti (Choreographer) has choreographed most recently for productions he has directed at Drury Lane: Aida, Sugar, Cabaret and The Full Monty (Jeff nominated, Water Tower Place) and received a 2008 Jeff Award for directing Sweet Charity and a nomination for Meet Me In St. Louis the same year. Corti garnered a Jeff there as well for choreographing Singin’ In The Rain and for Bill Pullinsi's production at Candlelight. In 2009, with director Frank Galati, he choreographed Michael Smith's The Snow Queen at Victory Gardens and directed Oh Coward! at Writers' Theatre. He choreographed The Goodman's Red Noses, directed by Jeff Steitzer, Kyle Donnelly's Dancing At Lughnasa, (a coproduction with Arena Stage, Helen Hayes Award nom. for Choreography), Bob Fall's Landscape Of The Body (featuring Peggy Roeder) and Steppenwolf's The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice in town and on Broadway. Chicago credits as choreographer also include Falsettos at Wisdom Bridge directed by Jeff Ortmann and City On The Make (adapted from Nelson Algren) directed by Michael Maggio at Northlight Theatre where he received a Jeff for directing Blues In The Night. Corti has appeared on Broadway in Ragtime, A Chorus Line and Candide and in the national tours of Urinetown, Cabaret and Bob Fosse's Dancin’. Jim Corti is the newly appointed Artistic Director of The Paramount Theatre in Aurora.
Roberta Duchak (Music Director) credits include Ragtime (Jeff Award), Spamalot, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Miss Saigon (Jeff nomination) at Drury Lane, The Story of My Life directed by Richard Maltby Jr. (Biograph Theatre), Murder for Two (Chicago Shakespeare), High School Musical, The Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio and Aladdin (Marriott) and The Rocky Horror Show (Mercury Theatre). She was the conductor/pianist for the Midwest premiere of Married Alive (Marriott). As an actress, Roberta has performed in the Broadway company of Ragtime (Mother) and several national tours including playing the Ghost of Christmas Past opposite Richard Chamberlain in Scrooge, Hal Prince's Showboat (Magnolia and Ellie), Rona Lisa Peretti in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in both the Chicago and National Touring companies. As a vocalist, she can be heard on numerous recordings including her debut solo CD entitled Intersections, now available on iTunes! She is also an adjunct faculty member of the Music and Theatre departments at Columbia College in Chicago.
Malcolm Ruhl (Orchestrator & Vocal Arranger) Musical Direction credits: Pump Boys and Dinettes (Jeff nomination) and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Drury Lane Theatre; Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Goodman Theatre; Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Oklahoma! (Jeff nomination) at ATC; Woody Guthrie’s American Song (Jeff award), Blues in the Night (Jeff nomination) and Smoke on the Mountain at Northlight Theatre; Pump Boys and Dinettes at the Apollo and Forum Theatres (Jeff nomination); Grease at Theatre at the Center; big, the Musical and Big River at Apple Tree Theatre; Million Dollar Quartet (Musical Coordinator) at the Apollo Theatre. Malcolm appeared as “Jackson” in the 1982 Broadway production of Pump Boys and Dinettes and in the record-breaking run at Chicago’s Apollo Theatre. Composition credits include music for Holiday Memories at Northlight Theatre, Cicada Dance (Kennedy Center/ACTF awards for original play, music and lyrics), and several choral works published by Final Score Music.
Walt Spangler (Scenic Designer) is delighted to be a part of The Original Grease. Previous designs for PJ Papparelli include the American Theater Company premiere of Yeast Nation. Chicagoans know Walt for his extensive work at The Goodman Theater with Robert Falls. Upcoming in Chicago - Time Stands Still, directed by Austin Pendleton for The Steppenwolf Theater and A Christmas Story the Musical at The Chicago Theater.
Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer) American Theatre Company credits include: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Jeff Award), Yeast Nation (Jeff nomination), Distracted, Augusta, I Do I Do, and Oklahoma!. Off Broadway: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Lortel, Hewes Nomination), The Screwtape Letters (Off Broadway and National Tour), Romulus, and The Hourglass. Regional: Marriott Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Drury Lane, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago Shakespeare, Victory Gardens, Lookingglass Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Fulton Theatre, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, Portland Center Stage, Boars Head Theatre, American Theater Company, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Milwaukee Repertory, Timeline Theatre Company, Noble Fool Theatre, Chicago Dramatist. Resident Lighting Designer for Drury Lane, Route 66 and Chicago Tap Theatre. Jeff award, After Dark award winner. www.jessekluglightingdesign.com
Melissa Torchia (Costume Designer) is thrilled to get to work on such a wonderful show her first time with ATC. Other credits include: Aida (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Peter Pan (Lookingglass), Samuel J and K (Steppenwolf), Not Wanted On The Voyage (American Musical Theatre Project), The Importance of Being Earnest (Remy Bumppo), Abigailʼs Party (Red Orchid), End Days (Next Theatre), Kill The Old,Torture Their Young (Steep Theatre), Bye, Bye, Birdie! (Northwestern University). Ms. Torchia is currently completing her Masters in Costume Design from Northwestern University. In June of 2011 Melissa will be presenting her design work at the Prague Quadrennial, an international scenography conference. Upcoming: The Verona Project (California Shakespeare Theatre).
Miles Polaski (Sound Designer) is a sound designer, composer and musician in Chicago. He has been a company member, sound designer and music curator with 2nd Story for 4 seasons. In 2010 Miles received a Jeff Award for his sound design on Mouse in a Jar with Red Tape Theatre. Miles has had the pleasure of working with many Chicago theatre companies. Favorite past credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - The Gift Theatre; Uncle Vanya - TUTA; Cadillac - Chicago Dramatists; A Christmas Story - Noble Fool; Talk Radio - The Gift Theatre; Dr. Egg - Redmoon; The Hairy Ape - The Hypocrites/Goodman Theatre; Diversey Harbor - Theatre Seven; Bloody Bess - Backstage Theatre; and Of Mice and Men - Steppenwolf Theatre.
Kaity Licina (Hair and Makeup Designer) has been a freelance wig and hair designer in Chicago since 2005. Recent wig design projects include Working (Broadway Playhouse) and Ethan Frome (Lookingglass Theatre). Thanks to Melissa and ATC for the opportunity to work on The Original Grease.
Doug Kupferman (Properties Designer) is thrilled to be working on this amazing production with American Theatre Company. He holds a B.A. in Technical Theatre and Design as well as Psychology from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. Some of his recent props credits include the property design for A Red Orchid Theatre's production of Homer's Iliad and The Mandrake, Stage Left's production of Kingsville, Next Theatre's The Piano Teacher, Congo Square’s The Nativity, and Genesis Theatre’s From Generation to Generation. Before moving to Chicago, a year and half ago, he worked in several props position at theatres around the country including Maine, Colorado, and Arizona. For more information about him and his work please visit Dkupferman.squarespace.com.
Rasean Davonte Johnson (Projections Designer) has been involved with experimental film and theatre for several years. Always excited to use video in interesting and creative ways, he is pleased to be a part of the design team for American Theater Company's new project. A graduate of the Ohio State University he is currently a company member at Collaboraction and creative team member of The Catharsis Junkies, a multimedia performance based design group. Previous ATC credits include Welcome to Arroyo's, The Silver Project and 10x10 Festival. Previous theatre credits include Wreckage and Brutal Imagination (Caffeine Theater), Iphigenia...(a rave fable) (Halcyon Theatre), Trans Form (New Suit Theatre Company) and An Empanada for a Dream (Teatro Vista). Visit http://thecatharsisjunkies.com for examples of work.
