Written by Chicago playwrights Tim Clue and Spike Manton, and directed by Clue, the new production follows the 2004 world premiere by the Purple Rose Theatre Company in Michigan and a production at Theatre Building Chicago in 2005. Manton told Playbill.com that recent audiences have included everyone from kids to grandparents. The production, he said, speaks to common hopes and experiences of anyone who might have taken a road trip with their family.
The Royal George run has been extended to July 2. The 200-seat Royal George Cabaret is at 1641 N. Halsted Avenue in Chicago. Previews began April 7.
Leaving Iowa "is a warm and nostalgic comedy about a middle-aged writer searching for the perfect spot to scatter his father's ashes," according to the producers. "Along the way, he relives the summer vacations he spent traveling in the family station wagon as a young boy in Winterset, Iowa."
The family-friendly show features an original musical score by Bruce Roper of the popular Chicago folk trio Sons of the Never Wrong. The concept of the work was for it to be a play with Sons of the Never Wrong music, although that idea wasn't adopted by Purple Rose. Music is restored in this production.
The cast of the Equity production includes Brad Armacost, Kelly Cooper, Denise Blank, Brian McCartney and Barb Wengerd. The designers are Grant Sabin, (set) and Ben Wilhelm (lights) and Sharon Sanders (costumes).
Leaving Iowa had its world premiere at Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, MI, in January 2004. It was nominated for Best New Play 2004 by The Detroit Free Press. It was followed by the Chicago premiere in 2005 at Theatre Building Chicago. An earlier workshop was presented in 2003.
Concurrent with the Chicago run, a non-Equity touring production is ongoing, making stops at Des Moines at the Temple Theatre, Madison's Overture Center and Milwaukee's Marcus Center. A stop at Saint Paul's Ordway Center may follow.
"We are so excited to bring this show back to Chicago because of our commitment to sharing the story of this very funny American journey to audiences of all ages," Manton said in production notes. "Chicagoans may be able to see a little bit of themselves—and their families—in these characters. These are people we all know and love and the story is something that all generations will recognize and appreciate. These are the reasons this show has been praised by critics and has sold out to audiences across the Midwest."
Clue added, "The spark behind the play comes from parents who were members of the 'Greatest Generation.' Leaving Iowa is an homage to their idealism and character."
Tim Clue (director/playwright/producer) began his career in stand-up comedy and, in 1991, established Short Story Theatre, which combines short fiction adaptations with documentary footage.
Spike Manton (playwright/producer) moved to Chicago after graduating from Bradley University and began his career in stand-up comedy. His stand-up work led to cable television appearances and, ultimately, a career in radio. Over the past 10 years, Spike has been on "The Steve Dahl Show," ESPN Radio and the LOOP. Along the way, he formed a Chicago based production company, now based in Chicago with Tim Clue.
Tickets for Leaving Iowa, priced from $37-$42, are currently on sale through July 2, and are available by phone at (312) 988-9000 or at the Royal George box office.
Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more by contacting Group Theater Tix at (312) 423-6612 or visiting www.grouptheatertix.com.
For more information, visit www.leavingiowa.com.