ATC Presents THE BIG MEAL 2/3-3/6

American Theater Company (ATC) continues its 26th season with the World Premiere of The Big Meal, written by New York Times 2010 Outstanding Playwright Award-winner Dan LeFranc and directed by Dexter Bullard. The production will run February 3 - March 6, 2011, at American Theater Company, 1909 W Byron St, Chicago, IL. Press opening is Monday, February 7, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.

Playwrights Horizons has announced that LeFranc's The Big Meal will be a part of its 2011-12 Season. Thus making The Big Meal the second consecutive ATC World Premiere to move immediately to a major regional theatre; Kristoffer Diaz's Welcome to Arroyo's (Old Globe) was the first.

A Suburban Restaurant. Today. Eight actors present the life-changing moments from five generations of a modern family. From their first kiss to their final goodbye, this family's long history illuminates life, love and loss at America's dinner table.

"This play has enchanted me in so many ways - its innovation, its breadth, its simplicity and the emotional power of its story," says Dexter Bullard. "It is rare to find a play that is so real, yet theatrically bold - Dan is a thrilling new voice in American theater and The Big Meal proves this."

"The Big Meal is a roller-coaster ride through an American family's most dynamic dinner moments," adds Artistic Director PJ Paparelli. "Imagine sitting in a restaurant watching your parents meet as twenty-somethings and five minutes later watching your own children become you and you become your parents. That is The Big Meal. Five generations of your family's most ridiculous, embarrassing, and breathtaking moments."

The Big Meal features Andrew Goetten, Philip Earl Johnson, Emily Leahy, Lindsay Leopold, Lia Mortensen, Peggy Roeder, Noah Schwartz and Will Zahrn.

The creative team includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (scenic and lighting design), Tiff Bullard (costume design), and Kevin O'Donnell (sound design). The Stage Manager is Dana Nestrick.

Dexter Bullard (Director) recently opened Craig Wright's Mistakes Were Made at Barrow Street Theatre in New York after directing the World Premiere at A Red Orchid Theatre with Michael Shannon in 2009. He previously worked with Wright on Lady at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre Off-Broadway and Grace at Northlight. Recent directing credits include Reverie with Second City at The Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, and Brett Neveu's Gas for Less at the Goodman Theatre. Previous A Red Orchid credits include Koltes' In the Solitude of Cotton Fields, Bob Adams' Place of Angels, Tracy Letts' Bug, and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. In 2004, Dexter was awarded the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Direction Off-Broadway for Bug at The Barrow Street Theater, as well as a Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Director. In 1995 Dexter co-founded Plasticene Physical Theater, whose critically-acclaimed experimental works have been featured at The Steppenwolf Studio, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Storefront Theatre, Performing Arts Chicago, and in New York City. With Plasticene, he has directed and collaboratively created twelve original works including The Palmer Raids (2003) and One Fal$e Note (2006). Since 1996, Dexter has directed with The Second City, developing revues at E.T.C. and Detroit. For three years, he led a Second City National Touring Company to many destinations including Vienna and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston. Back in 1990, Dexter founded The Next Lab at The Next Theatre where he directed Bouncers, for which he received a Jefferson Citation and an After Dark Award for his direction. As Associate Artistic Director at Next Theatre, he directed and/or created eight shows for the mainstage and Lab. He has also directed projects for Famous Door, American Theater Company, and Hartford Stage Company. He teaches acting, improvisation and physical theater nationally and is Head of Graduate Acting Program at The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Dan LeFranc (Playwright) received the 2010 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award for Sixty Miles to Silver Lake, which was premiered by Page 73 Productions and Soho Rep. His other plays include The Big Meal, Origin Story, The Troublemaker (or, The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright), Bruise Easy, Night Surf, In The Labyrinth, Backyard, The Fishbone Fables, Kill The Keepers, and Catgut. Dan's work has been seen or developed across the country at The Public Theatre, The Vineyard Theater, MCC, The Kennedy Center, Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Repertory Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, The Studio Theatre, American Theatre Company, The House Theater of Chicago, ArsNova, Rattlestick, Clubbed Thumb, The Magic Theater, The Hangar, Circle X Theater, and the Page 73 Summer Residency at Yale, among others. He is a proud member of New Dramatists, the MCC Playwrights Coalition, and a former member of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. He is developing a musical adaptation of his play Night Surf with Asher Richelli of Page 73 Productions and Nathan Allen of The House Theater of Chicago. Other awards include the Whitfield Cook Award, the John C. Russell Fellowship in Playwriting, a Djerassi Resident Artists Program Fellowship, a MacDowell Colony/Alpert Foundation Residency; and commissions from Yale Rep, Berkeley Rep, and American Theatre Company in Chicago. A graduate of the MFA playwriting program at Brown University, Dan served as visiting faculty in Literary Arts at Brown and head playwriting instructor of the Brown/Trinity Rep Consortium. He was recently a visiting lecturer at University of Rochester and Whitman College.

