Thymely Theatre takes its name from a minor witticism.  It combines the noun “thyme” with the adjective “timely.” Thyme is an herb that is so effective medicinally that it cures internal maladies as well as cleans and nurtures externally.  It is not therefore an exaggeration that Thyme heals all wounds. A “timely theatre” holds up a mirror to its own time.   Thymely Theatre presents plays that tell us about our time; plays that nurture what is good in and for our time; plays filled with the flavor of a robust life.

The Stage Door

by Edna Ferber & George S. Kaufman
Summer 2008

The Fate of Actresses

Kaufman and Ferber's Stage Door opened on Broadway in October 1936, in the middle of the Great Depression, and not long after 'talkies' became the most easily affordable and democratic entertainment. That's why references to money will seem quaint to viewers some 70 years later. There's a 25¢ charge for a lost boarding house key, for example. An out of work actress works Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Macy's for the grandiose sum of  $18 per week. Working actresses, as characters in the play, receive a similar pittance—or less. And they worry about food and shelter constantly. Such worries must have seemed real to theatre audiences of the 1930s even though they, as viewers, probably weren't so harshly strapped. After all, Hooverville wasn't a mile away from the Winter Garden, where Stage Door made its five-month run. The meagerness of the sums mentioned in the play also must have seemed too real. That reality is made even more painful by the salary a Hollywood screenwriter admits to receiving: $2, 000 a week—an amount that even today may be enviable to a lot of folks. The Hollywood studio system took care of its best writers and star performers, but also, the characters in Stage Door know full well, of the minor performers and designers. They were paid weekly, the lowest at $5 a day, whether they worked or not.

The play establishes a choice, a dilemma, for show people: Hollywood, California, or Broadway, New York. Hollywood movies, while not a sure thing, seem to give actors and writers a regular income at the cost of creative input and expression.  Theatre on Broadway is a long shot that requires years of trudging to auditions, acting for pittances when a show opens, finding un-theatrical employment when a show inevitably folds, perhaps even using dating as a way to a regular meal; after such labor, though, there is still no assurance of success.
Thus, Stage Door is unabashedly a full frontal attack on Hollywood, which is viewed as a killer of true creativity and a purveyor of artistic mediocrity. Even the suave representative of Hollywood despises the system. All other representatives of Hollywood in the play are eminently callous and narrow minded or completely self-absorbed.  There are some historical ironies in this attack.
Both Ferber and Kaufman did well by Hollywood. Ferber's Show Boat, a best-selling novel, became an enormous financial and critical success as a Broadway musical (1927) and a more or less silent film (1929), and an even greater success as a musical film (1936) released just months before Stage Door opened.  Her novel  So Big had been made into a film (1932) and several of her other plays as well. Similarly, Kaufman's Broadway successes had found their way on to the silver screen: Dulcy  (1923), the Marx Brothers' The Cocoanuts (1929) and Animal Crackers (1930), The Royal Family of Broadway (1931), and Dinner at Eight (1933). Nor did either author steer away from Hollywood after this attack. Stage Door itself was adapted by Hollywood after its successful run. The irony mounts here because the script was completely refashioned, the plot changed, and all the criticism of Hollywood excised. Kaufman remarked on the film's premier that the piece should also have been renamed "Screen Door."
Nor did Brooks Atkinson, drama critic of the New York Times, overlook the irony of Kaufman's casting Margaret Sullavan, a Hollywood starlet of the time, as the lead actress in the play, who refuses the temptations of Hollywood, an actress who would starve for her art in New York theatre rather than lose her soul with success in Hollywood movies.
The dynamic of this choice has been, over time, enlarged to a tri-lemma, perhaps: theatre, movies, teevee. But really the question is much the same as when Kaufman and Ferber attacked the two-coastal divide. In short, what is to become of our theatres and the people who perform in them?
To Kaufman and Ferber, theatre offered engagement with issues. Theatre was an avenue to present alternative views of the value of our cultural preferences. Theatre offered more than sweet romances and easy villains, happy endings and the charming dance numbers of movies. It did all that too, but we must remember that the first production of the musical version of Ferber's Show Boat  was a groundbreaking event not merely in U.S. theatrical history, but in race relations in America. To Kaufman and Ferber, such serious issues were rare in U.S. films.
Of course, Stage Door provides an answer to the question it raises: Some will survive and some won't. One actress of mediocre talent becomes a Hollywood star, and one of great talent apparently becomes a Broadway star. But the other actresses in the play? Ay, there's the rub.  One marries and moves back to, of all places, Wisconsin. One gives up her career and becomes the grand dame of a boarding house. Others become cynical and bitter and perennially impecunious. Another occasionally tours the West Coast. One commits suicide. Yet, the play makes clear, hundreds of would-be performers arrive every week to set New York theatre aflame.
The accuracy of these answers hasn't changed. The likelihood of success for New York actresses and actors is still overwhelmingly on the side of impossible. The answers are apt for Chicago performers, too. But now the same choices even await the young hopefuls in Hollywood as film capital and Los Angeles as teevee hub.