Eva Breneman (Dialect Coach) Previous ATC credits: Celebrity Row, Oklahoma, Heritage. Other credits: The Madness of King George (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Do The Hustle, Travels with My Aunt, The Maids, The Puppetmaster of Lodz (Writers’); To Kill a Mockingbird, The Brother/Sister Plays, The Diary of Anne Frank, Huck Finn, Master Harold and the Boys (Steppenwolf); Front Page, In Darfur, To Master the Art, The Farnsworth Invention, The History Boys (Timeline); A Life, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Grey Gardens (Northlight); Ethan Frome, Around the World in 80 Days, Black Diamond, The Old Curiosity Shop (Lookingglass); Carousel (Court); The Voysey Inheritance, Bronte (Remy Bumppo). Off-Broadway: Mamma Mia! (National Tour & Vegas). Regional: Around the World in 80 Days (Centerstage Baltimore & Kansas City Repertory). Television: The Chicago Code (Fox TV); The Beast (A&E Television). Education: The Central School of Speech and Drama, MA; NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, BFA. Eva is an Associate Artist at Timeline, and a Production Affiliate of Lookingglass.
Michael Driscoll (Assistant Director) is a graduate of Illinois State University where he directed The Last Five Years, Rain. Some Fish. No Elephants., selections from Sweeney Todd, Blithe Spirit (GoodLuck Macbeth Theatre Company), and assistant directed Ghosts and The Grey Zone (GoodLuck Macbeth Theatre Company). In Chicago, Michael has directed Flip Flop (About Face Theatre) with Scott Ferguson and assistant directed on the critically acclaimed Oh Coward! (Writers’ Theatre) directed by Jim Corti, The Complete Works… (Abridged) (Illinois Shakespeare Festival) directed by Bill Jenkins and Sunday in the Park with George (Porchlight Music Theatre) directed by L. Walter Stearns. Michael is also the Education Associate at ATC and a freelance teaching artist, having taught for ATC, StageCoach Theatre Arts Schools, and the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance.
Ethan Deppe (Asst. Musical Director & Conductor) Composition (television): 20/20, The Nate Berkus Show, What Would You Do?, PrimeTime ABC. Composition (stage): Keep Ishmael (White Horse Theatre Co.), The Jungle Book (American Eagle) Short Shakespeare! Macbeth! (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). Music Direction: Million Dollar Quartet (Musical Coordinator), Cats (Theo Ubique), I Sing! (Jeff Nom. Music Direction) & The Who's Tommy (White Horse Theatre Co.), The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Cortland Repertory Theatre). Percussion: Altar Boyz (Drury Lane Watertower), The Adding Machine (Next Theatre), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Theatre at the Center), Parade (Bailiwick Repertory). www.ethandeppe.com
Katie Klemme* (Production Stage Manager) ATC credits: Speed-the-Plow & Oleanna (in rotating rep), Distracted, Yeast Nation (the triumph of life), Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Topdog/Underdog & True West (in rotating repertory), The People’s Temple, and The Big Meal (sub). Other recent credits include Spin (Theater Wit); Frozen, Frankie & Johnny in the Claire De Lune, A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking, Rabbit Hole and The Melville Boys (Buffalo Theatre Ensemble); and work as a director with Serendipity's 2nd STORY at various venues around Chicago. She is on the faculty at Loyola University Chicago where she teaches stage management.
Bill Paton* (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to be working at ATC again. Previous ASM credits at ATC include Speech and Debate, Distracted, Welcome to Arroyo’s, The Mamet Rep, and The Big Meal. Other regional credits include Our Lady of the Underpass with Teatro Vista (ASM), Ivanov with SiNNERMAN Ensemble (PSM), God’s Ear and Dead Letter Office with Dog and Pony (TD) and Lovers and Volpone with City Lit (TD).
