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Pulitzer-Prize winning "Picnic" to open at TWS

Tom McGregor and Stephanie Grady are featured in "Picnic' opening April 24 at Theatre of Western Springs.
Tom McGregor and Stephanie Grady are featured in "Picnic' opening April 24 at Theatre of Western Springs.
The Theatre of Western Springs (TWS) presents William Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Picnic,” directed by TWS Artistic Director Rick Snyder. Performances take place April 24 to May 4, 2014, at the Theatre of Western Springs, 4384 Hampton Ave., Western Springs, IL.

Schedule:

•    8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays – April 24, 25, 26; May 1, 2, 3
•    2:30 p.m. Sundays, April 27, May 4
•    2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 26, May 3
•    7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 27

Winner of the New York Drama Critics Best Play of the Season, this classic love story is filled with humor, heart, insight and compassion. The place and time – a rural town a half century ago – are the only things that date “Picnic.” Its themes of personal discovery and the obsession with physical beauty are timeless and universal.

The annual Labor Day picnic provides a springboard for William Inge to look at small-town life in America’s heartland in the 1950s. A group of women, locked in their stereotypical roles, have their lives shaken by the arrival of Hal Carter, a handsome young drifter.

He ignites a variety of feelings. Madge’s sister, Millie, the intelligent tomboy with dreams of college and the big city, also feels the heat. Hal raises the protective instincts of neighbor Mrs. Potts and the suspicions of their mother Flo, as well as Rosemary, the unmarried schoolteacher who fears she will continue to live her life without someone to take care of her.

Thanks to Hal, everyone is affected, and nothing remains the same.

Inge examines stifling small-town society at a time when rigid assumptions about class, gender and sex were the norm. However, his brilliant use of language is not locked in the ‘50s. “Picnic” was, and is, a classic American play that still resonates with audiences today.

Tickets are $18 and $20. Call 708-246-3380 or visit www.theatreofwesternsprings.com.   


Artistic Director Rick Snyder

Rick Snyder is the artistic director of the Theatre of Western Springs where he most recently directed “Beautifully.”

As an actor, director and teacher, he has enjoyed nearly 40 years of professional experience in theater, television and film. For 30 years he has been an ensemble member of Steppenwolf Theater Company and as an actor, he’s appeared in over 40 productions there.

His many directing credits at Steppenwolf include “Orange Flower Water,” which received critical and audience acclaim both in Chicago and at the Galway Arts Festival in Ireland. He also directed “God of Carnage” at the Goodman Theatre.

Snyder won a Jeff Award for his direction of “Killer Joe” at Profiles Theatre. His other director's venues include American Theater Company, Northlight Theatre, Writers' Theatre and Strawdog Theatre.

In 2010, the Wall Street Journal named him "... one of the finest directors in Chicago."

Playwright William Inge

The small town of Independence, Kansas, had a profound influence on the young Inge, and he would later attribute his understanding of human behavior to growing up in this small town environment.

“I’ve often wondered how people raised in our great cities ever develop any knowledge of humankind,” Inge said. “People who grow up in small towns get to know each other so much more closely than they do in cities.”

Inge would later use this knowledge of small town life in many of his plays, most of which revolve around characters who are clearly products of small towns like Independence.

In 1943, Inge moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he worked as the drama and music critic for the St. Louis Times. It was there Inge became acquainted with Tennessee Williams. He accompanied Williams to a performance of his play, “The Glass Menagerie” in Chicago.

"I was terrifically moved by the play," Inge said. "I thought it was the finest play I had seen in many years. I went back to St. Louis and felt, ‘Well, I’ve got to write a play.’"

Within three months he had completed “Farther off from Heaven.” Inge returned to a teaching position at Washington University in St. Louis and began serious work on turning a fragmentary short story into a one act play. This work evolved into a play that earned Inge the title of most promising playwright of the 1950 Broadway season. The play was “Come Back, Little Sheba.”

In 1953, “Picnic” opened at The Music Box Theatre in New York City. It won a Pulitzer Prize, the Drama Critic Circle Award, the Outer Circle Award, and the Theatre Club Award. In 1956, Columbia Pictures released the film version of “Picnic,” directed by Joshua Logan and starring William Holden, Kim Novak and Rosalind Russell.

Inge’s next successes were “Bus Stop” and "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs."

CAST
Irma Kronkite – Karen Arnold of Westmont
Millie Owens – Lindsey Arquilla of Burr Ridge
Bomber – Tristan Collins of Woodridge
Howard Bevans – Mike DeKovic of Downers Grove
Madge Owens – Stephanie Grady of Wheaton
Rosemary Sydney – Kathy Kusper of Hinsdale
Alan Seymour – Jason McCargo of Western Springs
Hal Carter – Tom McGregor of Brookfield
Helen Potts – Cheryle McKay of Clarendon Hills
Flo Owens – Liz Steele of Western Springs
Christine Schoenwalder – Sue Wisthuff of La Grange


CREW
Director – Rick Snyder of Wheaton
Stage Manager - Denny Wise of Lisle
Assistant SM - Dave Bremer of Western Springs
Assistant SM – Carrie Cerri of La Grange
Production Coordinator - Mary Ellen Schutt of Westmont
Set Design - Mike Huth of La Grange Park
Props – Dennis Hudson of Western Springs
Props - Karla Hudson of Western Springs
Set Construction – Jon Mills of Elk Grove Village
Lights - Linda Bugielski of Indian Head Park
Set Painting - Angelee Johns of Hinsdale
Set Painting – Sue Wisthuff of La Grange
Set Dresser - Debbie Angelillo of Oak Brook
Costumes - Danna Durkin of Darien
Makeup - Debbie Angelillo of Oak Brook
Sound - Ed Barrow of Hinsdale
Dramaturg – Angelee Johns of Hinsdale
Publicity - Mike Bachmann of Western Springs
Hospitality - Carol Clarke of Hinsdale
Hospitality - Mark and Linda Cunningham of La Grange
Program - Ed Barrow of Hinsdale
Program - Denise D’Asto of Darien
Tech Director: Thad Hallstein of Chicago   



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