Mary Ann Thebus Is Mom in The Boys Room, a World Premiere Opening Jan. 31 at Victory Gardens

News   Mary Ann Thebus Is Mom in The Boys Room, a World Premiere Opening Jan. 31 at Victory Gardens
Adult brothers retreat to their childhood bedroom in the Victory Gardens Theater world premiere of Joel Drake Johnson's The Boys Room, opening Jan. 31 following previews from Jan. 21 in Chicago.

Allison Torem and Mary Ann Thebus
Allison Torem and Mary Ann Thebus Photo by Liz Lauren

Sandy Shinner directs a cast that includes Joe Dempsey (Ron), Steve Key (Tim), Allison Torem (Roann) and Mary Ann Thebus (as Susan, the mom, a role written for her).

Performances play to Feb. 20 in VG's Zacek McVay Theater. The Tony Award-winning Chicago company is committed to contemporary plays from a stable of in-house writers.

"Joel heard the very first draft of The Boys Room in a reading at VG in the fall of 2008," director Shinner said in a statement. "This early support helped him explore explosive relationships in this new play. In the First Look reading at Steppenwolf, the post-play discussion was electric as the audience talked about the humor and immediate relevance of this play about lost jobs, dashed dreams, and the power of a parent's love."

Here's how VG characterizes the new play: "What happens when the American Dream slips out of reach? In The Boys Room, ensemble playwright Joel Drake Johnson walks the line exquisitely between laughter and tears. Two middle-aged brothers try to escape their responsibilities and race each other back to their boyhood bedroom — that sanctuary where they can dream and scheme and, hopefully, recover from the pressure of the outside world. One is unemployed; the other is making a living but is not sure why he should live. Two of the women in their lives have dreams too … and they are knocking on the door, filled with questions and, sometimes, love."

Playwright Johnson is one of the newest members of Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater Playwrights Ensemble. The critically acclaimed, Jeff nominated Four Places was produced by Victory Gardens in the spring 2008. It recently played an extended run in Los Angeles where it received unanimous praise from the critics. His earlier works at VG, Before My Eyes and The End of the Tour, were also Jeff-nominated for Best New Play. Johnson has won three Illinois Arts Council grants including one for A Blue Moon, which was first produced at Chicago Dramatists and also Jeff nominated for Best New Work. His other plays include Beautiful Dreamer; As the Beaver; The Fall to Earth; Blameless Life; and Tranquillity. Chicago favorite Thebus is returning to Victory Gardens for the tenth time having first performed there in Close Ties in 1980. This is Thebus' fourth time working with Sandy Shinner and Joel Drake Johnson. She has been seen on most Chicago stages and has been performing in the Chicago area for 20 years. She is the recipient of numerous Jeff nominations and the 2002 After Dark award for her work in The Organic's Painting Churches.

The designers are Jeff Bauer (set), Todd Hensley (lights), Carol Blanchard (costumes) and Andre Pluess (sound). The stage manager is Tina Jach.

For more information, visit

Steve Key, Mary Ann Thebus and Joe Dempsey
Steve Key, Mary Ann Thebus and Joe Dempsey Photo by Liz Lauren
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