Amy Szerlong (2nd Assistant Director) is a 2010 graduate of the University of Richmond where she majored in Theatre with a concentration in Arts Management. At Richmond, Amy directed If Men Played Cards as Women Do, Trifles, and Home at Six. She served as the president of the student-run theater organization, the University Players, and in her senior year, was awarded the David C. Evans Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Creative Arts. In Chicago, Amy has worked as the Development Intern at Goodman Theatre and the Assistant to the Artistic Director at American Theater Company. The Original Grease is her first professional directing experience. She would like to thank PJ, Michael Driscoll, Jim Jacobs and Jim Corti for including her in this amazing project. Of course, she also owes great thanks to her family for their overwhelming support.
Matt Hawkins (Fight Choreography) was last scene as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (Writers’ Theatre) and served as the Movement Director for Peter Pan (Lookingglass). Matt is a Founding Member of The House Theatre of Chicago, an Artistic Associate and Resident Director with Strawdog, an Artistic Associate with 500 Clown, the recipient of two Non-Equity Jeff Awards and a graduate of Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.
Michael Accardo* (Vince Fontaine/Officer Maiale/Coach Sakowitz) Chicago credits include, Thenardier in Les Miserables, Roy Johnson in The Light in the Piazza, Once Upon a Time in New Jersey and Married Alive at The Marriott Theatre. Harold Nichols in The Full Monty at Drury Lane Water Tower Place. Anyone Can Whistle and Annie Get Your Gun at The Ravinia Festival, with Patti Lupone. Mike in Working at American Theater Company. Flint in Something’s Afoot, Bill in On Golden Pond, Funny Girl and Anything Goes at Drury Lane Oakbrook. Love to Kristine for her continued love and support. Proud 25 year AEA member. www.michaelaccardo.com
Adrian Aguilar* (Danny Zuko) is thrilled to be a part of this one of a kind production. For the past six years Adrian has worked professionally as an actor, musician, choreographer and music director all over the Chicagoland area. Favorite roles include Ren in Footloose, Al in A Chorus Line, and Pastry Chef #1 opposite his brother in The Drowsy Chaperone. So much love to the cast and creative team of The Original Grease and a huge thank you to all his friends, family and beautiful wife for their love and undying support. www.adrianaguilar.com
Alan Barinholtz (Reunion Eugene Florczyk) A graduate of Ohio State with a BFA in Theatre, Alan returns to the stage after a 30 year hiatus as a trial lawyer. His recent credits include: The Exonerated, Messing With A Friend, Coed Prison Sluts, 2nd Story, Co-producer of This is Our Youth and the highly acclaimed Jordan versus Kaminski. Thanks to Peggy, Ike, Jon and the corgis, Alan has come full circle.
Pat Christenson (Reunion Marty) recently moved to Chicago and was quickly cast in the premier of Scared Shitless (Blatant Testimony Productions). Prior to that, she worked with numerous theaters in the San Francisco area and appeared in A New Brain, Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding, Nunsense, 42nd Street, The Female Odd Couple, Ruthless!, Follies and Nine. Pat is also a cabaret singer, podcaster (Look At His Butt!) and voiceover artist. Keep up with Pat at www.patonstage.com.
Tony Clarno* (Kenickie) is thrilled to be making his ATC debut. Chicago Credits: Billy Elliot (Oriental Theater), Aladdin (Chicago Shakes) and Stupid Kids (About Face Theater). Regional Credits: Third and Pygmaillion (Guthrie Theater), West Side Story (Portland Center Stage), Winter’s Tale and Midsummer Night’s Dream (Great River Shakes), The Drawer Boy (Jungle Theater) and The Crucible (Pittsburgh Public). He would like to thank the love of his life, Bridgette.
Rob Colletti (Roger) is honored to be making his ATC debut. Recent credits include: 100% Rocketships (Second City), Seussical The Musical (Circle Theatre) and Blithe Spirit (GLMTP). He worked as an intern for Graceland (Profiles Theatre - Jeff Award Best New Work) and received an Irene Ryan Nomination (Best Actor) in 2006. He just received his B.A. in Acting from Columbia College where he starred in such productions as The Shape of Things, Of Mice and Men and Edmond. Thanks to everyone at ATC, his friends, family, and Stewart Talent.
