Full Sky Productions Presents LOCAL WONDERS, Closes 1/9

By: Jan. 09, 2011
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Full Sky Productions presents the Chicago premiere of LOCAL WONDERS, a play with songs, at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Avenue. The production will close on January 9, 2011. Lively with anecdote, humor, poetry and song, the musical celebrates the wonders of everyday life at our finger tips.

Rewritten for the stage by Virginia Smith and Paul Amandes, LOCAL WONDERS is adapted from the book Local Wonders; Seasons in the Bohemian Alps by former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, which describes in exquisite detail and humor the place he calls home in the rolling hills of southeastern Nebraska. LOCAL WONDERS takes the audience to this same home ground where, left to enjoy the fruits of a successful middle age, Ted Kooser finds himself, first lauded as a world class poet and then not only gripped by a sudden confrontation with cancer but also a severe case of writer's block. Feeling short-changed and betrayed, Ted finds little else to do but to walk daily and reflect on the events and people that brought him to this lofty but unstable precipice of both fame and mortality. Inspired by this forced questioning of the value of life and art, LOCAL WONDERS is a series of rich stories and songs through which the poet and his wife share their journey; one that is universally recognizable and uniquely personal simultaneously. Together they illuminate the longing to hold on to the slippery memories of childhood, the bitter sweetness of being parents, the close observation of the natural turn of the seasons, and the inevitable fistfight with growing old. Soon it becomes clear that these short reflections are indeed the very works of art Ted's self pity had seemingly prevented him from continuing. Eventually, through an astonishing interpretation and love of the local wonders of the world around him, Ted, gratefully discovers a renewed sense of honesty, grace, and clarity and - enters remission.

Told in direct address to the audience, LOCAL WONDERS comes alive in a 90 minute play highlighted with folk music and original lyrics by Chicago singer-songwriter Paul Amandes; in some of the songs, Kooser's poems are directly set to Amandes' tunes. LOCAL WONDERS features Amandes as Ted and Anne Hills as his wife, Kathleen. Pianist/vocalist James Robinson-Parran accompanies Amandes and Hills who also play guitar and banjo. Virginia Smith will direct.

LOCAL WONDERS was workshopped in 2005 and subsequently produced in 2006 by the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, the professional arm of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Support for the work has come from the Nebraska Arts Council, a Layman Grant from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Research Council and a Faculty Development Grant from Columbia College Chicago.

Virginia Smith first moved to Nebraska in 2000. Early in her relocation, Smith picked up Local Wonders by Ted Kooser at a local bookstore. Immediately, Smith wanted to share Ted's insights and observations in the way she shares stories-on the stage. She sent the book to Paul Amandes with a question of whether there were any songs in the piece. Amandes was inspired and, while Smith originally had only requested him to write the music, realized early on that his response as a man and a father deepened the approach to the material. Together, awakened by discovery, the two were inspired to develop Ted's work into a theatre production. Smith is an Associate Professor of acting and directing at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Artistic Director of Nebraska Repertory Theatre. Amandes is the Associate Chair of the Theatre Department of Columbia College Chicago and a free-lance writer-director-performer in theater and music.

Ted Kooser is a poet and essayist, a professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and most recently the 13th United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. A professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he is the author of fourteen full-length collections of poetry. For more information about Ted Kooser visit his website at www.tedkooser.com.

The performance schedule for LOCAL WONDERS at Chicago Dramatists is as follows: Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Individual ticket prices are $30 for Friday and Saturday performances and $25 for Thursday and Sunday performances. Discounts for senior, student and groups of 8 or more are also available. For tickets visit www.brownpapertickets.com, call 630-457-1074 or email fullskyproductions@gmail.com. Visit www.localwondersmusical.com for more information or to purchase the LOCAL WONDERS CD or to order the manuscript.

Chicago Dramatists is located just minutes from the Loop at 1105 W. Chicago Avenue, at the 24-hour Chicago Avenue stop of the Blue Line subway, and is just off the Ogden and Augusta exits of the Kennedy Expressway. There is street parking available. For more information visit www.chicagodramatists.org.


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