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Pride Films and Plays' THE BOOK OF MERMAN Opens in January

Pride Films and Plays announces that Sam Button-Harrison* and Dan Gold join Libby Lane* as the cast of The Book of Merman, a new musical comedy by Jeff Award-winning playwright Leo Schwartz. The show opens on January 17, 2015 at Mary's Attic, 5400 North Clark Street.

When two young missionaries ring a doorbell marked E.M. in a small town, they have no idea that a certain Ethel will open the door. With some dazzling parody music and Schwartz's original songs, laughter ensues throughout The Book of Merman catapulting you to places you didn't know you wanted to go.

Jeff Award-winner David Zak* directs, with Jeff Award-winner Robert Ollis* music directing. Costumes are by Raquel Adorno*. Understudies are Parker Guidry and Edward Fraim*.

Details: The Book of Merman by Leo Schwartz, directed by David Zak, musical direction by Robert Ollis, and featuring Libby Lane as Ethel Merman.

  • Previews January 15 and 16, 2015 at 7:30
  • Press Opening January 17, at 7:30
  • Regular performances Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 5:00 through February 15th.
  • Tickets $15 for previews and $25 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances. Students and Seniors can save $5 per ticket. Ten Premium tickets with prime reserved seating for each performance are $30.
  • Performances are at Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark, Chicago.
  • Purchase online at or call 1800 838 3006.
  • Pride Films and Plays offers subscriptions and memberships for 2014-15 for even greater


*Denotes a member of Pride Films and Plays Artistic Ensemble.

Sam Button-Harrison is a member of PFP's Artistic Ensemble and Artistic Associate of Underscore Theatre Company. He played the role of Jon Phillips in PFP's Jeff-Award winning new musical Under a Rainbow Flag, various roles in the Jeff Recommended PFP show Some Men, as well as roles in many smaller PFP projects. Other Chicago credits include Assassins as the Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald presented by Billy Pacholski, various characters in the Waltzing Mechanics production of EL Stories: Rainbow Train, as well as originating the roles of Eddie Buonocazzo in Pr0ne: A Casting Couch Musical Comedy and Brandon Milford in Liberal Arts: The Musical for Underscore Theatre Company.

Dan Gold makes his Pride Films & Plays debut in The Book Of Merman. He was recently seen in Light Opera Works' Fiddler On The Roof and Damn Yankees. Other recent Chicago credits include Jersey Shore: The Musical (Vinny), Tony N' Timmy's Wedding, and It's A Wonderful Pro-Life with 4 Days Late Productions.

Libby Lane is an Artistic Associate with Pride Films & Plays and responsible for the planning and development of the Women's Words initiative. Libby most recently appeared in PFP's Gay Play Weekend as Henrietta in Max Vernon's The View UpStairs. A founding member of The Scooty JoJo Show, she starred as Guy Woodhouse in Rosemary Clooney's Baby and originated the role of Tommy Doyle in their critically acclaimed Carpenters Halloween. As a proud alum of Hell in a Handbag Productions, some of her favorite roles include Gabby Marvin in Lady X and Edith Sussman in Die! Mommie! Die! Libby received her BFA in Musical Theatre from Millikin University and her MFA in Acting from Western Illinois University.

Music Director Robert Ollis was nominated for Jeff Awards for his music direction of Pride Films & Plays' Songs from an Unmade Bed and Under A Rainbow Flag. Robert received a Jeff Award for his musical direction of Kiss of the Spider Woman. His favorite productions with Bailiwick Chicago have included Elton John's AIDA, Violet, A Season of Change: Holidays in the Sixties, and Show Us Your Love. He has also music-directed several Chicago Casting Auction productions, most recently The Drowsy Chaperone. Other notable projects have included Assassins, A Man of No Importance, My Favorite Year, The Who's Tommy and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Robert has accompanied cabaret performers at Feinstein's in New York City, Davenport's in Chicago and countless local theatre benefits.

The works of Jeff Award Winner Leo Schwartz (Under A Rainbow Flag - Best New Work, 2013; renamed HONOR!) have been performed Off-Broadway, in Chicago, and in Europe. His musical, NAUGHTY! was the Director's Choice of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Me and Capone - Or How I Died in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre was featured at the SONY search for New Musicals in Cardiff, Wales. His film scores and films have won awards in numerous festivals. He is Composer-In-Residence for the Chicago Clarinet Ensemble. Leo receives frequent commissions and makes his residence in Chicago, Illinois.

Director David Zak has won 7 Jeff Awards in Chicago, including four for Directing (Animal Farm, Dr. Sex, Parade, Pope Joan), two for writing (The Hiroshima Project, The Count of Monte Cristo) and a special Jeff for "Fostering Diversity in Chicago Theater." He has directed in London (The Irish Curse), Seoul (Dollhouse, Fanta Stick, The Ghost's Cookbook), Dublin (Oh, Holy Allen Ginsberg, At The Flash), Boston (Sin: A Cardinal Deposed), Los Angeles (Dr. Sex, At The Flash) and New York (Marlowe, Poseidon: An Upside Down Musical). His productions of the American Premieres of Jerry Springer - The Opera and Sir Peter Hall's Animal Farm were named Best Musical, as were his productions of Parade, Pope Joan, and Dennis DeYoung's Hunchback of Notre Dame. His most recent Chicago productions have included: the world premiere of Martin Casella's Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead, Sochi: Three Short Plays About Gay Athletes and Some Men (co-directed with Derek Van Barham) by Terrence McNally. In 2013, the world premiere of Leo Schwartz's Under A Rainbow Flag won 2 Jeff Awards for Best Musical Production and Best New Work. For Vermont Pride Theater he has directed many productions and readings, including the World Premiere staging of Will Fellow's Farm Boys in 2014. He was Artistic Director of Bailiwick Repertory for 27 years, and is an educator and journalist, and was inducted into the City of Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2013. David is Executive Director of Pride Films and Plays.

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