As for theatre itself, well, New York's biggest hits are often produced by Hollywood moguls as adaptations (in extravaganza mode) of their large-budget, successful films.
Stage Door, unlike many of Kaufman's works and Ferber's works, has never been revived on Broadway.  Perhaps, it may be more relevant today than when it first opened.

    Patrick McGuire  University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Rasa Aliukonyti (Olga Brandt)
Amy Anderson (Madeleine Vauclain)
Herman Andrango, Jr. (Sam Hastings, Billy)
Kate Bailey (Mary McCune)
Whitney Behr (Susan Paige)
Andrew Berlien  (Frank, Larry, Fred Powell)
Allen Davis (Dr. Randall, Adolphe Gretzl)
Iris M. Feliciano (Bobby Melrose)
Laura Gryfinski (Mattie)
Kenneth Kirsch (Keith Burgess)
Cheryl Lyman (Mrs. Orcutt)
Jill Matel (Bernice Niemeyer)
Colleen McCready (Kendall Adams)
Pearl Paramadilok (Louise Mitchell)
Erin Rigik (Jean Maitland)
Amanda Rzany (Mary Harper)
Terra Schultz (Terry Randall)
Layla Schwartz (Kaye Hamilton)
Josh Winters (David Kingsley)
Kyle Young (Jimmy Devereaux)

Profiles (Cast)_____________________________

Rasa Aliukonyte (Olga Brandt) is excited to make her Stage Center Theatre debut  at Northeastern Illinois University. Rasa is Lithuanian, and came to the U.S. in 2002. Her enthusiasm for acting was born when she was in the play Palanga three years ago. She realized that theatre is a great tool to teach children a foreign language, and has directed several plays for the American born students to whom  she teaches Lithuanian at Lithuanian Maironis School. Her love for dance is as big as the appeal of the theater. In Chicago, she has been dancing in the Lithuanian folk group “Suktinis” which will be performing at the  Lithuanian World Dance Festival in Los Angeles, on July 6th. Smooches to her fiancé Tomas, and to all those around her. 

Jill Matel (Bernice Niemeyer) is excited to be   joining the Stage Center for the first time. A resident of Roger’s Park for the past two years, she studied Theatre and Dance at Barat College in Lake Forest. She  then moved to Milwaukee where she continued to be very active with the Shorewood Players, including acting as a Board Member for three years, also working with Soulstice Theatre Ltd., and Spotlight Productions. Since her move back to Chicago, Jill recently performed with Rising Stars Theater Company in their production of Grease as Cha Cha. Other favorite roles include: Nancy in Oliver, Roxy in Chicago, Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, Polly Peachum in Three Penny Opera , and Cinderella. Jill wishes to thank the cast and crew and her husband Brian, for always supporting her passion for the theater! LU

Whitney Behr (Susan Paige) is pleased to be returning to the stage after taking three years off to focus on school and to volunteer to rebuild the Gulf Coast for 8 months.  She was last seen as Tess in The Sisters Rosensweig up in Antioch, IL at P, M, & L Theatre in 2005.  She is an Environmental Studies major here at Northeastern who is looking forward to a career in being perpetually muddy.

Laura Gryfinski (Mattie) is in pursuit of a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a minor in History, as well as a second major in CMT here at NEIU. She is making her debut performance in Thymely Theatre’s Stage Door , although she has recently completed the Children’s Theatre Workshop’s ensemble performances of Monkey Magic: Chinese Story Theatre this past April. She worked extensively behind the scenes as Assistant Theatre Manager for Arcadia and has enjoyed performing in numerous community theatre productions for over 15 years. She thanks Anna for giving her this opportunity and is excited to be working with such a talented cast.

