Hopper, Cromer, McDonough to Direct Huff, Wells and Gubbins for Steppenwolf First Look

News   Hopper, Cromer, McDonough to Direct Huff, Wells and Gubbins for Steppenwolf First Look Casting and directors have been announced for Steppenwolf Theatre Company's fourth annual First Look Repertory of New Work, featuring three developmental productions of new plays presented in rotation.

First Look runs July 23-Aug. 10 in The Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, 1624 N. Halsted St. in Chicago, and include related events. All tickets are $20.

The First Look Repertory of New Work 2008 productions are:

  • Pursued by Happiness by Keith Huff, directed by ensemble member Tim Hopper, featuring Thomas Joseph Carroll, Kat McDonnell and Paul Noble and Barbara E. Robertson, July 23-Aug. 10. "An unexpected meeting between two 40-something biochemists touches off a whirlwind romance. But when it's time to meet the parents, a series of shocking revelations test the new couple's relationship in this dysfunctional dark comedy from the author of A Steady Rain."
  • Perfect Mendacity by Jason Wells, directed by David Cromer, featuring Scott Aiello, Tim Curtis, Matt DeCaro, Aaron Todd Douglas and Liza Fernandez, July 24-Aug. 10. "When a top secret, internal memo from a scientific research facility is leaked to the media, Dr. Walter Kreutzer is forced to take a lie detector test about its origins. With his career on the line, Walter gets tangled up in investigations of bioterrorism and racially motivated killings. As suspicions escalate that Walter's wife is involved, the play's riveting plot twists uncover the insidious hypocrisy of government sanctioned discrimination."

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  • Fair Use by Sarah Gubbins, directed by Meredith McDonough, featuring Michele Graff, Brian King, Steven Marzolf, Kelli Simpkins and Halena Starr Kays, July 25-Aug. 10. "A plagiarism case involving a famous author is the backdrop for this romantic comedy set in a high-powered law firm. A series of questionable love letters fuel this breezy cross-examination of negotiating modern dating and relationships." The designers for all three First Look productions are Kevin Depinet (sets), Debbie Baer (costumes), Charles Cooper (lights) and Joseph Fosco (sound). The dramaturgs are Kimberly Senior (Pursued by Happiness), Jennifer Shook (Fair Use) and Rachel Walshe (Perfect Mendacity).

    Jonathan Templeton is the lead stage manager. Stage managers include Kathleen Petroziello and Cassie Wolgamott. Edward Sobel is the program director. Whitney Dibo is the program assistant.

    First Look Repertory of New Work "is a developmental process that culminates in performance before an audience, rather than in a staged reading or workshop presentation," according to Steppenwolf. "Scripts undergo significant revision during the workshop/rehearsal process and may be revised even after being publicly presented during First Look Repertory of New Work. The intent is to develop the plays for future production at Steppenwolf and other theatres across the country."

    Steppenwolf has long been a champion of both ensemble acting and new works.

    Individual tickets to First Look Repertory of New Work cost $20. A First Look Pass to all three plays is available for $45. Tickets are available at www.steppenwolf.org or by calling Audience Services at (312) 335-1650.

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    Keith Huff, a resident playwright with Chicago Dramatists, is the author of A Steady Rain, currently running at The Royal George Theatre and slated to premiere Off-Broadway this fall.

    Jason Wells' previous play, Men of Tortuga, was produced in First Look 2005, and subsequently at Asolo Rep in Sarasota, FL.

    Sarah Gubbins recently completed her MFA in writing for the screen and stage at Northwestern University. Fair Use was named one of the finalists in this year's Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition.

    Ensemble member Tim Hopper directed the world premiere of Mia McCullough's play Taking Care in the Garage Theatre. He has appeared in 16 Steppenwolf productions including The Crucible, The Violet Hour and Hedda Gabler.

    David Cromer received accolades for his direction of Next Theatre’s production of Adding Machine, which transferred to Off-Broadway. He also directed and appeared in The Hypocrites’ production of Our Town. At Steppenwolf, he directed the world premiere of ensemble member Austin Pendleton's Orson's Shadow and Richard Greenberg's The Dazzle.

    Meredith McDonough has directed new plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Public Theater, LAByrinth Theatre Company, and also was the New Works Program Director for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre. She is currently a member of the Women's Project Director's Lab.

    Six of the nine plays presented during First Look's first three seasons have enjoyed subsequent productions at other theatres, including: Men of Tortuga by Jason Wells produced by Asolo Repertory Theatre in Florida; Butcher of Baraboo by Marisa Wegrzyn produced by Second Stage Theatre in New York; 100 Saints You Should Know by Kate Fodor produced by Playwrights Horizons in New York; Spare Change by Mia McCullough produced by Stage Left Theatre in Chicago; Gary by Melinda Lopez produced by Boston Playwrights' Theatre in Massachusetts; and When The Messenger is Hot by Laura Eason produced by 59E59 Theaters in New York.

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