As the song says, there’s “something for everyone” during 2018-2019 season of The Drama Group, a mainstay of the south suburban theater scene for 88 years.
That classic melody that opens “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” – one of the ensemble’s offerings this year – says it all. From side-splitting humor to life’s hardships to unforgettable songs, The Drama Group is presenting plays that cover a wide range of the human experience.
Disco dancing nuns pitted against dangerous gangsters. A family fighting to retain its dignity on Chicago’s South Side. A trip to ancient Rome in one of the funniest musicals ever written. Five sisters struggling to survive the poverty of 1930s Ireland. A vibrant New York City community where the biggest struggles deal with which traditions you take with you and which ones you leave behind. And a fun-filled night of laughs with actors from the British Isles.
The season opens Oct. 12 with “Sister Act,” followed by “Dancing at Lughnasa,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and” “In the Heights.”
Also, during the summer of 2019, The Drama Group will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Exchange Program with The Stables Theatre in Hastings, England. For the first time, both theatre companies will share the stage for four weeks. This collaboration will be performed here in the U.S. for two weeks and transfer to England for the final two weeks.
Season ticket information is available at the box office at 708-755-3444. More details and audition dates can be found on the company’s webite, www.dramagroup.org.
From its home base at the Milord Studio Theatre in Chicago Heights, The Drama Group has attracted actors and other company members from Homewood, Flossmoor and other south suburban towns. There are approximately 28 members of the company — actors, directors, musicians, technical support and administrators – from the H-F communities. More than 15 other communities are represented, from Chicago Heights to Robbins and from Beecher to New Lenox. The current Drama Group company has about 200 members.
“We continue to bring Broadway to the South Suburbs for our audiences’ enjoyment,” said Tina Zagone, the company’s head of marketing and publicity. “Included in that goal, The Drama Group strives to celebrate and foster a melting pot of creativity through our mission of deliberate inclusivity, reflecting the demographics of the surrounding communities.
“It gives us two important aspects to consider – a connection to a larger audience and membership and an insight to the nature of the plays that are being directed.”
Each play will be presented seven times over the course of two weekends.
Two new directors are making their debut this season, Zagone said.
Darcelle Williams is directing “Sister Act.” As an actor with The Drama Group, Williams was featured in “Hairspray” and “Ragtime.” A retired teacher, Williams has directed more than 30 productions.
“A Raisin in the Sun” will be directed by Michael DePriest Reed. Reed, a Drama Group board member, has shared his talents with the theater ensemble both on and off stage.
“We welcome Darcelle and Michael and the insights they will bring to these productions,” Zagone said.
“Sister Act,” a musical based on the hit movie, has music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater. It is being presented in a partnership with SAMBA, the Southland Arts Municipalities Businesses Alliance.
“Dancing at Lughnasa,” by renowned Irish playwright Brian Friel, opens Dec. 7.
“A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry, opens Feb. 15. It was proclaimed the best play of 1959 by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle.
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, opens April 26.
The Stable Theatre Exchange opens June 7.
“In the Heights” opens Aug. 2. Its music and lyrics are by Lin Manuel-Miranda, the creator of “Hamilton.”
Zagone said the Stables Theatre Exchange began in 1999 when the company members who lived and performed in England and the United States decided to explore the similarities and differences in theatre performed on “both sides of the pond.”
The exchange has gone on ever since, with each theater group providing housing for the visiting actors and crew.
“The Drama Group and The Stables Theatre can boast that we have one of the longest lasting theatre exchange programs on either continent,” she said.