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Strawdog Theatre Company Presents
Original Book by Mark Guarino
Original Music and Lyrics by Jon Langford
Orchestrations & Arrangements by Anabelle Revak
Directed by Anderson Lawfer
Music Direction by Chuck Evans
May 10 – June 22, 2019
As a longtime fan Jon Langford's work, I'm particularly jazzed to catch this production, featuring his original music and lyrics. I'll be out for the press opening May 20th, so check back soon for my full review.
Strawdog Theatre Company is pleased to conclude its 31st season with the world premiere of TAKE ME, a musical comic fantasia written by Mark Guarino, with original music and lyrics by Jon Langford (The Mekons, The Waco Brothers), orchestrations and arrangements by Anabelle Revak, direction by ensemble member Anderson Lawfer* and music direction by Chuck Evans. Based on real events,TAKE ME is the story of a woman struggling with trauma who finds solace in the world of alien conspiracy theories. TAKE ME will play May 10 – June 22, 2019 at Strawdog’s new home at 1802 W. Berenice Ave. in Chicago’s Northcenter neighborhood. Tickets are currently available at www.strawdog.org.
TAKE ME features ensemble members Nicole Bloomsmith*, Kamille Dawkins*, Carmine Grisolia*, and Michael Reyes* with Kristen Alesia, Megan DeLay, David Gordon-Johnson, Loretta Rezos and Matt Rosin.
Inspired by true events, TAKE ME is the story of Shelly, a woman trapped by the trauma of a husband in a coma and the chaos that followed. Looking for solace, she finds herself pulled in to the realm of wild alien conspiracy theories. Voices from the sky tell her the answer to all her problems is to build an alien themed amusement park in Roswell, New Mexico. TAKE ME is a comic fantasia, a story about having faith in a world where there are more questions than answers. It's the second collaboration between Guarino and Langford since their hit play All the Fame of Lofty Deeds, produced by The House Theatre of Chicago.
The production team for TAKE ME includes: John Ross Wilson (scenic design), Rachel M. Sypniewski (costume design), John Kelly* (lighting design), Heath Hays* (sound design), Lacie Hexom (props design), Tony Churchill (projections design), Jenn Thompson (stage manager) andEmily Ioppolo (assistant stage manager).
*Denotes Strawdog ensemble member
Cast (in alphabetical order): Kristen Alesia (Ensemble), Nicole Bloomsmith* (Shelley), Kamille Dawkins* (Doggie), Megan DeLay (Nurse), David Gordon-Johnson (Doctor), Carmine Grisolia* (Travis), Michael Reyes* (Matt), Loretta Rezos (Mother) and Matt Rosin (Father).
Location: Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Friday, May 10 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, May 11 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, May 12 at 4 pm, Thursday, May 16 at 7:30 pm, Friday, May 17 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 19 at 4 pm
Board Night Performance: Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 pm
Press performance: Monday, May 20 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Thursday, May 23 – Saturday, June 22, 2019
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 4 pm.
Accessible Performance: Sunday, June 9 at 4 pm, includes a pre-show touch tour at 2:45 pm, audio description and open captioning.
Industry Performance: Monday, June 3 at 7:30 pm
Tickets: Previews $18. Regular run $35. Seniors: $26. Board Night: $55. Tickets are currently available at www.strawdog.org. Half price rush and student tickets available at every performance and other discounts available. Call (773) 644-1380 for details.
About the Artists
Mark Guarino’s (Original Book) plays have been produced by The House Theatre of Chicago, Walkabout Theater, the Curious Theater Branch, Chicago Dramatists, Zebra Crossing, among other companies. This is his second collaboration with Jon Langford following All the Fame of Lofty Deeds, produced by the House. He is a recipient of fellowships from the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony in Woodstock, NY, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Sewanee Writers Conference at the University of the South. He has an MFA from Bennington College in Vermont and is under contract for his first book for the University of Chicago Press. Also a journalist, he covers news/culture for the Washington Post and he was the Midwest Bureau Chief for The Christian Science Monitor for six years. Visit mark-guarino.com.
Jon Langford (Original Music and Lyrics) Welsh-born Jon Langford, the original drummer for the punk band the Mekons, stands as a leader in the movement to incorporate folk and country music into punk rock. Langford has released numerous recordings as a solo artist and with other bands, most notably the Waco Brothers, Skull Orchard, Four Lost Souls, The Three Johns, Men of Gwent and The Pine Valley Cosmonauts. Since moving to Chicago, Langford has been active in the music scene nurturing label mates on Bloodshot Records, lending his services as a musician, producer or visual artist, or collaborating with like-minded artists (Dave Alvin, The Sadies, Otis Clay, Bonnie Prince Billy, Steve Earle, Andre Williams, Neko Case). Langford is also a prolific and respected visual artist best known for his striking portraits of country music icons. In 2015, Jon was the artist in residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, TN. Nashville Radio a book of Jon’s artwork and writings was published by Verse Chorus Press in 2006 and was followed in 2011 by Skull Orchard Revisited, a book and CD about his roots in South Wales. The Executioner’s Last Songs, a multimedia music/spoken word/video performance has been performed across the United States, Europe and Australia and two of his solo albums Gold Brick and All the Fame of Lofty Deeds were adapted for theatrical productions in 2009. Langford also illustrated the comic strip Great Pop Thingsunder the pseudonym Chuck Death. From 2005 to 2013, Langford was a host of a weekly radio program, "The Eclectic Company," on Chicago’s WXRT 93.1 FM and has been a contributor to NPR’s This American Life. This year, Jon will be touring Europe and America with the Mekons, taking a musical train ride through Alaska with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Dave Alvin, working with Marty Stuart on his new museum in Philadelphia Mississippi and lurking backstage at performances of Strawdog’s Take Me, which he wrote a bunch of songs for.
Anabelle Revak (Orchestrations/Arrangements) is a composer, music director and pianist currently based in Chicago. Her original musical Notes and Letters will receive a workshop at Underscore Theatre Company in July 2019. MD credits include: The Incredible 6,000 Foot Ladder (Best Music Director, CMTF 2019), Something Blue, The Bone Harp (CMTF 2019), The Last Five Years (JPAC). Orchestrations/Arrangements: Make Me Bad (Drew Gasparini), Abduction! The Musical (Becky Toth), Wife Material (Jamie Shriner). Annabelle is the literary manager at Underscore Theatre Company. www.annabelleleerevak.com.
Anderson Lawfer (Director) also worked with Guarino and Langford on the House Theatre's All The Fame of Lofty Deeds. Lawfer served as Artistic Director in Strawdog's Hugen Hall from 2012-16, focusing on new works and adaptations. Lawfer served as Co-Artistic Director of Strawdog from 2016-19. He was a creator and director of Masque Macabre, the immersive Halloween experience at Strawdog last fall.
Charles "Chuck" Evans (Music Director) is a Chicago-based musician and music therapist. This is Chuck's first time working with Strawdog and second opportunity working as a music director. He can normally be found performing in various theatrical performances in orchestras on violin, viola, and/or bass guitar. Chuck most recently performed in pits for Spring Awakening with Theatre Nebula (Palatine, IL) and Jekyll & Hyde with Next Gen. (St. Louis, MO).
About Strawdog Theatre Company
Since its founding in 1988, Strawdog Theatre Company has offered Chicagoland the premiere storefront theatre experience and garnered numerous Non-Equity Jeff Awards with its commitment to ensemble acting and an immersive design approach. The celebrated Company develops new work, re-imagines the classics, melds music with theatre, asks provocative questions and delivers their audience the unexpected.
Strawdog Theatre Company is supported in part by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Alphawood Foundation, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.