Filling Station Is Neighborhood Hangout in Goodman World Premiere Gas for Less

News   Filling Station Is Neighborhood Hangout in Goodman World Premiere Gas for Less
 
The world premiere of Gas For Less by Brett Neveu fills Goodman Theatre's intimate Owen Bruner Theatre May 24-June 22. Dexter Bullard directs the drama set in a gas station on Chicago's North Side.
Robert Breuler and Ernest Perry, Jr. in rehearsal.
Robert Breuler and Ernest Perry, Jr. in rehearsal. Photo by Michael Brosilow

The cast — inhabiting a pump station called "Gas for Less" — includes Kareem Bandealy, Robert Breuler, Nathan Davis, Rian Jairell and Ernest Perry Jr.

Originally commissioned by Northlight Theatre and included in the Goodman's 2007 New Stages Series, Gas For Less "explores issues of generational conflict and urban evolution as seen through the eyes and experiences of five memorable denizens of the community."

Opening is June 2 at the Goodman in Chicago.

Goodman artistic director Robert Falls said in a statement, "Gas For Less is a poignant Chicago story containing all of the elements that have earned Brett rave reviews from critics and audiences alike: fascinating characters, savage wit and humor, and dramatic situations which are both immediately recognizable and dramatically resonant. I've wanted to bring this young writer to the Goodman for a long time, and I'm thrilled that he has chosen Dexter Bullard — who counts among his directorial successes Tracey Letts' play Bug, which received extraordinary acclaim both in Chicago and New York — to direct this world premiere production."

According to Goodman notes, "Gas For Less is more than a gas station to Anthony (Rian Jairell) and his tough Croatian grandfather, Art (Robert Brueler). Their family business was once a rowdy North Side Chicago hangout where neighbors from all walks of life — African American, Puerto Rican, Croatian and Pakistani — came together to watch the Bears over coffee and Camel cigarettes. But the neighborhood is changing and gentrification threatens small mom-and-pop shops. Now the pumps are out, the coffee is burnt and the customers are scarce. And things only get worse when a sudden act of violence occurs at the station. The daunting question becomes: can the gas station be saved — and is it even worth saving?" Playwright Neveu drew his inspiration for the play from real-life Chicagoan Phil Berman, and his North Side gas station of the same name, formerly located at Lincoln and Berteau Avenues. "That station represented Chicago to me, and now it's gone," the writer said.

Neveu is currently at work on commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club and the Royal Court Theatre; past commissions include Goodman Theatre's Ofner Prize, which resulted in Heritage (2004 New Stages Series), and he has been commissioned twice by Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His work has been produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company (Eric LaRue) and Off-Broadway (Eagle Hills, Eagle Ridge, Eagle Landing; twentyone at Spring Theatreworks and The Last Barbecue at 29th Street Rep). In Chicago, he is an ensemble member of A Red Orchid Theatre (Weapons of Mass Impact; Eric LaRue; The Meek; The Earl; 4 Murders) and has had his work produced by American Theatre Company (American Dead); Chicago Dramatists (Drawing War); Stage Left (Empty); Strawdog Theatre, Terrapin Theatre Company (the go); TimeLine Theatre Company (Harmless). His play Old Glory will be produced at Writers' Theatre during the 2008-09 season.

The design team for Gas For Less includes Tom Burch (set design), Tif Bullard (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design) and Joseph Fosco (sound design).

For more information visit GoodmanTheatre.org or the Goodman Theatre box office at 170 North Dearborn Street, or call (312) 443-3800.

Director Dexter Bullard and playwright Brett Neveu in a rehearsal for <i>Gas For Less.</i>
Director Dexter Bullard and playwright Brett Neveu in a rehearsal for Gas For Less. Photo by Michael Brosilow
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