'Men of Tortuga' Opens Profiles Theatre Season Oct 9th

Profiles Theatre opens 20th Anniversary Season
with the acclaimed comedy-drama
Men of Tortuga by Jason Wells

 
The Profiles production marks the first time
this play has been produced in the Midwest
since its premiere at Steppenwolf’s First Look Series

Profiles Theatre opens its 20th Anniversary Season with the acclaimed comedy-drama Men of Tortuga by Jason Wells, directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Rick Snyder. The production runs October 9-December 7, 2008, at Profiles Theatre, 4147 N. Broadway. Men of Tortuga will play for a limited engagement at Profiles through December 7, 2008 only and will not extend. The press opening is Thursday, October 9, 2008, at 8:00 p.m.

In an undisclosed location, three men scheme with a weapons specialist to eliminate the opposition in Jason Wells' dark comedy of negotiation, conspiracy and assassination. Tom Avery, Jeff Kling and Kit Maxwell are three power-brokers who will stop at nothing to wreck an historic meeting with an elite political enemy. But when Maxwell takes a young idealist under his wing, his long-dormant conscience begins to reawaken. The cabal is forced to concoct even more outlandish scenarios of annihilation and ponder whether their ends justify their means.

The Profiles production marks the first time this play has been produced in the Midwest since its premiere production as part of Steppenwolf’s First Look Series. Men of Tortuga was developed through the New Plays Initiative by Steppenwolf Theatre and was presented as part of the First Look Repertory of New Work in 2005. The show received rave reviews, enjoyed a popular run and was eventually nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award in November 2005. The play then received its World Premiere production in November 2006 at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Florida. Mr. Well’s newest play, Perfect Mendacity, was recently produced as part of Steppenwolf’s First Look Repertory and was directed by David Cromer.


This is the first production of Profiles Theatre’s 20th Anniversary Season. The next production will be the Midwest premiere of The Thugs by Adam Bock, which begins previews on October 25, 2008.  The Thugs will play in repertory with Men of Tortuga.


“We’re very excited to open our 20th Anniversary Season with these two productions,” says Profiles Artistic Director Joe Jahraus.  “Both plays take a unique look at the people behind the scenes in the world of business, with Men of Tortuga giving us a portrait of the ruthless leaders who pull the strings and seek to destroy all who oppose them.  Meanwhile The Thugs explores the lowly temps at a law firm who have lost their direction in life making gossip and rumor turn into paranoia and fear.  These playwrights approach their subjects with their own distinct voice making them very unique experiences for the audience.  Yet they will play together in rep beautifully.”

Profiles 20th Anniversary Season also includes the Midwest premiere of Great Falls by Lee Blessing, the U.S. premiere of The Wonderful World of Dissocia by Anthony Neilson and the World premiere of Graceland by Ellen Fairey. 
The cast of Men of Tortuga features Profiles’ Associate Artistic Director Darrell W. Cox as Taggert, the role he originated in Steppenwolf’s production.  Profiles’ ensemble member Eric Burgher appears as Allan Fletcher.  Also featured are Tom Lally, Jack McCabe and Fred Wellisch. 

The designers include Grant Sabin (set) and Profiles’ ensemble member Eric Burgher (sound).  The assistant director is Brittany M. Lee and the stage manager is Maryann Carlson.

PLAYWRIGHT
Jason Wells (playwright), originally from St. Louis, Missouri, is a Chicago-based actor with numerous stage, film and television credits. His first screenplay, From Missouri, was accepted for development by the New Harmony Project. Men of Tortuga was his first play, produced at Steppenwolf Theatre’s First Look Repertory in 2005, and subsequently at Asolo Rep in Sarasota, Florida.  His newest play, Perfect Mendacity was produced as part of Steppenwolf’s 4th Annual First Look Repertory of New Work and directed by David Cromer.  The play was commissioned by the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York and will open at Asolo Rep next May.