Bryan Conner (Johnny Casino/Teen Angel) is thrilled to be a part of this incredible project. He is originally from Cedar Rapids, IA and moved to Chicago to attend Roosevelt University. Regionally, Bryan was recently in Hairspray and Peter Pan at Idaho Summer Repertory Theatre. When he's not on stage, he can be found at Hubbard Street Dance Center where he works as an intern with the youth program. He wants to thanks his amazing family for their love and support and his friend Adam for continually inspiring him to push his musical boundaries. Enrich your World!
Danon Dastugue (Reunion Jan) was last seen in Red Herring at Noble Fool Theatricals and in Provision Theatre’s The Hiding Place (Jeff Recommended). Previous productions in Chicago, New Orleans and Los Angeles include Love in the Middle Ages, Posthumorous, The Wake, The Exonerated, Criminal Hearts, Tony ‘N Tina’s Wedding and A Streetcar Named Desire.
Patrick De Nicola (Sonny) is friggin' excited, like you wouldn't friggin' believe, to be working with ATC for the first friggin' time! Other friggin' Chicago credits include: Anthony/Bobby Fuller in Chicago Children's Theatre's World Premier of Jackie and Me, Henry/Paul in The Ruby Sunrise (Theatre on the Lake & The Gift Theatre), Pete in Almost Maine (The Gift Theatre), Collaboraction’s Sketchbook 9, Felix in Memory (Backstage Theatre Co) and Boy in Edward Albee's The Play About the Baby (Backstage Theatre Co). Patrick is a graduate of Second City where he became a founding member of the Indy comedy troupe Shoelace Academy. He's also a co-creator of the Internet hit Brokeback to the Future (Look for it on Youtube!). Love and thanks to his family, his pisans, the beautiful Annie, his Shoelacers, everyone at ATC, and Gray Talent Inc. Patrick is a graduate of Emerson College (Boston, MA) with a BFA in Acting and a BA in friggin' Film.
Jessica Diaz* (Rizzo) After spending the last year sitting behind a desk, Jessica is ecstatic to be getting back to using her BFA from Syracuse University in musical theatre. Her next venture will be attending NYU’s graduate program for performing Arts Admin in the fall. Theatre credits: West Side Story, Chicago, and Smokey Joes' Cafe. TV and film credits: Days of Our Lives and the feature film Valley of Angels, opposite Danny Trejo. She would like to thank the creative team and most of all her Mom for always giving her unending support.
Susan Fay (Reunion Patricia Simcox Honeywell) recently moved to Chicago from Hartford, CT and is tickled pink to be making her ATC debut. In Hartford she appeared in Night of the Iguana at Hartford Stage Co. and in The Exonerated with TheatreWorks. Since arriving in Chicago, Susan has worked at Victory Gardens Theatre (Jacob and Jack), Northlight (A Life), Theo Ubique (The Lady's Not for Burning) and Court Theatre (Three Tall Women). Other stage credits include roles in The House of Blue Leaves, Hay Fever, Marvin's Room and Crimes of the Heart. She was featured in the films Mr. Art Critic with Bronson Pinchot and Topa Topa Bluffs, directed by Eric Simonson. Susan has a BA in Literature from Wheaton College and a MA in Dance from Northwestern University. She taught dance for many years and brought up three children before taking to the stage.
Jessie Fisher (Frenchy) is thrilled to be part of The Original Grease! Past credits include It’s a Wonderful Life (ATC and Fox Valley Rep.), Cabaret, Frankenstein (the Hypocrites), Of Mice and Men (Steppenwolf), These Shining Lives (Rivendell), Some Girl(s), The Wonderful World of Dissocia, Graceland (Profiles), and My Name is Rachel Corrie (Purple Bench). She is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf and is proud to be a teacher for Black Box Acting Studios.
