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A Red Orchid Theatre Presents BECKY SHAW, 9/22-11/6

A Red Orchid Theatre opens its 2011-2012 Season with the Chicago Premiere of Gina Gionfriddo's Becky Shaw, directed by Damon Kiely. The production will run September 22 - November 6, 2011 at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells. Press opening is Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 7:00PM.

Sharp wit and shifting moral ground play out with the taut suspense of a psychological thriller. This Pulitzer-prize finalist and comedy of bad manners, tangled love and sex had its debut at the Humana Festival. When Suzanna decides to set her best friend Max up on a blind date with her husband's mysterious co-worker, Becky Shaw, she sets into motion a series of cataclysmic events forever transforming each of their lives. 

"Having admired his work for a long time, I am very excited to have Damon Kiely directing our season-opener at A Red Orchid. In fact, Damon introduced me to Becky Shaw, and I knew immediately it stood to be a great fit for our Ensemble," says Artistic Director Kirsten Fitzgerald. "The play is definitely a story about some very specific people, but their behaviors, manners and interactions are in many ways universal. I find the arrogance, kindness, hope and disorientation generated in Gina Gionfriddo's brilliant play hilarious, appalling and ultimately cause for some self reflection. I cannot wait to share it with our audience."

Becky Shaw features A Red Orchid Ensemble Members Lance Baker (Max), Jennifer Engstrom (Suzanna), and Mierka Girten (Becky Shaw), with Dan Granata (Andrew) and Susan Monts-Bologna (Susan).
The creative team includes Stephen H. Carmody (Set Design), Jeremy W. Floyd (Costume Design), Michael Stanfill (Light Design), Joseph Fosco (Sound Design), and Emily Guthrie (Properties). S.G. Heller is the Stage Manager and Meg Lindsey is the Production Manager. A.J. Links is the Assistant Director and Rob Dieringer is the Dramaturg.

Damon Kiely (Director) served as the Artistic Director of American Theater Company from 2002 to 2007. Directing credits at American Theater Company include Oklahoma! (Nominated for 6 Jeff Awards including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical), The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Orpheus Descending, Kid-Simple, A View from the Bridge, Strictly Dishonorable and The Hairy Ape. He also directed Weekend by Gore Vidal for TimeLine Theatre, Well at the Next Theatre, and McMeekin Finds Out at Route 66. Kiely looks forward to directing the Midwest Premiere of Maple and Vine at the Next in fall 2011. At The Theatre School he has directed There's a Boy in the Girls Bathroom, Hurrah for the Next Who Dies and A Streetcar Named Desire. He looks forward to directing his own adaptation of Nancy Drew, The Sign of the Twisted Candles for the theatre school this year. Prior to moving back to Chicago he produced, directed and taught in New York City, where he directed for Public Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, the Ontological Theater, Adobe Theater Company, PS122, Ensemble Studio Theater and New Dramatists. Damon also served as the Artistic Director for Real Time Theater and was a Producing Director at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater as well as the Associate Artistic Director for the Children's Theater of Maine. He is a winner of the 2000-02 NEA/TCG Career Directing Program, the 2000 Drama League Fall Directing Program and the 1997 Princess Grace Award.

Lance Baker (Max) is a proud Ensemble Member of A Red Orchid, where he's appeared in Machiavelli's The Mandrake, The Grey Zone, Hunger and Thirst, and directed The Earl and A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant. He has received one Jeff citation, for Solo Performance in Will Eno's Thom Pain (based on nothing). Since graduating from the Theatre School of DePaul University he's appeared at many theaters including Court (Travesties, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf); Goodman (Lobby Hero, Dollhouse); Northlight (Mauritius, Lady); Steppenwolf (No Place Like Home, This is Our Youth w/Roadworks); Theatre Wit (Thom Pain based on nothing, Santaland Diaries); Lookingglass (Up Against It, Around the World in 80 Days); Victory Gardens (I Sailed with Magellian, Young Lady from Rwanda); and Roadworks (Dealer's Choice, Ecstasy). He appeared in Speed-the-Plow for American Theater Company; A Steady Rain for Chicago Dramatists; Amadeus for Chicago Shakespeare; and, as his professional debut, Michael Greif's 1994 production of Mad Forest for Remains Theater.

Jennifer Engstrom (Suzanna) has been an Ensemble Member since 2003. Engstrom has appeared in Eric LaRue and Weapon Of Mass Impact, both penned by fellow Ensemble Member Bret Neveu; The Fastest Clock in the Universe and The Hothouse, both directed by Ensemble Member Dado; Kimberly Akimbo and Fatboy, directed respectively by Ensemble Members Shade Murray and Guy Van Sweringen. Engstrom was most recently seen in Williamstown, Mass reprising the role of Eunice Hubbel in David Cromer's acclaimed production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Other credits include work at Steppenwolf Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Writer's Theatre, Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Northlight Theatre, Mary-Archie Theatre, Timeline Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, and the much missed Defiant Theatre and Famous Door Theatre.

Mierka Girten (Becky Shaw) recently returned from NYC after performing in the Off Broadway production of Mistakes Were Made, at Barrow Street Theatre. In Chicago she was last seen in Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party at A Red Orchid. Mierka originated the role of Esther in the world premiere of Craig Wright's Mistakes Were Made at A Red Orchid. Favorite Chicago credits include: The Walls and Psalms of a Questionable Nature with Rivendell, Weapon of Mass Impact at A Red Orchid, A View From The Bridge at ATC, The Book Of Liz with Roadworks, A Blood Wedding with The Hypocrites, Into The Woods with Porchlight, Joy Of The Desolate at Appletree, Golf at Circle Theatre, and Dear Jackie at Livebait. She has toured around the country in The Secret Garden and has been heard nationally, both as an announcer and jingle singer on radio and television commercials. Film credits include The Manson Family and The Lake at Evening. Mierka is the founder of The Mookie Jam Foundation, which benefits artists with Multiple Sclerosis. With or Without Wings, Mierka's original one-woman show that chronicles her life with Multiple Sclerosis, has been performed all over Chicago. She is a proud Ensemble Member of A Red Orchid Theatre.

Dan Granata (Andrew) makes his AROT debut with Becky Shaw. He most recently appeared in Master & Margarita at Strawdog and K. with the Hypocrites. Other Chicago credits include Mrs. Caliban and Neverwhere at Lifeline, The Man Who Was Thursday and Touch with New Leaf, The League of Awesome with the Factory Theater, Under Milk Wood with Caffeine, and Laughter on the 23rd Floor and Hedda Gabler with Raven. He is a frequent contributor to the weekly radio magazine The Paper Machete, and is co-founder of the Chicago Theater Database (

Susan Monts-Bologna (Susan) is making her A Red Orchid debut. She recently returned to Chicago where she studied with Del Close at Second City and did her Master's work at The Goodman School of Drama (now The Theatre School at De Paul). This was followed by a year at Milwaukee Rep with John Dillon, doing two world premieres (Friends and Custer); work with Barry Boys and Sandy Robbins; fifteen years in New York where she did a couple of movies (Mademoiselle and The Prowler); several years on Search for Tomorrow as Prof Aja Doyan; Broadway; Off-Broadway; numerous other stage works and commercials. Though back only two years she has had the good fortune to work with Eclipse (One Flea Spare, After The Fall), TimeLine (When She Danced u/s), Rendition (Echoes of the War) and Northlight; and with directors: Steve Scott, Nick Bowling, Anish Jethmalani, Amy Morton and Tim Curtis. She recently appeared in an episode of Chicago Code and is currently teaching at Act One Studios.


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