Signal Ensemble Theatre Announces Three New Ensemble Members, Season Continues with AFTERMATH In 2010

Signal Ensemble Theatre, a Chicago company, announces the addition of three new ensemble members, starting in the 2009-2010 season, including scenic designer Melania Lancy, playwright/actor Jon Steinhagen and actor/director Bries Vannon.

An ensemble member is a resident artist of Signal Ensemble, whose primary purpose is to help further the artistic growth and goals of the company. Ensemble members are guaranteed major involvement in at least one production per season, either as actor, director, designer, playwright or technical staff. Ensemble members make vocal contributions to season selection, and have a strong voice in determining their role(s) in upcoming productions. At the yearly discretion of the co-artistic directors, new ensemble membership is voted on by current members, and the vote must be unanimous. In addition to Lancy, Steinhagen and Vannon, current ensemble members include MerEdith Bell, Brandon Bruce, Georgann Charuhas, Stephanie Ehemann, Anthony Ingram, Melanie Keller, Vincent Lonergan, Ronan Marra, Christopher Prentice, Simone Roos, AaRon Snook, Joseph Stearns, Philip Winston, with Artistic Associates Julie Ballard and Laura Dana.

Bries Vannon has appeared on stage with Signal in The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Hamlet, and She Stoops to Conquer, and served as assistant director for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, as he offers a contemporary perspective and contribution to Signal's work. Vannon is also a company member of WNEP Theater, where he appeared in and assistant directed Soiree DADA: Shmuck Die Hallen, and is now writing a stage mash-up of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Accidental Death of an Anarchist titled The Anarchist's Guide to the Galaxy for their 2010-2011 season. His other Chicago credits include ...And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers (The Right Brain Project), Dracula (The Building Stage), Faster (the side project), and The Magician (National Pastime). Currently, he is producing and directing Bogosian's subUrbia, opening in February 2010 as Part One of The Nine, an independent nine-play project of his creation.

Melania Lancy is the resident scenic designer for Signal and has designed almost every set since 2004, where her designs have included Catch-22 (first Signal design), The Weir (2007 Best Scenic Design Jeff Nomination), Landslide, Seascape, She Stoops to Conquer, Closer, Hamlet, Fool for Love, 1776 (2008 Outstanding Musical Production Jeff Award), The Birthday Party, Six Degrees of Separation, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Her other Chicago credits include The Little Foxes, Nefertiti the Musical, The Sound of Music, Cinderella, The Wiz, Aida, Brigadoon, Clue, A Devil Inside, Half Life, Antigone, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Noises Off. Lancy has also worked on commercial sculptures for the Shedd Aquarium, Brookfield Zoo, Sea World of Texas, and the Museum of Science and Industry, and is the College Counselor at the Chicago Academy for the Arts, an award-winning, arts-oriented high school.

Jon Steinhagen has appeared in the Signal productions of 1776 and Six Degrees of Separation,
and the company will produce his new play Aces next season (in which he will also appear). While he came to Signal as an actor and will continue in that capacity, he also brings deep experience in multiple disciplines that will prove extremely valuable to the company. Steinhagen is a Chicago Dramatists Resident Playwright, and in 2009, he was awarded First Prize in the Julie Harris Playwriting competition for his comedy The Analytical Engine. He wrote the book, music, and lyrics of the musical The Teapot Scandals, which received its world premiere at Chicago's Porchlight, which received a Jeff nomination for Best New Work, and an After Dark Award for best music and lyrics. His plays include The Applewood Pistols, The Velvet Gentleman, Something More Comfortable, Second Mouse, Dating Walter Dante, Aces, and Ponzi on Sunday. Perfectly Natural, a collection of his shorter plays, was produced at the Midtown InterNational Theatre Festival (NYC) in July 2009. Steinhagen wrote the music and lyrics for the musicals The Arresting Dilemma of Mr. K, The Circus of Dr. Lao, Emma & Company, and the Jeff and After Dark Award-winning Inferno Beach and People Like Us. Current projects include the book, music, and lyrics of Valentino In Between, and the plays Gepetto's Monster, Boats Against the Current, and One Tiny Dragon. He is an award-winning musical director, arranger, and actor who has received four Jeff Awards and six After Dark Awards as well as three Jeff nominations for writing, musical direction, or acting. He has had leading roles in Hedda Gabler (Raven), Plaza Suite (Eclipse), and Sweet Smell of Success, Mack & Mabel, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Circle). Music direction highlights include the world premieres of Josephine Tonight! and Muscle, and the Midwest premieres of The Life and Thou Shalt Not. He is an associate member of The Dramatist's Guild and a member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians.

NEXT: "Aftermath," written and directed by Ronan Marra, presented in spring 2010.
Part bio-play, part musical, "Aftermath" focuses on the dramatic side of rock n' roll that too often gets ignored: the rock n' roll. Perhaps most famous for his mysterious death by drowning at age 27, what is less known about Brian Jones is that he was the founder of The Rolling Stones. A master musician, Jones could literally pick up an instrument he's never touched before and have it down within the hour. His obsession with non-traditional instrumentation and the musicians of Joujouka would make an unheard of statement on the Stones' music and beyond. While his addictions and sexual escapades made the headlines, Jones' lasting impact on the musical landscape of the world -- not only on rock n' roll -- is masked behind his high profile relationships, his drug-induced arrests and the two members of the Stones that would become the face of his band.

FUNDER: Productions Plus is the exclusive sponsor of Signal Ensemble Theatre's
2009-2010 season.

MISSION: Founded in 2003 by Ronan Marra, Christopher Prentice and Joseph Stearns, Signal Ensemble Theatre is known for its ensemble acting and producing a diverse slate of plays that range from classics to new works. Signal uses the actor as the focal point to clearly execute the playwright's vision.

INFO: Signal Ensemble Theatre, 773-347-1350,

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