The Radio Plays
PJ Paparelli (Director / Artistic Director) enters his seventh season as Artistic Director of American Theater Company. His ATC directing credits include The Catholic Rep: Doubt and Agnes of God, The Original Grease (2011 Jeff Award for Best Musical), Escape, The Amish Project, Distracted, Yeast Nation (the triumph of life) the new musical from the writers of Urinetown, Hedwig and the Angry Inch 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 & 2010.” For ATC’s 25th Anniversary, he co-wrote a play with the legendary Maria Irene Fornes for ATC’s The Silver Project. PJ is currently developing a documentary-style theatre piece on Chicago’s Public Housing, which was recently workshopped at The Orchard Project.
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 50 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). He spent the winter in Washington DC directing The Two Gentlemen of Verona for the STC’s 25thAnniversary.
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), A ction (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.
Austin Cook (Composer/Music Director) is thrilled to be a part in recreating the golden age of radio! Favorite acting credits: 1st National Tour Million Dollar Quartet (Jerry Lee Lewis, tour music director), Putting It Together (music director, Man 4) (Jeff Award Nomination Music Direction), Some Enchanted Evening (music director/pianist)* (Jeff Award Music Direction). Hank Williams: Lost Highway (Hoss), Favorite Music Director credits: 1st National Tour Million Dollar Quartet, Rooms: A Rock Romance, Porchlight Theatre, Second City, Walt Disney Entertainment. Music Producer credits: John Michael Presney, Billy Woodward & The Senders, Yuleberrys & Friends, Cody Slaughter. Austin's work has been heard across the country as a performer, producer, musician and music director. Thank you to Adrienne for all her love and support!
Tom Burch (Scene Designer) For the last decade, Tom was a Chicago-based designer with credits ranging from Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Court to Reverie, Bailiwick, Apple Tree, and other companies that no longer exist. Favorites include several collaborations with Sean Graney at The Hypocrites (Seven Sicknesses, No Exit, The Hairy Ape, among others); several at Northlight, including The Good War, Sense and Sensibility, and Ten Chimneys; A Steady Rain at Chicago Dramatists, and many others. He received 3 After Dark Awards and 4 Jeff nominations (1 win) for his work here. He's designed regionally at places like Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Play House, Milwaukee Rep, Arizona Theatre Co, and many others, including a stint off-Broadway with the New York transfer of A Red Orchid's Mistakes Were Made. He now teaches Scenic Design in the Theatre Arts Program at Ithaca College. His work can be seen online at www.tomburch.com. Tom is grateful to the Chicago theatre scene, and to you for supporting the arts.
Stephanie Cluggish (Costume Designer) having recently completed coursework for the MFA Stage Design program at Northwestern University, Stephanie is glad to be a new member of this holiday tradition with ATC. Recent design credits include The Wedding Singer with Haven Theater, a new production of The Magic Flute (Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara CA); How To End Poverty in 90 Minutes... with Sojourn Theater's Michael Rohd (Northwestern University); and The Internationalist and The Drunken City at the Steppenwolf Garage as part of the Next Up Series. More of her work can be seen at: stephanie-cluggish.squarespace.com
Mac Vaughey (Lighting Design) is a Chicago-based lighting designer. Recent credits include work with Victory Gardens, Bailiwick Chicago, Renaissance Theatreworks (Milwaukee), The Piven Theatre Workshop, Teatro Vista, Urban Theatre, Sideshow Theatre, Premiere Theatre & Performance, Teatro Luna, Porchlight Music Theatre, Steppenwolf and Chicago Shakespeare. Mr. Vaughey is the resident lighting designer at the 16th Street Theatre in Berwyn and an associate artist with Teatro Luna and Premiere Theatre & Performance. Mr. Vaughey is also the Master Electrician here at American Theater Company as well as Timeline Theatre, Northwestern University School of Music, and Light Opera Works. Additionally, Mr. Vaughey is the Outreach Director and Development Director for Studio BE, a non-profit performing arts training and development center in the Lakeview neighborhood.
Erin Albrecht* (Stage Manager) is is a brand new member of the Chicago theatre community and thrilled to manage her first show at ATC. As a former Resident Stage Manager at The Pearl Theatre Company in NYC, she managed productions such as In Acting Shakespeare, The Philanderer, The Bald Soprano, Wittenberg and recently the workshop of Terrance McNally’s newest play And Away We Go. Other Off Broadway theaters include: New York Classical Theatre, Friendly Fire, The West Side Theatre. Regional Theatres: American Players Theatre, The Utah Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Phoenix Theatre, Quest Visual Theatre, Bard Summerscape, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, among others. Erin holds a Bachelor of Music from The Catholic University of America and a MFA in Stage Management from Virginia Tech. She is a proud member of The Actor’s Equity Association.
Josh Jaeger (Assistant Director) served as the 11/12 Artistic Programs Fellow at ATC. During that time, he co-produced the 10X10 and Big Shoulders festivals of new short plays. Most recently, Joshua assisted in producing "The After Party" a late-night series presented alongside Steppenwolf's Garage Rep. He is currently collaborating with ATC's Artistic Director, PJ Paparelli, on The Project(s), a commissioned docu-play about Chicago's public housing.
