Victory Gardens Presents THE BOYS ROOM, 1/21-2/20


Victory Gardens continues its 2010/11 Season with the world premiere of The Boys Room by Ensemble Playwright Joel Drake Johnson, directed by Associate Artistic Director Sandy Shinner. The Boys Room marks Shinner and Johnson's sixth collaboration-A Guide For The Perplexed, Four Places, The End of the Tour, Before My Eyes, all at Victory Gardens, and Tranquillity Woods for Steppenwolf's First Look series. The production runs January 21 - February 20, 2011 at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park.  The Press Opening is Monday, January 31, 2011, at 7:30 pm.
When the going gets tough, just move in with mom!  Middle-aged brothers Ron and Tim are running.  One is running away from his marriage, and the other is simply tired of running after the American dream.  They return to the empty nest and set up a sanctuary in their boyhood bedroom.  On the other side of the door, the women in their lives urge them to grow up.
"Joel heard the very first draft of The Boys Room in a reading at VG in the fall of 2008.  This early support helped him explore explosive relationships in this new play.  In the First Look reading at Steppenwolf, the post play discussion was electric as the audience talked about the humor and immediate relevance of this play about lost jobs, dashed dreams, and the power of a parent's love," says Sandy Shinner. "The cast is stellar. Joel wrote the play for Mary Ann Thebus and she is joined by rising star Allison Torem and Chicago favorites Steve Key and Joe Dempsey."  
Victory Gardens world premiere of The Boys Room features Joe Dempsey (Court's The Illusion and Art  at Steppenwolf), Steve Key (national tour of August: Osage County), Allison Torem  (Trust at Lookingglass, Kid Sister at Profiles) and Mary Ann Thebus (The Piano Teacher at Next,   at Victory Gardens and Richard III  at Chicago Shakespeare).