Hannah Gomez (Cha-Cha DiGregorio) is grateful to return to American Theater Co. where she participated in The Silver Project and understudied for Distracted. Some other credits include The Magic Ofrenda, Teatro Luna’s Sexoh, and About Face Youth Theatre’s Fast Forward. In addition, she sometimes does improv. She studied at iO and is an alumnus of Illinois State University. She’s a native Texan and thanks the production team, her supportive family, and Maggie the dog.
Anthony Dale Kolton (Reunion Roger/Clyde) has studied acting at Second City in Chicago and has performed at several standup events. He was a contestant on Deal or No Deal where his episode became one of the highest rated and acclaimed episodes of all-time. It was initially run on Sunday night against 60 minutes and then rerun 7 times. With the success of this episode, he was brought back to star in his own "roadshow" followup tour of Chicago with the NBC producers. Tony has also been on multiple TV business networks such as CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox and CNN as an expert business commentator.
Tom Lally (Reunion Kenickie/The Old Bum/Jan’s Father) is thrilled to be performing with American Theater Company in The Original Grease. Recently, his stage roles have included, Henry, in the Artistic Home’s, Trouble in Mind, Charles Cheswick, in The Gift Theatre Company’s, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, The Surly Man, in RedTwist Theatre Company’s Lettuce and Loveage. Commercial work includes, MADD, Sears, The Chicago Tribune and more. Love to Marssie.
Alaina Mills (Patty Simcox) is thrilled to be making her Chicago debut at ATC! NY: Carner and Gregor’s Barely Legal Extravaganza. Regional: Seussical and Damn Yankees (Weston Playhouse); Sleeping Beauty (Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati); A Christmas Carol and Finer Noble Gases (ATL-Humana Fest.). Other favorites: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (CEA for Best Actress in Musical); Peter Pan; Wizard of Oz. BFA in Musical Theatre from CCM where she appeared as Eva Peron in Evita, Lucetta in Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Actress in Hello Again, among others. Much love to Mom, Dad, Abbey and Joseph, and Jonathan!
Tyler Ravelson (Miller) is excited to return to American Theater Company after having been a part of It's A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play this past holiday season. Other Chicago credits are Girls Vs. Boys with The House Theatre, Talk Radio with State Theatre of Chicago, and The Hundred Dresses with Chicago Children's Theatre. This past autumn he was in Twelve Angry Men at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter, Florida, under the direction of Frank Galati. A Massachusetts native, he graduated from Roosevelt University's Musical Theatre BFA program in 2009. Love to M, D, K, N, and you too.
Sadieh Rifai*+ (Jan) is very thankful to be a part of The Original Grease. She has been an ensemble member at American Theater Company since 2008 and has appeared at ATC in Welcome to Arroyo's, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Distracted and Speech and Debate for which she won an After Dark Award for outstanding performance. Sadieh was most recently seen in The Piano Teacher at Next theatre. Other Chicago credits include understudying the role of Johnna Monevata in August:Osage County (Steppenwolf Theatre) Ski Dubai (Steppenwolf Theatre First Look) and Merchant on Venice (Silk Road Theatre). Sadieh is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf. She is very proud to be a part of the film The Wise Kids being released this fall and the new mockumentary comedy series Bad Sides www.badsides.com. This coming fall you can catch Sadieh in The Amish Project a one woman show at ATC in which she'll play 15 characters. Sadieh would like to thank mom, Adal and Dan for all their love and support.
