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Ty Olwin, Will Casey & More to Star in Raven's VIEUX CARRE; Full Cast Announced

Complete casting has been announced for Raven's revival of this later play by Tennessee Williams that was "rediscovered" in acclaimed productions in London and New York. An autobiographical play that Williams first began writing around the time he started The Glass Menagerie, it concerns a young writer who in 1938 moves to a ramshackle French Quarter rooming house that's home to an assortment of desperate and eccentric characters. The New York Times said Vieux Carré is, along with The Glass Menagerie, Williams' other autobiographical memory play, one of two "critical bookends" to Williams' career.

Appearing as the character based on Williams himself, here called simply "The Writer," will be Ty Olwin - a young actor new to Chicago who recently starred as Jack in Steppenwolf's Lord of the Flies. Chicago stage veteran Will Casey, who played the taxi driver in Famous Door's production of Hellcab for more than 300 performances will be Nightingale, the dying painter who provides the writer with his sexual initiation. Tye and Jane, characters who may remind audiences of A Streetcar Named Desire's Stanley and Stella Kowalski, will be played by Joel Reitsma and Eliza Stoughton. Reitsma's most recent credits include Danny in Motortown at Steep, and The Brig at Mary Arrchie. Stoughton has most recently been seen in in Broken Fences at 16th Street Theatre and You Never Can Tell at Remy Bumppo Theatre. The landlady of the rooming house will be played by Raven Co-Artistic Director JoAnn Montemurro, director and star of many Raven productions over the company's 31-year history.

Director Cody Estle says the play has a strong personal resonance for him. "Vieux Carré is about a young writer moving to a new and unfamiliar city with the dream of making art. It reminds me of my arrival in Chicago from my small hometown in Ohio not so many years ago, and my dreams of being a stage director before I even knew exactly what that meant. My situation was similar to that of the 'writer,' who in this play arrives in New Orleans unable to write because he has no stories to tell. This changes after he meets the assortment of characters in the rooming house, who give him plenty of material.

"I'm particularly excited to direct this play at Raven, a theater that has a stage large enough to show all the rooms of the boarding house in one vista. That's an advantage this play has not always had in previous productions and it will allow us to make the house a character of the play in its own right. Ray Toler has designed a magnificently detailed set that will allow us to follow the action in the various rooms of the house simultaneously."

Vieux Carre's cast also includes Sandra Watson, Debra Rodkin, Kristin Collins, Christopher Borek, Lane Flores and Miles Barrett. Gillian Butcher, Emmanita Crooks and Matt Bartholomew will understudy.

The creative team includes Kate Masiak (Stage Manager), Ray Toler (Set Designer), Alaina Moore (costume designer), Greg Hofmann & Garvin Jellison (co-lighting designers), Mary O'Dowd (Props Designer), Christopher Kriz (Sound Designer), David Woolley (Fight Choreographer), Andrei Onegin (Technical Director), Jack Bourgeois (Assistant Director), Shane Murray-Corcoran (Assistant Stage Manager), Lukas Brasherfons (Dramaturgy).

Tickets and information are available at or 773-338-2177.

Cody Estle (Director): Is an ensemble member at Raven, where he has directed Good Boys and True, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Boy Gets Girl, and Dating Walter Dante. Other directing credits include: Uncle Bob at Mary-Arrchie, Hospitality Suite at Citadel, The Tooth of Crime at City Wind, and The Teacher and The Phantom Corvette at the Neapolitans. He's had the pleasure of assistant directing at Northlight Theatre, Goodspeed Musicals, Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, Next Theatre, Caffeine Theatre and Strawdog Theatre. He's the Artistic Director of Haven Theatre, serves on the faculty of Cherubs at Northwestern University and is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.

Raven Theatre, an award-winning arts organization located in Chicago's Edgewater community, is dedicated to performing arts that illuminate the American experience, and work that provides reflection on our identity in a global context. Through its ensemble produced plays, collaborations with outside artists and organizations, and educational programming, Raven is committed to serving its community's needs via the arts.

Raven Theatre Company is funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, Polk Bros. Foundation, Yates Feldman Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Alphawood Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Jamerson & Bauwens Electrical Contractors, Inc., City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, The Ream Foundation and The Pauls Foundation.

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