Philip Earl Johnson (Man 2) makes his American Theater Company debut with The Big Meal. National credits include work in Los Angeles at The Laguna Playhouse, The Stella Adler Theater, and the national tour of Tony Kushner's Angels in America playing Joe Pitt. He has recently played locally at The Writer's Theater in Old Glory, a World Premiere by Brett Neveu; and The Goodman Theater in Talking Pictures and The Actor by Horton Foote. Past credits include work at Steppenwolf playing Picasso in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Jesus in The Mystery Cycle at Court Theatre, as well as work at the Chicago Shakespeare, Famous Door, Bailiwick and Oak Park Festival Theaters. Phil has spent eleven summers at The Illinois Shakespeare Festival playing such roles as Cyrano, Macbeth, Coriolanus, and Henry VIII. He has numerous television and film credits. He is a veteran of over 4500 performances, and spends spends most of his year traveling the country as MooNiE the MagnifiCent: Juggler, Ropewalker, Foolish Mortal!, a solo classical clown act that has been seen at The Bristol Renaissance Faire for the last 20 years.

Emily Leahy (Girl) makes her first appearance at American Theater Company in The Big Meal. She made her professional stage debut at 4 years old, as Macy in Dollhouse at The Goodman Theatre. Some of her other credits include Zuzu in It's a Wonderful Life- A Live Radio Play at Fox Valley Repertory , Molly in Annie at St. James Theatre , Tootie in Meet Me In St. Louis at Drury Lane Water Tower, and Kirsti in Number the Stars at Apple Tree Theatre. Emily has also been in several commercials including Bob Evans and Luna Carpet. She is 9-years-old and lives in Elk Grove. In her spare time, she takes hip-hop, jazz, tap, and tumbling classes.

Lindsay Leopold (Woman 3) is honored to be working with American Theater Company again, having last appeared in ATC's Silver Project. Recent Chicago credits include The Hypocrites' Cabaret (Sally), Lifeline Theatre's Wuthering Heights, and The Castle of Otranto at First Folio Theatre. Originally from Cape Cod, Lindsay has worked with Provincetown Theatre Company and Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre. She holds an MFA from DePaul's Theatre School.

Lia D. Mortensen (Woman) makes her American Theater Company debut in The Big Meal. Other Chicago credits include A Doll's House, Macbeth, and The Illusion (Next Theatre), Rabbit Hole (Goodman), Fighting Words (Rivendell), Lady Windemere's Fan, SkyGirls and Talley's Folly (Northlight); All's Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Closer and Faith Healer (for which she received a Jeff Nomination and the Sarah Siddons-Actress of the Year Award) at Steppenwolf; Night and Day (RemyBumppo); Aristocrats (Organic Theatre); Voice of the Turtle (Classic American Theatre); and Serious Money and Ghosts (Court Theatre). Film credits include Blink. Television credits include Early Edition, Missing Persons, and the TV Pilot, Family Practice.

Peggy Roeder (Woman 1) makes her American Theater Company debut in The Big Meal. She just finished FLOAT at About Face Theatre. Other Chicago credits include Capote's Holiday Stories at Provision Theatre, Busy World is Hushed at Next, The Dresser at Steppenwolf, Barefoot in the Park at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Uncle Vanya at Court, How Can You Run With A Shell? and Kabuki Lady Macbeth at Chicago Shakespeare, The Trip to Bountiful at Goodman, and Indian Ink at Apple Tree. Her work in Chicago theatre has garnered her four Jeff Awards, three Artisan Awards, and two After Dark Awards. Other theatre credits include Cabaret, A Little Night Music, and Over the Tavern at Peninsula Players, Cider House Rules at Atlantic Theatre Company and Mark Taper Forum, and Clean House at Milwaukee Rep. Her film work includes Road to Perdition, Stranger Than Fiction, Groundhog Day, Were The World Mine, Eagle Eye, The Lakehouse, Baby on Board, and In Memoriam. On television she has been seen on Law & Order, E.R., Star Trek:DS9, Pennsylvania Miners Movie, Prison Break, and All My Children. Peggy has sung in concert at Ravinia and the Chicago Humanities Festival, and can be heard on both Second City Divas CDs. Peggy is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.

Noah Schwartz (Boy) is 13 years-old and from Highland Park, where he attends Elm Place. In 2007 Noah landed a break-out role in Apple Tree Theatre's summer camp production of the Pirates of Lake Michigan. He has since played Fleance in Macbeth at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and Jesse in Lisa Loomer's Distracted at American Theater Company. Noah also played in the National Tour of The Wizard of Oz at the Chicago Theatre. Film work includes Polish Bar with Judd Nelson and Richard Belzer and The Dilemma starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. Commercial work includes Filbert's Soda, The Big Ten and voiceover.

Will Zahrn (Man 1) returns to American Theater Company, where he last appeared in Jerry and Tom under Dexter Bullard's direction. Chicago stage credits include, Tracers, El Salvador, Mizlansky/Zilinsky, The Infidel, As I Lay Dying, Slaughterhouse Five and Side Man at Steppenwolf; The War with the Newts at Next Theatre; Yankee Tavern at Milwaukee Rep; and Henry V, Foxfire at Utah Shakespearen Festival. Will's film work includes Ironweed, The Untouchables, The Client, L.A. Confidential, The Dark Night and What's Wrong with Virginia?.

The Big Meal will be performed at American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St. in Chicago. Previews are February 3 - February 6, 2011. Press opening is Monday, February 7, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. Regular performances run Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. 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. Tickets are $30 in advance and $10 at the door during previews. Throughout the regular run, tickets are $35 - $50. Student and group discounts are available. ATC's box office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on performance Saturdays and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on performance Sundays. For reservations or further information, call 773-409-4125 or visit .


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