Peggy Roeder* (Miss Mildred Lynch) just finished the successful run of The Big Meal here at ATC. Other Chicago credits include FLOAT at About Face, Capote’s Holiday Stories at Provision Theatre, Busy World is Hushed at Next, The Dresser at Steppenwolf, Barefoot in the Park at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Uncle Vanya at Court, How Can You Run With A Shell? and Kabuki Lady Macbeth at Chicago Shakespeare, Trip to Bountiful at Goodman, and Indian Ink at Apple Tree. Her work in Chicago theatre has garnered her four Jeff Awards, three Artisan Awards, and two After Dark Awards. Other theatre credits include Cabaret, A Little Night Music and Over the Tavern at Peninsula Players, Cider House Rules at Atlantic Theatre Company and Mark Taper Forum, and Clean House at Milwaukee Rep. Her film work includes Road to Perdition, Stranger Than Fiction, Groundhog Day, Were The World Mine, Eagle Eye, The Lakehouse, Baby on Board, and In Memoriam. On television she has been seen on Law & Order, E.R., Star Trek:DS9, Pennsylvania Miners Movie, Prison Break and All My Children. Peggy has sung in concert at Ravinia and the Chicago Humanities Festival, and can be heard on both Second City Divas CDs. Peggy is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
Carol Rose (Marty) is so proud to be a part of this original production and to be making her ATC debut. She is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University (BFA in Musical Theatre). Recent credits include The 25th Annual…Spelling Bee (Rona), Urinetown (Hope Cladwell), Children of Eden (Yonah). Carol has worked for companies such as Circle Theatre, Chicago Kids Company, Royal Caribbean Productions and Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. She would like to dedicate this show to her Grandmother’s memory. *BD*
Judi Schindler (Reunion Frenchy) is thrilled to make her debut with ATC. A well known public relations consultant for many years, she began acting in 2008 and has since been seen in such productions as Grapes of Wrath with Infamous Commonwealth, How I Learned to Drive with Oak Park Village Players and Horrible with Hobo Junction Theatre as well a number of student films and regional commercials. She is grateful to family, friends, acting coaches and Gray Talent Group for their support.
Mark Shallow (Reunion Doody/Wally) Many thanks to PJ and the whole ATC gang for the opportunity to be a part of The Original Grease. Previously, Mark appeared in A Doll’s House (Infamous Commonwealth Theatre), On Golden Pond and The Miracle Worker (Lincoln Square Theatre), The Bay at Nice (Vitalist Theatre), Equus (Red Twist Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest (North Lakeside Players), The Runner Stumbles (Halcyon Theatre), The Sum of Her Parts (The Side Project), Sylvia (Tin Fish Theatre), Execution of Justice (Hyperworld Theatre) and many others.
Adam Shalzi (Eugene Florczyk) attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned a BFA in Acting. Theatre credits include Strawdog, Next, Profiles, Redtwist, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and a Canada tour with the Australian show Dr. Egg and the Man with No Ear. Adam has a role in the Unified Pictures film, Janie Jones, and has worked on many Chicago independent films. He is a member of the Playground’s improv team, K.C. Redheart, and has studied at The Second City and Annoyance. Gracious thanks to his family and friends for their love and support.
Bubba Weiler (Doody) making his American Theater Company debut. Chicago credits include To Kill a Mockingbird (Steppenwolf Theatre); A Guide for the Perplexed, A Park in Our House, and I Sailed with Magellan (Victory Gardens Theater); Graceland (Profiles Theater); Picnic (Writers’ Theatre); Hecuba (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Oliver! (Marriott Theatre); Dandelion Wine (Chicago Children’s Theater); Candles to the Sun (Eclipse Theater); Talking Pictures and The Actor (Goodman Theatre). New York stage credits include The Burnt Part Boys (Vineyard Theatre). Bubba’s film credits include America, Hidden Hearts, Tinsel, Educating Cooper, and Salvaging.
Kelly Davis Wilson (Sandy Dumbroski) is thrilled to be making her debut at ATC! She is a recent graduate from The Theatre School at DePaul University, where credits include Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac, Soupy Sue in Urinetown, and Louise in After the End. You can also catch Kelly as Juliet in Glass Onion's Romeo & Juliet, playing through the beginning of May. She'd like to especially thank her family, friends, Mark Elliott, and Gray Talent Group.
