By Kenneth Jones
25 Jun 2008
The company's mission "is to cultivate dynamic, relevant and provocative stories that bridge the 2,448 miles of cultural divide" between Chicago and Los Angeles, which were once linked by the famed so-called Mother Road, the now de-commissioned Route 66. Artistic director Tovar was looking for a way to collaborate on theatre pieces with friends in both L.A. and Chicago.
Tovar's colleagues in founding the company include Judge Gloria Coco, Heather Meyers, John Mohrlein, Jenniffer Weigel and Gwendolyn Whiteside. They have applied for not-for-profit status.
The Route 66 Theatre Company's first production will be the Chicago premiere of John Kolvenbach's On an Average Day, co-produced with the Vs. Theatre Company of Los Angeles, playing July 30-Aug. 31 at the Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater Upstairs Mainstage, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Ron Klier will direct.
On an Average Day had a lauded sold-out run in L.A. in March 2008. It premiered in London's West End in 2002, starring Woody Harrelson and Kyle MacLachlan and directed by John Crowley.
The play is billed as "both black comedy and psychological drama" and tells of "the emotional fog surrounding the relationship between two estranged brothers. Robert is clearly in desperate trouble and unraveling, just as his neat and controlled brother Jack arrives after a long absence. The piece evokes the tension of a mystery thriller though the lens of brutal family dysfunction."
The Route 66 production will feature Johnny Clark as Robert and Stef Tovar as Jack, repeating their L.A. work.
The production company includes fight choreography by Ned Mochel, scenic design by Danny Cistone, sound design by Ron Klier, costume design by Gelareh Khalioun and Erin Mueller. The stage manager is Carole Ursetti. The Vs. Theatre is under the artistic direction of Johnny Clark and Kimberly Rose-Wolter.
Tovar was most recently was seen as Knute Rockne in the world-premiere musical Knute Rockne: All American at Theatre at the Center. In the fall of 2007 he served as interim artistic director of American Theater Company and was seen on stage as Michael in I Do! I Do! opposite Heidi Kettenring. In Chicago, Tovar has worked at The Marriott Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Northlight Theatre, Organic Theater, Briar Street, Bailiwick Repertory Theatre and Apple Tree Theatre, where he won a Jeff Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play for Blade to the Heat. His Los Angeles credits include George in Sunday in the Park With George, Jamie in the L.A. premiere of The Last Five Years, Homer in Floyd Collins, Che in Evita and Kip in Wonder of the World.
Playwright Kolvenbach is the author of Love Song, On an Average Day, Gizmo Love, Fabuloso and Yje Gravity of Means. Love Song premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in spring 2006, directed by Austin Pendleton, and then went on to the West End, where it was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.
Kolvenbach's newest play, Goldfish, will have its world premiere at South Coast Rep in March 2009.
Heather Meyers will be heading new play development for The Route 66 Theatre Company. She has stage managed 15 productions at American Theater Company and has been the producer of Chicago's Big Shoulders Festival since its inception in 2003.
Next up for Route 66 is Jenniffer Weigel's stage adaptation of the book "Stay Tuned" (interviews with the likes of James Van Praagh, don Miguel Ruiz and Deepak Chopra to answer some of life's most important questions), re-imagined as a solo show called I'm Spritual, Dammit! It will be directed by Scott Cummins and play Viaduct Theater Aug. 15-Sept. 14.
Previews for On an Average Day will begin July 30 at 7:30 PM. Opening is Aug. 2. The performance schedule is Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 PM; Saturdays at 5:30 PM and 8:30 PM; and Sundays at 2:30 PM. Tickets are $25. Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater is located at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago. For tickets or more information call (773) 871-3000 or visit www.route66theatre.org.