Lisa D'Amour's Broadway-Bound Airline Highway Begins at Steppenwolf Tonight

News   Lisa D'Amour's Broadway-Bound Airline Highway Begins at Steppenwolf Tonight The world-premiere production of Airline Highway, a new play by Pulitzer Prize finalist Lisa D'Amour, begins performances Dec. 4 at Steppenwolf Theatre Company prior to an official opening Dec. 14.

Kate Buddeke
Kate Buddeke

Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Casa Valentina, Take Me Out), the production runs through Feb. 8, 2015, in Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theatre in Chicago.

The cast includes Kate Buddeke, Steppenwolf ensemble members Robert Breuler and K. Todd Freeman, Carolyn Braver, Chris Daley, Stephen Louis Grush, Terry Hamilton, Scott Jaeck, Toni Martin, Caroline Neff, Tim Edward Rhoze, Judith Roberts, Brenann Stacker, Gordon Joseph Weiss and Jacqueline Williams.

Steppenwolf's production will be presented by Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway beginning April 1 prior to an official opening April 23. Casting for the MTC engagement will be announced at a later date.

"In the parking lot of The Hummingbird, a once-glamorous motel on New Orleans' infamous Airline Highway, a group of friends gather," press notes state. "A rag-tag collection of strippers, hustlers and philosophers have come together to celebrate the life of Miss Ruby, an iconic burlesque performer who has requested a funeral before she dies. The party rages through the night as old friends resurface to pay their respects."

"The play is deeply concerned with interrogating the nature of community and belonging. Lisa has rooted the play in her hometown of New Orleans, an American city that lives in the cultural imagination as the home of Mardi Gras," artistic director Martha Lavey said in a previous statement. "Everything about the setting suggests transience, of passage, of the betwixt and between condition that so characterizes the rite of Mardi Gras. And indeed, the denizens of The Hummingbird motel are, for the most part, workers in clubs and bars that have capitalized on the tourist demand for Mardi Gras and extended its commercial reach well into Jazz Fest. As Francis, the poet of the group declares, 'The real fest is on the edges...'" "It took me a long time to be brave enough to write about my hometown of New Orleans — it is so hard to capture the nuance of this city in writing," D'Amour added. "This play is a celebration of NOLA natives and longtime locals; the people who have built the city and made it what it is. The character of Miss Ruby is based on New Orleans living legend Chris Owens, who still performs her incredible burlesque routine on Bourbon Street. I am interested in telling the story of New Orleaneans who have lived through it all — and continue to do so, on the fringes and behind the scenes."

D'Amour was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her play Detroit. Her works also include Cherokee, Night Sky, Hide Town and The Cataract.

The production team for Steppenwolf's staging of Airline Highway includes Scott Pask (scenic design), David Zinn (costume design), Japhy Weideman (lighting design) and Fitz Patton (sound design and original composition). Casting is by Erica Daniels; Malcolm Ewen is stage manager, and Christine D. Freeburg is assistant stage manager.

Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theatre is located at 1650 N Halsted St., IL. Visit steppenwolf.org for more information.

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