Will Allan* (George Bailey ) returns to ATC after being seen in Speech & Debate this past summer. Other recent credits include The Whale at Victory Gardens; Good People (2013 Jeff for Best Play) and The March at Steppenwolf; Red at the Human Race Theatre Co. in Dayton, Ohio; Dartmoor Prison and The Seagull at the Goodman; The Goat Or, Who is Sylvia? at Remy Bumppo (2011 Jeff for Best Play); and The History Boys at TimeLine (2009 Jeff for Best Play and Ensemble). He has also worked with First Folio Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, Redtwist Theatre, and Chicago Children's Theatre. He is a graduate of North Central College, the Moscow Art Theatre School, and is an Associate Artist with TimeLine Theatre.
Mary Hollis Inboden (Violet Bick / Mrs. Welsh, Zuzu / Others ) is making her ATC debut! A founding member of The New Colony, she helped to create and starred in critically-acclaimed hits such as The Warriors, Calls to Blood (NYC Fringe Fest Award Winner, 2010) and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche (currently running off- Broadway at The Soho Playhouse and available in print from Samuel French, Inc). Mary Hollis was voted Best Local Actress by the Chicago Reader in the 2011 "Best of" Issue and made her television debut on The Chicago Code. She went on to appear regularly as "Jackie Shope" on Boss, starring Kelsey Grammer, for Starz/Lionsgate TV. A proud Chicago resident, she enjoys supporting network and independent series produced in "the second city," appearing in viral favorites such as Funemployed and Kam Kardashian. Howie Johnson (Uncle Billy / Bert / Mr. Bailey ) is excited to be here at ATC. His most recent shows include Illegal Use Of Hands at American Blues, Sweet Confinement at SiNNERMAN, and Killer Joe at Profiles. Most recent television work includes roles on Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Betrayal.
Patrick Martin (Announcer / Joseph / Sam Wainwright / Others) is a Chicago based actor and musician. Chicago Credits: South Pacific and Joseph. . . Dreamcoat! for Young Audiences at the Marriott Theatre, Merrily We Roll Along, Fugitive Songs, and Lucky Stiff at The Music Theatre Company, All the Fame of Lofty Deeds and Girls vs Boys at The House Theatre of Chicago. Other Regional Credits: The Drowsy Chaperone and Promises, Promises at STAGES St. Louis, David Bell’s CALL MY NAME at the 2012 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, The Little Theatre on the Square Christmas Spectacular at LTOTS.
Mike Nussbaum* (Clarence / Mr. Potter / Mr. Gower / Others ) has directed and acted in Chicago Theatres for more than fifty years, originating roles in David Mamet’s: American Buffalo, Life in the Theatre, Glengarry GlenRoss, and others. He appeared in the Peter Brook production of The Cherry Orchard, which opened in New York and toured Russia and Japan. He has worked on and off-Broadway, and in Dublin, Vancouver, The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England, and theatres across the United States including: Hartford Stage, Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theatre Club, Atlantic Theater Company, Theatre J, and the Mark Taper Forum. Shakespeare roles include: Polonius, Shylock, Friar Lawrence, and John of Gaunt at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Films include: House of Games, Fatal Attraction, Field of Dreams, and Men in Black. His work has been honored with an Emmy and a Drama Desk Award, and by the Jefferson Committee, DePaul University, The Illinois Legent Award, The University Club of Chicago, and the Sarah Siddons Society. He recently appeared as Freud in the long-running Freud’s Last Session at The Mercury Theater in Chicago, as Lord Suffolk in Chicago Shakespeare’s production of Henry VIII, and as the Colonial and Johnny in The Goodman’s production of Noah Haidle’s Smokefall.
Cheryl Parkes (Pianist) holds a Bachelors of Music in composition from DePaul University School of Music where she studied piano with Aglika Angelova and composition with Juan Campoverde and Kurt Westerberg. A pianist of almost 25 years, she is an experienced chamber musician, accompanist, and freelance performer in Chicago. She is an active performer of contemporary music and is a founding member of the DePaul New Music Ensemble where she performed the Chicago Premier of Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians in 2007. Previous theatre appearances include It’s A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play with American Theatre Company (‘08, ‘09, ‘10); Bingo The Musical at The Apollo Theatre; Babes in Hollywood: The Music of Garland and Rooney and The Wiz at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center; Enter Love with Quest Theatre Ensemble. You can also see her performing throughout Chicago as an original member of the chamber music project, Classical Revolution, as well the pianist for the instrumental-rock band, Cruciforms. In addition to her performing experience, Cheryl is an award-winning composer at the state and national levels.
