Sweet Home Chicago… (Avenue Project)

Friends, I am so thrilled to let you know that next week I am acting in the world premiere play, John and Shawn’s Summer Vacation, by emerging playwright Lamonte at the Pillsbury House Theatre here in Minneapolis.

You mean you haven’t heard of this play? Or of Lamonte? Well, you will. It may be twenty years from now, but you will! That’s because Lamonte is a playwright with the Chicago Avenue Project – a really wonderful event that teams young children with playwright-mentors to write a play all of their own. The kicker then, is that professional directors and actors are brought on board to bring these visions to life. Leave it to the uninhibited imagination of children to come up with the zaniest stories you’ll ever see. Included in next week’s line-up, for instance are such titles as The Haunted Principal’s Office and Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream. Sounds pretty great, eh? I sure have had a blast bringing my own play to life.

The theme of this years Chicago Avenue Project.

That play, John and Shawn’s Summer Vacation, concerns two twin brothers who desperately want to go to Disney World but when their mom informs them that they will need to raise the money themselves, they quickly form a plan to mow lawns in the neighborhood. Of course things turn out for the duo but Lamonte has such a keen eye for his age and sense of what he wants (I hope he googles his name one day and reads this), that he is able to develop arcs for both characters in just six pages. For my part, I am trying to have some serious fun singing and dancing to the Mickey Mouse theme song and mowing some tenacious turf to “Eye of the Tiger”.

My show, however, is just one in an evening of ten plays that I would urge everyone to come see! The work put into these scripts is astounding and the kids really do tremendous work and are beyond excited. I mean, they are literally bouncing off the walls every time I see them. Calm down. (But not really.)

Here’s my info below but a link to the whole evening here at Pillsbury House Theatre.

Lamonte’s Play: John and Shawn’s Summer Vacation
Playwright Mentor: James Tyler
Directed by Addie Gorlin
Starring Vincent Hannam and Michael Hanna

NOVEMBER 2 and 3, 2015

MONDAY at 7:00 PM and TUESDAY at 4:00 and 7:00 pm

at Pillsbury House Theatre, 3501 Chicago Avenue S., Minneapolis

Admission is FREE — just show up!


Ivey! Ivey! Ivey!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Ivey Awards were last month so I’m way late on this headline but I figured, “hey, it’s still news worthy right?”  RIGHT? Right.


So for those of you who don’t know, the Ivey Awards are the theatre awards given out to honor live, professional theatre in the Twin Cities but unlike the Tony Awards (or any other equivalent ceremonies), there are no nominees and nobody knows the winner of each category until… right… when… it’s… announced. The system is certainly unique and has its critics, but I found it to prevail in the core message of there are no winners or losers, just one big happy family of extremely devoted and ferocious artists. As for Diana and I’s place in that family, we may be knew, but we were soaking it up like nobody’s business with the Girl Friday crew representing our show from the summer, The Matchmaker. No, we didn’t win anything, but remember… it’s not about that 🙂

The Matchmaker (2)

What it WAS about was dressing to the nines and milling around the State Theatre in a huge throng of people in suits and dresses and taking photos and sipping from flasks and just having a blast! Then once we were inside, Diana and I made our way to what we thought were our seats and plunked down in the second row. Yes, we thought it was strange none of our compadres were sitting with us, but hey, we weren’t going to give up these prime seats and we didn’t have to! We really lucked out and were able to witness funny skits, glorious musical numbers and the one and only Joe Dowling accept the Lifetime Achievement Award. Afterwards we ran into Team Matchmaker and only then did our seating faux-pas reveal itself to us.

Ivey Awards (1)
Sorry, not sorry!

Following the show, the thespian swarm buzzed over to the after-party where I got to hang out with many good friends and loosen the tie a little bit. They say it’s like “theatre prom” but I had way more fun that night than I did at my actual prom. What I would compare it to would be the closing night ceremonies of the State Thespian Festival back home every year in high school, where you’d have an award ceremony but everyone’s just chomping at the bit to hit the dance floor.

Thespian Festival, 2009
Thespian Festival, circa 2009

Those nights were always so special- and last month’s Ivies brought those same feelings back. I felt extreme gratitude and pride in being a part of such a rich, diverse and HUGE theatre community. Seriously, everyone is so dedicated to making good work here that I am beyond thankful in being able to join in the fun. Can’t wait until next year and all the plays in between!

Ivey Awards

Ivey Awards (2)