Amanda Rzany (Mary Harper) is thrilled to be returning to the Stage Center Theatre as Big Mary.  She is a biology major and a junior at Northeastern.  She has recently been seen in The Skin of Our Teeth where she played the part of Gladys, and Wiley and the Hairy Man in the Children's Theatre Workshop where she was involved in the ensemble.  She is extremely fortunate to have been given the chance to work with this cast and she would like to thank her friends and family for helping her along in her acting career.  Thanks guys.

Kate Bailey (Mary McCune) hails from Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she received her BA in theatre from LSU with a Performance concentration. In Louisiana, she appeared in Masterpieces, The Tempest, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Romeo and Juliet. Since being in Chicago, she has been a part of Suzan-Lori Park's 365 Days/365 Plays festival, and appeared in new works, The Tiniest Sound in Recorded History and Round Earth's Imagined Corners

Amy Anderson (Madeleine Vauclain) started acting in Chapel Hill, NC and has performed in lots of local theatres in lots of different places.  Most recently, Amy spent two years teaching 1st and 2nd grade and wrote and directed a play each year.  She is very happy to be acting again in Chicago.

Colleen McCready (Kendall Adams)  is a junior at Northeastern Illinois University.  She most recently appeared in the Children's Theatre Workshop performance of Monkey Magic - Chinese Story Theatre as the Monkey.  Colleen is elated to be making her Stage Center, Thymely Theatre debut.  She would like to thank her friends and family, especially Mark and Sebastian, for their support and love, and Anna for this wonderful opportunity.


Cheryl Lyman (Mrs. Orcutt) is thrilled to be cast in her third show at NEIU. She appeared in the spring production of Arcadia, and the fall performances of Mrs. Warren's Profession.. She was also seen last spring in Red Ink Productions of First Free's production of God's Favorite.. To her children, Alex, Katie and Aaron, she sends her love and gratitude for being such great kids, putting up with her schedule and her talking to herself. Above all, she sends her thanks to God for all the wonderful opportunities she  has been given.

Layla Schwartz (Kaye Hamilton) is pleased to be performing with the Thymely Theatre for the first time. Last fall she was seen as Abigail in Finding the Sun in the Stage Center Theatre's Studio Series. Favorite roles include Desdemona in When Shakespeare's Ladies Meet, Ann Geoghegan in The Whiteheaded Boy, and Donna Catte in Il Campiello. She is a recent graduate of Lawrence University where she earned a B.A. in Spanish and Theatre. Thanks to Anna for the opportunity. Love to her parents, sister, friends, and especially Evan.


Erin Rigik (Jean Maitland) is a graduate of Bradley University where she majored in theatre performance and minored in journalism and creative writing. Here in Chicago you will find her writing/editing by day and pursuing theatre at night. Last April she played Thomasina in Arcadia at the Stage Center Theatre. Most recently she performed at Looptopia with Tantalus Theatre Group, playing Roxanne in the company created Cyrano’s Devotion. Erin would like to thank her family, friends and co-workers for their support.


Pearl Paramadilok (Louise Mitchell) is making her theatrical debut at the Stage Center Theatre.  She is currently a student majoring in Marketing with a minor in theatre, but probably will be majoring in both.  She is very excited to begin with Stage Door and hopes you all enjoy.  A few of her hobbies include singing and writing plays.  If you wish to pronounce her name correctly, it sounds like Par-rah-mah-dee-lruk.  Good luck with that.


Iris M Feliciano (Bobby Melrose) is excited to make her Stage Center Theatre debut performance. She is a Communication, Media and Theater major at NEIU. She would like to thank Anna for this exciting opportunity, her family for their loving support, and the wonderful cast and crew.


Andrew Berlien (Frank/Larry/Fred Powell) returns to the Stage Center Theatre again after performing in Arcadia and Private Eyes this spring. In 2003 he was in Lend Me a Tenor and in 2004 The Real Inspector Hound. He is also the recipient of the 2003 Rebecca Ashley Thatcher Award for Excellence in Dramatics. A native son of his beloved City of Big Shoulders, Andrew has bided his time lurking in the  dangerous, murky, enticing waters of professional musicianship, and is delighted to once again take the stage with such a wonderful and dynamic cast. He would like to thank everyone involved with this production for the opportunity to shine. Oh, and Mom, Dad, all my loved ones...My shoes hurt for you too.


