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ATC Opens 25th Season With Chicago Premiere Of Hollmann & Kotis' YEAST NATION, Runs 9/10-10/18, Opens 9/17

American Theater Company (ATC) kicks off its 25th season with the Chicago Premiere of Yeast Nation (the triumph of life) with music & lyrics by Mark Hollmann and book & lyrics by Greg Kotis. The production is directed by Artistic Director PJ Paparelli, with Musical Direction by Mark Elliott, and will run September 10 - October 18, 2009 at American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St, Chicago. An official opening is set for Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 7 PM.

The Tony Award-winning creators of the Broadway hit Urinetown return home to Chicago to premiere the strangest story ever to be musicalized. The Primordial Soup. 3,000,458,000 B.C. The world's first family, a colony of salt-eating yeasts, float in the brine of the primordial soup under the rule of a tyrannical baritone. When resources deplete and fear pervades, the faith of a single-celled dreamer starts an evolutionary chain reaction that changes the course of existence forever. ATC brings together an all-star Chicago cast including Barbara Robertson, Gary Houston, Phil Ridarelli and many more. Here come the Yeasts!

"We are so very honored that Mark and Greg chose American Theater Company out of all of the theatres in the country to premiere their much-anticipated follow-up to Urinetown," says Artistic Director PJ Paparelli. "Yeast Nation is the most ambitious project ATC has ever tackled; it's not every day a 110 seat theatre produces a pre-Broadway tryout. We are thrilled to mix evolution and rock 'n' roll to push the limits of theatrical storytelling. What an extraordinary way of kicking off our 25th Anniversary!"

Yeast Nation features Gary Houston (Jan the Elder), Andrew Keltz (Jan the Second), Melanie Brezill (Jan the Sweet), Sandie Rosa (Jan the Sly), Barbara Robertson (Jan the Unnamed), Phil Ridarelli (Jan the Wise), Wendi Weber (Jan the Famished), Bernie Balbot (Jan the Wretched/Young), Govind Kumar (Chorus), Trista Smith (Chorus), Bethany Thomas (Chorus), Bil Ingraham (Chorus), Robert Gerdisch (Chorus), Briana de Giulio (Chorus) and Stephanie Kim (New One). Please note: full cast bios are available upon request.

The designers are Walt Spangler (Set Designer), Paul Spadone (Costumes), Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer), Lindsay Jones (Sound Designers), DJ Reed (Props). Katie Klemme is Stage Manager. Choreography by Tommy Rapley.

Mark Hollmann (Music & Lyrics) won the Tony Award, the National Broadway Theatre Award, and the Obie Award for his music and lyrics to Urinetown the Musical, which itself won the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama League Award, and the Lucille Lortel Award for best musical. In addition, Urinetown was selected as one of the season's best plays in the The Best Plays of 2000-2001: The Otis Guernsey/Burns Mantle Theatre Yearbook. Following 965 performances on Broadway and a yearlong national tour, Urinetown has been produced in high schools, colleges, and community theaters across the country as well as internationally in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Germany, Australia, and Canada.

His other shows as composer/lyricist include: The Man in the White Suit (New York Stage and Film), The Girl, the Grouch, and the Goat (University of Kansas Summer Theatre), Alchemist the Musical (Seattle Fringe Festival), Jack the Chipper (Greenview Arts Center, Chicago), Kabooooom! (University Theater, University of Chicago), and the children's musicals I Think I Can and Deal with It! (both at Berkshire Theatre Festival) and Fare for All at the Mount Vernon Hotel (Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Gardens, NYC). He co-wrote and acted in The Rack, Theater of Funny, The Mercy Ripper, LBJFKKK, Love Me, and All Eight Die, all as a founding member of Cardiff Giant Theater Company in Chicago. Hollmann taught music composition at Columbia College Chicago, served as musical director for the Second City National Touring Company, and played trombone for the Chicago art-rock band Maestro Subgum and the Whole. For television, he has written songs for Disney Channel's Johnny and the Sprites. Hollmann received his bachelor's degree in music from the University of Chicago, where he won the Louis J. Sudler Prize for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Greg Kotis (Book & Lyrics) Greg Kotis wrote the book and co-wrote the lyrics for Urinetown: The Musical, for which he won an Obie Award and two Tony Awards. As a member of the Cardiff Giant Theater Company, Greg co-wrote and performed in six original comedies including LBJFKKK, Love Me, All Eight Die, Rancho Obscuoro, Aftertaste, and Dreamy. As a member of the Neo-Futurists he wrote for and performed in the long running show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Other plays include Jobey and Katherine, Eat the Taste, Pig Farm, and The Truth About Santa (An Apocalyptic Holiday Tale).

PJ Paparelli (Artistic Director/Director) Season 25 marks PJ's third season as Artistic Director of American Theater Company. ATC credits include Hedwig and the Angry Inch (highest grossing show in ATC history), True West (both Caucasian and African American casts), and the regional premiere of Speech & Debate (Jeff Nomination; TimeOut Chicago & New City Stage's top 10 productions of 2007). He made New City's "Top 50 Most Influential Theatre Players in Chicago of 2008." This season he will direct Distracted and has been commissioned to develop a documentary style theatre piece on Chicago's Public Housing with Congo Square and the National Public Housing Museum. From 2004-08, Paparelli was the Artistic Director of Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska. His directing credits include the World Premiere of Yeast Nation, Equus, The Who's Tommy, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, the premiere of a new version of Hair, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Voyage, and columbinus. In 2002, PJ founded the United States Theatre Project, where he conceived, co-wrote, and directed columbinus, which premiered at Round House Theatre and Perseverance, and ran Off-Broadway at NY Theatre Workshop. columbinus was nominated for 2 Lucille Lortel Awards, 5 Helen Hayes Awards, is published by Dramatic Publishing, and has seen over 30 productions around the world. Other directing credits include Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis), Twelfth Night at Shakespeare Santa Cruz (2005 Newsweek's Top 5 summer productions), Merchant of Venice (American Shakespeare Center), Action (Circle Rep) and True West in Russian at the Moscow Art Theatre School. Paparelli has worked in education and administration at The Public Theatre, Pittsburgh Public, and Circle Rep, and has directed and/or taught Shakespeare at Juilliard, Bread Loaf School of English, NCSA, UAlaska-SE, UNC at Chapel Hill, Catholic U, UPenn, and Johns Hopkins. He holds a BFA in directing from Carnegie Mellon and graduate studies in acting at the Moscow Art Theatre School. He is a member of the SSDC and is represented by Creative Artists Agency.

Yeast Nation will be performed at American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St. in Chicago. Previews are Thursday, September 10 - Wednesday, September 16, 2009. Official opening is set Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 7:00 pm Regular performances run Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Parking is available on the street and at the metered lot on the corner of Lincoln and Berenice. ATC is wheelchair accessible. Throughout the regular run, tickets are $35 on Thursday's as well as for matinees and $40 on Friday and Saturday evenings. Opening Night tickets are $50. Student and group discounts are available.

ATC's box office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and two hours prior to all performances. For reservations or further information, call 773-929-1031 or visit

American Theater Company is an ensemble of artists committed to producing new and classic American stories that ask the question, "What does it mean to be an American?" We provide a truly intimate home for the community to experience meaningful stories. We foster a nurturing environment for artists to take risks and create essential work.

American Theater Company is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and CityArts II. Additional valuable support is provided by the Alphawood Foundation, the Bruce B. Boyd Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation, the Polk Bros. Foundation, and Prince Charitable Trust.

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