Letter from PJ
Welcome to American Theater Company and the 40th Anniversary restoration of The Original Grease.
No other piece of American theater has had more cultural impact than Grease. It is the world’s most produced musical. It is one of the longest running Broadway musicals. It is the highest grossing movie musical of all time. However, for all of its global influence, Grease traces its origin back to a small Chicago theater, just like ATC, and a Chicago neighborhood not far from yours.
At a late-night theater party in early 1970, Chicago actors Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey joked about putting together a play about teenagers with a whole bunch of early rock ‘n’ roll music, which, at the time, had succumbed to the psychedelic grooves of The Doors and The Grateful Dead. Warren laughed at the suggestion, “What would it be about?” Jim said, “The kids I grew up with on the Northwest Side: crazy-ass delinquents and all the antics we pulled in the old Neighborhood. It would be called ‘grease’. “Grease?!” chuckled Warren. “You know, everything was greasy back then,” said Jim, “greasy hair, greasy food, the guys all had it all over them from being under the hood of a car.” And unlike the thousands of ideas that theater artists drum up when they are two sheets to the wind, Jim and Warren actually did it. June Pyskacek, the artistic director of the former Kingston Mines Theatre Company (a mile south of ATC on Lincoln Avenue) heard a song or two and gave the boys a slot in her season for the show to run for only one weekend. It opened in January of 1971 and ran for eight months. The rest is history…
From its inception, Grease was all about Chicago. Jim told a story of growing up in one of the city’s many working-class neighborhoods; home to Italian, Polish and Irish first or second-generation families. The characters were inspired by his high school cronies: a group of teenagers called the Canale Boys and The Pink Ladies from Taft High School, his Alma Mater. They smoked Lucky Strikes, hung out at Parse’s Hot Dogs, drank in the Cook County Forest Preserve and summered at Foster Beach on Lake Michigan. Their parents worked at factories and eventually they would too, if they didn’t end up getting drafted for The Vietnam Conflict four or five years later. They worshipped rock ‘n’ roll: Elvis, Bill Haley, The Coasters and Chuck Berry. Rock and Roll music not only became the voice of Greasers, but the voice of an entire generation. All of these events happened in 1959; a milestone year in American history, perhaps, it was the last year of our innocence.
Over the last two years, Jim and I have reconstructed this original version of Grease to restore a unique community of working-class Chicagoans to this iconic musical. In all my conversations with Jim, his classmates and other Chicagoans from the Northwest Side, these nostalgic years all distill down to the community. These greasers built indestructible relationships that were forged through grammar and high school, neighborhood politics, ethnic diversity and family ties. Like all teenagers, they searched for their identity. For these Chicago youth, their identity was defined on the outside by their grease, but from the inside by their loyalty and friendship to each other. Last fall, I had the privilege of attending the Taft High School Class of 1960 Fiftieth Year Reunion. After 50 years, these friendships have stood the test of time. As I laughed at their crazy tales, their creative metaphors and their collective nostalgia, I was reminded of my own high school days and the desire to belong, especially in an ever-shifting world of splintered families and fractured communities.
On behalf of our board, staff and ensemble at American Theater Company, I hope that this landmark production of The Original Grease defines us as a theater company. If you have fun tonight in our intimate space, I invite you to join our family. We promise that we will continue to present unique theatrical events that push the boundaries of our little space and give you an experience that you cannot get anywhere else in Chicago.
So…for the first time in 40 years, enjoy The Original Grease: back home in Chicago where it all began.
Your Artistic Director,
"Grease" gets back its original Chicago grit — and goes back to Taft High School
No-stone-unturned casting process for "The Original Grease"
"No one got the ending"
"Grease" is dirtier than you think
Original Grease to return to Chicago