DIRECTOR
Rick Snyder (director) most recently directed The Lion in Winter at Writers’ Theatre, The Actor at the Goodman Theatre and Aristocrats at Strawdog Theatre. He has also directed Betrayal at Steppenwolf, Jolly and The Disappearance of the Jews at the Goodman, St. Scarlet at ATC, Bus Stop at Writers’ Theatre and Last of the Boys at Steppenwolf. Other directing credits at Steppenwolf include Tavern Story, Things Being What They Are, Orange Flower Water (which traveled to the Galway Arts Festival), and The Fall to Earth. This season he will also be directing Art at Steppenwolf and Mauritius at Northlight Theatre. As an actor, Rick recently appeared in August: Osage County and The Unmentionables at Steppenwolf Theatre as well as Man From Nebraska and I Never Sang For My Father. Other Steppenwolf Theatre productions include Wedding Band, Time of your Life, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in London and on Broadway, and Sideman in Galway, Ireland. David Copperfield, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Slaughterhouse Five, Molly Sweeney, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, the Tony Award-winning Grapes of Wrath, The Road to Nirvana, and A Walk in the Woods. He has appeared at the Goodman Theatre in As You Like It, Down the Shore and as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.  At Northlight Theatre he appeared in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf and The Rear Column. Television credits include Crime Story, First Steps, Lady Blue, Legacy of Lies, The Woman Who Loved Elvis, Overexposed, and guest starring roles on Early Edition, Profiler, Chicago Hope, Angel Street, The Untouchables, Missing Persons, and Mind of the Married Man. Rick has appeared in the films Meet the Applegates, The Tuskegee Airmen, Alien Nation Millenium, The Net starring Sandra Bullock, Whiteboys, and Soul Survivors. He appeared as agent Frank Burrows in U.S. Marshals and recently appeared in The Human Stain. Rick has taught acting classes at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, as well as advanced acting class at Northwestern University and DePaul.  He currently teaches Directing 1 at Columbia College in Chicago. Rick has been a member of the Steppenwolf ensemble since 1983, and an instructor for The School at Steppenwolf and Associate Artist at Steppenwolf for the last ten years.


CAST
Eric Burgher (Allan Fletcher) most recently appeared in This is How it Goes by Neil LaBute and "Land of the Dead" as part of Profiles' Midwest Premiere of LaBute shorts, Things We Said Today. Prior to that, he appeared as Carter in the Midwest Premiere of Fat Pig by Neil LaBute. Eric received an After Dark Award for Outstanding Ensemble in "Bench Seat" as part of Profiles' Midwest Premiere of autobahn. He was also seen as Steve in The Glory of Living, Steve Enloe in The Radiant Abyss, and as Dan in Noise. Eric is a graduate of Columbia College, where he is now an adjunct faculty member and teaches acting.

Darrell W. Cox (Taggart) is currently appearing in the Chicago Premiere of Leigh Fondakowski's The People's Temple at American Theatre Company as Jim Jones and Stephan Jones. He was last seen at Profiles as Terry in the Midwest Premiere of In a Dark Dark House. He has been seen at Steppenwolf in the World Premiere of Men of Tortuga (where he originated the role of Taggart), the Midwest Premiere of Orange Flower Water (which traveled to the Galway Arts Festival), and the World Premiere of Wendall Greene. Darrell has also appeared at the Goodman in The Shawl and Home as part of the David Mamet Festival and the World Premiere of Martin Furey’s Shot at TimeLine Theatre, among others. He has received three Jeff Awards for Principal Actor for his performances in Profiles’ productions of Blackbird, Some Voices, and Eye of God. In addition, he has received two After Dark Awards for Outstanding Performance for his work in Profiles’ Popcorn and Carnal Knowledge.  Other recent performances at Profiles include Apple, Fat Pig and The Glory of Living.

Tom Lally (Jeff Kling) has recently appeared as included Father Kenney in Bailiwick Rep’s A Man of No Importance, The Old Man in Signal Ensemble’s Fool For Love, Bentley Griffin Theatre Company’s The Constant Wife, Dad in Appetite Theatre’s Saints in Strange Places and Older Guy in Chicago Summer as part of CollaborAction’s Sketchbook 2008.  Other recent productions include: Father Bononi in Bailiwick’s Oh, Holy Allen Ginsberg!, which played in Chicago and Dublin, Ireland, and Walter Bates in Book of Days with Steep Theatre Company. Tom spent over twenty years in the Federal Government (U.S. Department of State and other security agencies and departments), working as a Special Agent performing duties in Executive Protection and Anti-Terrorism until he became a full time actor ten years ago.

Jack McCabe (Kit Maxwell) previously appeared at Profiles in the award-winning Autobahn by Neil LaBute.  Last season he appeared in Strawdog’s Aristocrats, directed by Rick Snyder and Richard !!; The Gift Theatre Company’s Three Sisters; Promethean’s Six Characters In Search of An Author and appearances in Collaboraction’s Sketchbook Festival and The Abbie Hoffman Festival.  Other recent productions include Provision Theatre’s Beast on the Moo” and Circle Theatre’s hit comedy Escanaba In the Moonlight (both Jeff-recommended), National Pastime’s The Firebugs, Idle Muses’ Proof, The Side Project’s The Elephant Man and Mr. Paradise. He has appeared in productions at Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, A Red Orchid, American Blues Theatre Co., Live Bait, European Repertory Theatre, Houlihan Productions, and many others. Jack’s TV and film work includes Fox’s series Murder in Small Town X as well as numerous industrials, commercials, voiceovers and Independent film projects including Tapioca which was featured in the Park City Film Festival and will be distributed this winter.

