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Windy City Playhouse Appoints Carl Menninger and David H. Bell to Artistic Staff Positions


Windy City Playhouse Appoints Carl Menninger and David H. Bell to Artistic Staff Positions

Amy Rubenstein, Artistic Director and Evelyn Jacoby, Managing Director of Windy City Playhouse (3014 W. Irving Park Rd.) announce the promotion of Carl Menninger to Associate Artistic Director and welcome David H. Bell as an Artistic Associate for the Playhouse effective immediately.

"Southern Gothic," the Playhouse's 2018 runaway hit that Menninger co-created and Bell directed, is now in its record-breaking 16th month in Chicago at its new home on Motor Row (2229 S. Michigan Ave.)

"After supporting the creative needs of the Playhouse since its inception, co-creating the landmark production 'Southern Gothic,' supporting ancillary program development and fielding all new work submissions, Carl has become a vital part of the Playhouse's artistic voice and myself, Managing Director Evelyn Jacoby and our Board are thrilled to formalize this relationship with the new title," said Amy Rubenstein.

Carl Menninger has served as the Artistic Associate for the Playhouse since the theater's founding in 2014. He has lived and worked in Chicago for many years and directed the 2016 production of "This" at Windy City Playhouse. Currently, he is the Associate Artistic Director at the Playhouse as well as an Assistant Professor of Theatre at American University, in Washington, D.C., where he ran the Theatre and Musical Theatre program for eight years. Menninger is one of the co-creators of the Playhouse hit "Southern Gothic" and will direct the upcoming Playhouse production of "The Boys in the Band." While in Chicago, Menninger worked with Victory Gardens and Chicago Dramatists. In addition to working with D.C.'s Ford's Theatre, Studio Theatre and Adventure Theatre, his play "Everything But You: A Modern Romance" received a staged reading at Keegan Theatre in D.C. He is currently working on a play about silent film stars Ramon Novarro and Billy Haines. Menninger is the co-author of "Minding the Edge: Strategies for a Fulfilling, Successful Career as an Actor."

"In his new role, Carl will continue to foster new work (he is a co-author on the 'Southern Gothic' team's next piece, currently in development) and helm certain productions as Director (as he will with 'The Boys in the Band')," continued Rubenstein. "He will also be vital as the Playhouse's leadership looks beyond Chicago, to develop partnerships with producers nation-wide."

David H. Bell is a professor and Director of the Music Theatre Certificate program and Artistic Director of the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University. Bell has worked all over the world as a director, choreographer, and author. His work has received 44 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations, for which he has won 11; the Dramalogue Award (L.A.); the Helen Hayes Award (Washington, D.C.); five Carbonall Award nominations (Florida); a Laurence Olivier Award Nomination (London); seven Atlanta Journal and Constitution Awards; the Atlanta Circle of Dramatic Critics Award; and three National Endowment writing grants. He has served as Artistic Director for the historic Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. and as Associate Artistic Director for Atlanta's Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre. He has had more than 40 new plays and musicals produced internationally, including the Laurence Olivier-nominated musical "Hot Mikado." Recently, he collaborated with Northwestern University and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in presenting "Atlantic," a pair of new musicals at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last summer. He has collaborated on world premiere musicals with Craig Carnelia, Cy Coleman, Russell Baker, Jimmy Buffett, Herman Wouk, David Crane and Marta Kauffman, Bob Gaudio, Henry Marsh, Barry Mason, Jim Stafford, Eddie Seago, and Mike Leander, among many others. He directed and coauthored "Knute Rockne: All-American" at The Theatre at the Center and his adaptation of "The Boys from Syracuse," for which he was nominated for three Jefferson Awards, played at the Drury Lane Oakbrook. He directed his musical "The Bowery Boys" at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire and directed and choreographed "Once on this Island" at Marriott and "Hot Mikado" at Drury Lane. In summer 2011, David directed his own Fanny Brice musical at Florida's Asolo Rep Theatre; wrote a program of musicals to accompany the AIDS Memorial Quilt to Washington D.C.; directed "Hamlet" at Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival and a World Premiere of "Hero" at the Marriott Theatre and Asolo Repertory Theatre; and wrote "The Rules of Love" in Istanbul with Turkish rock stars Sertab Erener and Demir Demirkan. David opened "Shakin' the Rafters" for Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre in Atlanta; directed "South Pacific," "9 to 5," "Cabaret," and "On the Town" for the Marriott Lincolnshire; and directed "The Comedy of Errors," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and "Pericles" for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. For Northwestern University's Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts, David has directed "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and six Waa-Mu Shows: "Another Way West," "Beyond Belief," "What's Next?," "Off the Map," "Flying Home" and "Gold." David is currently writing and directing "The Museum of Broken Relationships" with composer Daniel Green.

"Meeting and collaborating with David has been one of those 'kismet' moments in the Playhouse's history. He has been vital in establishing the Playhouse's signature immersive style. He's also been an unbelievably valuable resource for both me and Carl [Menninger] in season planning, as we work to curate programming choices that will suit our audience-driven perspective," raved Rubenstein. "A long-time friend and sure to be life-long collaborator, I am thrilled to now formally welcome David into the Playhouse cohort."

Windy City Playhouse is a professional theater and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, located on Chicago's northwest side. Premiering in March of 2015 with a mission to present contemporary, relevant, and approach art, the Playhouse has quickly become a mainstay of the Chicago theater scene. In 2018, its runaway hit, the immersive SOUTHERN GOTHIC, solidified the Playhouse as the first choice in Chicago theater for one-of-a-kind audience experience. "Experience driven. Audience first."

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