The designers are Jeff Bauer (set), Todd Hensley (lights), Carol Blanchard (costumes), and Andre Pluess (sound).  The stage manager is Tina Jach.
Joel Drake Johnson (Playwright) is one of the newest members of Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater Playwrights Ensemble. The critically acclaimed, Jeff nominated Four Places was produced by Victory Gardens in the spring of 2008. It recently played an extended run in LA where it received unanimous praise from the critics.  His earlier works at VG, Before My Eyes and The End of the Tour, were also Jeff-nominated for Best New Play and all three plays were directed by Sandy Shinner, Victory Gardens Associate Artistic Director.  Johnson has won three Illinois Arts Council grants including one for A Blue Moon, which was first produced at Chicago Dramatists and also Jeff nominated for Best New Work.  He got his start as a writer at Chicago's critically acclaimed Econo-Art Theater, which (under the leadership of Lynn Baber, Barb Reeder and Marc Silvia) produced such plays as Beautiful Dreamer.  His other plays include As the Beaver, first produced by Zebra Crossing, and The Fall to Earth (Rick Snyder, dir.) which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre and featured Tony Award winner Rondi Reed. It was subsequently produced at The Penguin Rep, directed by Joe Brancato and featuring Tony Award winner, Michelle Pawk.  Steppenwolf later produced A Blameless Life (Anna Shapiro, dir.) and Tranquillity Woods (Sandy Shinner, dir.) as part of their 2005 and 2007 First Look Repertory.  He has taught playwriting at Northwestern University, DePaul University and Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.  He lives in Chicago and New Buffalo, Michigan where he is working on two new plays: The First Grade, which was produced by the Aurora Theatre Company in the winter of 2010. Johnson is a member of The Dramatists Guild and PEN America.
Sandy Shinner (Director, Associate Artistic Director) has been with Victory Gardens for more than 30 years and, with Dennis Zacek and Marcelle McVay, was honored to accept the 2001 Tony Award® for Outstanding Regional Theatre on behalf of the theater.  This world premiere marks her sixth collaboration with Joel:  A Guide For The Perplexed, Four Places, The End of the Tour, Before My Eyes, all at Victory Gardens, and Tranquillity Woods for Steppenwolf's First Look series.  She is the producer of VG's Ignition which, in 2008, launched The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz and Year Zero by Michael Golamco, and continued this past summer showcasing six exciting new plays. Her recent directing credits include Aditi Brennan Kapil's Love Person for VGT, a showcase production of Jeffrey Sweet's Flyovers at New York's 78th Street Theatre Lab and co-directed (with Jessica Thebus) the revival of Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. Other recent directing projects include the world premieres of I Sailed with Magellan adapted by Claudia Allen from Stuart Dybek's novel, Memory House by Kathleen Tolan (Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival and VGT) and Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass, which transferred from Victory Gardens to off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre. She directed the world premiere of Jeffrey Sweet's Bluff here as well as at the 78th Street Theatre Lab in NewYork and Phoenix Theatre. Ms. Shinner is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and was a finalist for the Joe A. Callaway Director's Award for the New York production of Trying. She is an editor of Victory Gardens Presents: Seven Plays from the Playwrights Ensemble, which was published by Northwestern University Press. She is an adjunct professor at DePaul University.
Joe Dempsey (Ron) Recent plays include The Illusion at Court Theatre, Art at Steppenwolf and Strange Interlude (Neo-Futurists in the Goodman's O'Neill Festival) and regionally he appeared at Kansas City Rep and Centerstage, Baltimore in Around the World in 80 Days which he originated at Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago. Other Chicago work includes shows at Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Northlight, Victory Gardens, About Face, The Second City and many others, as well as regional work at St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, City Theatre (Pittsburgh), Milwaukee Rep and Madison Rep. TV/film credits include Early Edition, What About Joan?, Turks, Fiona's Fortune, Tenfold and Counting Backwards. Joe is a graduate of the theatre program at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Steve Key (Tim) Chicago theater credits include A Red Orchid, About Face, American Blues, Famous Door, Goodman, Lookingglass, Next, Northlight, Remy Bumpo, Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens. He has also worked with The Town Hall Theatre in Galway, Ireland, The Tectonic Theatre Project, The GeVa Theatre and The Public Theatre in NY. Most recently he played Little Charles Aikens in the original national Broadway tour of Tracy Lett's Tony Award winning, Pulitzer Prize winning August: Osage County (including extended stints at the Ahmanson Theatre in LA and the Kennedy Center in DC). Steve has received 5 Jeff Awards and 5 nominations for principal and supporting actor and ensemble (equity and non-equity).  His film credits include 1,000 Acres, Blackmail, Public Enemies, Salvaging, and Three Days, and TV credits include Ride Along (a mid-season replacement which will air on FOX TV in Jan of 2011), Law & Order - SVU and Family Practice.  Steve became a member of Chicago's Shattered Globe Theatre (SGT) in 1991 while performing in their formative Talk Radio, for which he received a non-equity Jeff for actor in a supporting role. The following decade provided Steve with opportunities to wear various artistic and administrative hats at SGT, including Co-Artistic Director, Artistic Advisory Panel member, designer, director of marketing and PR, and actor. In addition to Talk Radio Steve has performed in 15 SGT productions including: A View From the Bridge, God's Country, All My Sons, In A Pig's Valise and Coyote On a Fence. Steve has appeared in world premieres by writers such as Frank Galati, Larry Gelbart, Rebecca Gillman, Noah Haidle, Moises Kaufman, Jim McDermott, Heidi Stillman, Jeffery Sweet, and Craig Wright.
Allison Torem (Roann) makes her Victory Gardens debut in The Boys Room. Allison is the newest member of Profiles Theatre, where she made her professional acting debut as Jennifer in Neil LaBute's In A Dark Dark House and later appeared as the Young Woman in their midwest premiere of Great Falls. Allison can currently be seen as Demi in Profiles' world premiere of Kid Sister by Will Kern. Prior to that, she appeared in Trust at Lookingglass Theatre, for which she was nominated for a Jeff Award for Actress in a Principal Role. Allison recently finished filming the independent film The Wise Kids in South Carolina. She was a member of the Second City Youth Ensemble for two years. Later this season, Allison will be seen in Steppenwolf Theatre's production of Hot L Baltimore.
Mary Ann Thebus (Susan) is returning to Victory Gardens for the tenth time having first performed here in Close Ties in 1980. This is Thebus' fourth time working with Sandy Shinner and Joel Drake Johnson; her performance in Four Places earned her a Jeff nomination. She has been seen on most Chicago stages and has been performing in the Chicagoland area for 20 years. She is the recipient of numerous Jeff nominations and the 2002 After Dark award for her work in The Organic's Painting Churches. She was recently seen in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Richard lll and on stage at The Next Theatre in The Piano Teacher. She is a teacher of Acting both privately and at The Artistic Home.
Full performance schedulePreviews of The Boys Room are January 21-30, 2010: Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; and Sunday at 3 pm.  Previews are $20-$40.   The Press opening is Monday, January 31, at 7:30 pm.  Regular performances run through February 20, 2011:  Tuesday through Friday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 4 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday at 3 pm.   There will be a matinee on Wednesday, February 9 at 2:00 pm.   There are no performances Tuesday, March 1, 8 or 22, 2011.   Regular performances are $20-$50. 
Performances are at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.  For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens Box Office, 773.871.3000  (tty:  773.871.0682), email, or visit  Ask the Box Office about student, senior, Access, 20 for $20, and rush discounts.  For group discounts, call 773.549.5788

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