Fred A. Wellisch (Tom Avery) has previously appeared at Profiles in True West as Sol Kimmer, Glengarry Glen Ross as Shelley Levene and Popcorn as Karl Brezner.  Most recently, he played Shylock in Bohemian Theatre Company’s Merchant of Venice and Alan Bennett in The Lady in the Van at Lincoln Square.  He played Frosch in Lyric Opera’s 2006-07 production of Die Fledermaus.  He has also appeared as King Lear at Chase Park and Skelley Mannor in Eclipse Theatre’s Jeff-recommended production of The Rimers of Eldritch.  Other credits include: Steppenwolf (Winesburg, Ohio and Uncle Vanya); Apple Tree (Nine Armenians); Live Bait (Nelson and Simone); Shakespeare on the Green (Measure for Measure); Teatro Vista (Santos and Santos); Red Orchid (Born Guilty); Porchlight (Amadeus); and Strawdog (Detective Story).

Tickets for Men of Tortuga are $15 for previews (October 3-8); $25 for Thursdays and Sundays; $30 for Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are available by phone, (773) 549-1815, or online, www.profilestheatre.org.  Performances are Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 7:00 p.m.

Men of Tortuga will run in repertory with The Thugs, which begins performances on October 25, 2008. The Thugs will run Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 4:00 p.m.

Profiles Theatre is a not-for-profit professional theatre company founded in 1988 by five Eastern Illinois University alumni and has since been continually producing plays. Profiles brings new works to Chicago that illuminate the determination and resiliency of the human spirit. The company produces World, US and Midwest Premieres by new playwrights, as well as established writers whose work has been seen across the country and around the world. Profiles is particularly drawn to playwrights with a unique narrative style and use of language and the company takes pride in carefully selecting scripts that combine integrity with risk. Profiles Theatre is committed to producing plays that tell a story in a captivating way with productions that complement the ensemble and speak to its audience.


FACTS
Title:  Men of Tortuga
Playwright:   Jason Wells
Directed by: Steppenwolf ensemble member Rick Snyder
Featuring:   Profiles ensemble members Darrell W. Cox and Eric Burgher with Tom Lally, Jack McCabe and Fred Wellisch
Dates:    Previews: October 3, 4 at 8:00 p.m.
October 5 at 7:00 p.m.
October 6, 7, 8 at 8:00 p.m.
Press opening: October 9, 2008, at 8:00 p.m.
Regular run:   October 9–December 7, 2008
Schedule: Thurs, Fri, Sat:        8:00 p.m. 
Sun: 7:00 p.m.
Location:  Profiles Theatre, 4147 N. Broadway
Parking is available for $6-$10 at 4100 N. Clarendon
(One block east of the theatre at the corner of Clarendon and Belle Plaine)
Ticket prices:    Fridays and Saturdays, $30; Thursdays and Sundays, $25; Preview performances, $15; Students and Senior Citizens receive a $5 discount on all performances; Group rates are available.
Box Office:    Buy online at www.profilestheatre.org  or call (773) 549-1815

Notes of Interest:

•    Profiles Theatre, founded in 1988, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary Season.

•    Men of Tortuga will run in repertory with The Thugs, which begins performances on October 25, 2008.  The Thugs will run Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 4:00 p.m.

•    Associate Artistic Director Darrell W. Cox will reprise the role of Taggert, a role he originated in the original staged production at Steppenwolf’s First Look Repertory of New Work.  Darrell is currently appearing in The People’s Temple at ATC as both Jim and Stephan Jones.

•    Men of Tortuga was Jason Wells’ first play, produced at Steppenwolf Theatre’s First Look Repertory in 2005, and subsequently at Asolo Rep in Sarasota, Florida.  His newest play, Perfect Mendacity, directed by David Cromer, was produced as part of Steppenwolf’s 4th Annual First Look Repertory of New Work.

•    Before changing his full-time career to acting ten years ago, Tom Lally (Jeff Kling) spent over twenty years in the Federal Government (U.S. Department of State and other security agencies and departments), working as a Special Agent performing duties in Executive Protection and Anti-Terrorism.

•    Director Rick Snyder previously directed Men of Tortuga for Steppenwolf’s First Look Reportory.  He recently directed The Lion in Winter, which shattered box office records at Writers’ Theatre.  Later this season, he will be directing Art at Steppenwolf and Maritius at Northlight.  He was in the original cast of August: Osage County; he stayed in Chicago to direct, instead of appearing in the Broadway production.



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