Tyler Ravelson+ (Harry Bailey / Ernie / Mr. Martini / Others ) happily returns to WATC for the third time. Tyler is an ATC Ensemble Member. Additional credits with ATC include columbinus, It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play, The Original Grease (Jeff Award: Best Musical) and Rent. Other Chicago credits include Sweet Bird of Youth at The Goodman Theatre; Girls Vs. Boys and The Nutcracker at The House Theatre, Talk Radio at State Theatre Chicago, The Hundred Dresses at Chicago Children’s Theatre and The Pajama Game at Music Theatre. TV credits include Chicago Fire. Regional credits include Frank Galati’s production of Twelve Angry Men at The Maltz Jupiter Theater in Florida. Tyler is a 2009 B.F.A. graduate of Roosevelt University’s Theatre Conservatory. Love to M, D, K, N, and you too.
Mitchell Reid (Station Manager) is a recent graduate from the University of Oklahoma. Since then, Mitchell Reid has appeared in a variety of stage productions, performing in everything from Shakespeare to contemporary musicals, from as far south as his hometown of Dallas, TX all the way to Michigan City, IN. While in Indiana, Mitchell visited Chicago frequently and decided to make it his new home. Recent stage roles include Berowne, Loves Labour’s Lost; Dr. Carrasco, Man of La Mancha; and Chip, 25th Spelling Bee. Mitchell is joining American Theater Company for the first time, marking his debut on the Chicago stage.
Sadieh Rifai*+ (Mary Hatch / Mrs. Bailey ) is an Ensemble Member at American Theater Company where she has performed in: columbinus, The Catholic Repertory: Doubt & Agnes of God, The Amish Project, The Original Grease, Welcome to Arroyo’s, Hedwig and the Angry Itch, Distracted, and Speech & Debate for which she won an After Dark Award for Outstanding Performance. Other credits include The Piano Teacher [Next Theater], Merchant on Venice [Silk Road Theatre], Ski Dubai [Steppenwolf Theatre First Look] and understudying the role of Johnna Monevta in August: Osage County [Steppenwolf Theatre]. Sadieh is a graduate of The School of Steppenwolf. Film credits include: the award-winning The Wise Kids [New Fest, Out Fest, and NYC LGBT Film Festival] and the feature film Nate and Margaret. She’s also a recurring character in the mockumentary Bad Sides, which was recently a finalist in the Chicago Comedy TV Pilot Competition. Sadieh was most recently awarded the Princess Grace Theatre Award. Thank you to Mom and Adal.
Mark Yacullo (Assistant Station Manager/Male Understudy) honored and excited to be in his first production with American Theater Company and his first production in Chicago. He is a Sophomore Musical Theatre major at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. His most recent roles at North Central have included playing Solomon in Speech & Debate, Christian in A Story of Us and Ralph in Kiss Me Kate. Mark would like to thank PJ for giving him this amazing opportunity, Carin Silkaitis for being an awesome acting teacher and his family and friends for all their love and support. Enjoy the show!
Steven Yaussi (Sound Designer/Foley Artist) Recent designs include: columbinus (ATC - Tour Engineer); Living Large... (Teatro Luna, 16th Street Theatre - Sound Design); Music Man (Stepping Stone Players - Light Design); Les Miserables (Studio BE - Sound Design); Crossed (Teatro Luna - Sound Design); and Mark Twain's: A Murder, A Mystery, A Marriage (Wayside Theatre - Musician). A graduate of University of Evansville, Steven was also a national finalist in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for his sound design of The House of Blue Leaves.
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers.
+ Ensemble Member of American Theater Company.
Letter from PJ
Welcome to American Theater Company and our twelfth year of It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play.
Six years ago this month, I became the artistic director of American Theater Company. About a week after my arrival, the company began rehearsals for It’s a Wonderful Life. Prior to ATC, I had never been a fan of theaters doing holiday plays. I always believed that a theater has so few opportunities to produce important plays, why waste one precious slot on a holiday show? But then I saw It’s a Wonderful Life. Immediately I felt in my heart the importance of this story, especially around the holidays. This truly American story reminds us, once a year, to look around us and appreciate those things we often take for granted. As theatre is an opportunity for the community to gather together to reflect on itself, what better story could we tell to rekindle our faith in each other?
While over the years, I have watched from the wings, this year I wanted to direct the production. If you are not a subscription member of ATC, then you will miss our Members Only performances of The Wizard of Oz: The Radio Play. After a week of rehearsals putting The Wizard of Oz together, I had the great pleasure of getting to know this extraordinary cast. Like in the days of repertory theatre long ago, I enjoyed the rare experience of watching this company of actors transform themselves from the mythic characters of Oz to the familiar inhabitants of small-town America. We all enjoyed exploring new Foley sounds, diving into the psychology of these characters, and revisiting the original movie script to add new material. It was a joy from start to finish!
In early February, ATC will present the Chicago premiere of the Pulitzer-nominated play, Sons of the Prophet by Stephen Karam (writer of columbinus, Speech & Debate). The play tells another story about a working class family in small town America. This time, the town is Scranton, Pennsylvania (which happens to be both Stephen’s and my hometown). If you loved The Big Meal, I think you will enjoy this wonderful new play about family, love, and loss.
We hope you will enjoy It’s a Wonderful Life. From all of us at American Theater Company, Happy Holidays! We are so glad you are here.
Your Artistic Director,