New United Flight 232 Dramatizes Final Minutes Before Airliner Crash

News   New United Flight 232 Dramatizes Final Minutes Before Airliner Crash
The harrowing play opens tonight in Chicago.
Laurence Gonzales

United Flight 232, a drama that relives the harrowing last 44 minutes before the crash of an airliner, officially opens in Chicago March 20 following previews that began March 11.

Based on Laurence Gonzales' book, Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival, the play is adapted and directed by Vanessa Stalling. It tells the story of the real-life July 19, 1989, disaster in which an airliner carrying 296 on a flight from Denver to Chicago crashed in Iowa after the engine failed and the pilot lost control of the craft. Unlike many other such disasters, the passengers knew of the problem and knew the plane was going to crash long before it did.

The premiere is produced by The House Theatre of Chicago. It runs through May 1 at the Chopin Theatre’s Upstairs Theater, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago.

Here is how the play is described in production notes: “The crew hold back their own panic as they work to keep the plane from rolling out of the sky and crashing to the ground. Over the course of 44 minutes, all on board contemplate their fate as they descend for an emergency landing towards Sioux City, Iowa. As they plummet, we hear their own words mix with intimate, swirling scenes of neatly packed rows, chairs, and airplane wings. Audiences will experience the thoughts and actions of the passengers and flight crew as they face the impending crash landing, the bargains they make with God, the anger and acceptance.”

Although 111 of the passengers were killed in the crash, the crew's training in disaster preparedness has been credited with saving the lives of 185.

The cast includes Brenda Barrie, Echaka Agba, Alice de Cunha, Elana Elyce, Rudy Galvan, James Doherty, Johnny Arena, Kroydell Galima, Michael Martin, Amanda de la Guardia, Ashley Hicks, Carlos Olmedo and John Lu.

The creative team includes John Musial (scenic designer), Delia Ridenour (costume designer), Steve Labedz (sound designer), Paul Deziel, (projection designer) and Katie Adams (stage manager).

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call (773) 769-3832.

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