Terra Schultz (Terry Randall) is very excited to be back on the Thymely Theatre stage for this production.  Previous credits include The Pink Bedroom (Support Structure Chicago), Night Caps (Lincoln Square Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing and The Heidi Chronicles (Thymely Theatre), and Get Down(sized)!  (Venture Theatre). Terra is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.  Much love to Mom, Dad, Grandma, Cheryl and Chad for their support in all her endeavors and many thanks to Anna for this great opportunity.


Herman Andrango Jr. (Sam Hastings/Billy) is currently a junior at NEIU majoring in Communication and minoring in Theatre. He is an avid hiker, swimmer and runner. Herman was born and raised in Chicago, and has always shown an interest in performing in the theater; however, he  only recently decided to pursue acting as more than just an interest. Herman recently performed in the Children’s Theater Workshop production of  Monkey Magic and is excited to be performing again. 


Kyle Young (Jimmy Devereaux) is re-appearing on the Stage Center Theatre stage. His previous shows include Three Cuckolds, Mrs. Warren’s Profession and The Skin of Our Teeth as well as stage managing Private Eyes and Arcadia.


Charles Schoenherr (Lou Milhauser) is a   2000 graduate of the University of Illinois Acting Studio and is pleased to be working with Thymely  Theater.  Past roles include: Bob Cratchit  in A Christmas Carole and Huck Finn  in Sounding The River (Milwaukee Repertory
Theater), Don John  in
Much Ado About Nothing and Lucky in Waiting For Godot (Signal Ensemble Theater), as well as Thomas Putnam in The Crucible (Speaking Ring Theater Company).  Thank you Colleen, for thinking of me.


Josh Wintersteen (David Kingsley)  is a 2006 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay and a recent addition to the city of Chicago’s theatre scene.  With a degree in theatrical performance, Josh’s list of past credits includes such shows as The Importance of Being Earnest, Noises Off, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Our Town, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Laramie Project, and The Foreigner.    Summer 2007, Josh performed with Thymely Theatre for the first time, acting in The Heidi Chronicles and The Lady's Not for Burning, and is quite happy to be back working with Anna, Terra, and the awesome cast and crew of Stage Door.  Thanks to family (Mom, Dad, Tishy & Mike) and friends for all the support- hope you enjoy the show!


Kenneth Kirschnick (Keith Burgess) is currently pursuing two Bachelor’s Degrees.  The first degree is in Communication, Media and Theatre with an emphasis on Media.  The second degree is in History.  He has worked for cable television, radio, and local newspapers.  He has been involved with various theatre productions, a few films, and one commercial.  Kenneth says acting is just a hobby for now, but his future is wide open.  He says he is usually blowing in the same direction as the wind and going with the flow with no set direction.  He is the author of Jails, Institutions, and Death. He has performed in Oliver, Homesick, Wages of Sin, The Other Side of Capone, Wit and Wilder: Three One Acts by Thornton Wilder, Buried Child and he portrayed an instructor in a commercial.  He knows his best performances can be attributed to his fellow actors that he joins on stage.


Allen Davis (Dr. Randall/Adolph Gretzel) graduated with a Master's degree in Communication from Northeastern Illinois University.  He has appeared in numerous productions here at the Stage Center Theatre, as well as working with the A Red Orchid Theatre, August Ensemble, Fourth Wall, Marquee Theatre Company, and Thymely Theatre.  Some of his favorite roles were Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace, Gately in Pvt. Wars, and Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing.  Allen would like to take this time to thank everyone for their support and understanding.  Enjoy the show.


Profiles (Production Crew)_____________________________

Anna Antaramian (Director) has been a member of NEIU’s theatre faculty for the past eighteen years.  She is the Managing and Artistic Director of the Stage Center Theatre and is a past president of the Illinois Theatre Association.  She  holds an M.F.A. from New York University and has worked in various theatrical venues across the country, the most recent being the Rocky Mountain Repertory  Theatre. Special thanks to H-S-A-N-T and, as always, Mr. McGuire

Jessica Kuehnau (Scenic Designer) is pleased to be designing sets for the Stage Center Theatre. Since completing her MFA in Scenic and Costume Design at Northwestern University, she has been designing sets and costumes for such notable theatres as Lifeline Theatre, MPAACT, The Griffin, Vittum Theatre, Light Opera Works and Metropolis Performing Arts Center. Ms. Kuehnau is also the resident set designer, technical director and design professor at North Park.  University.

Chad M. Lussier (Technical Director) is thrilled to be joining NEIU for the summer.  Some of Chad’s notable work include:  Scenic Designer/Technical Director for the inaugural season of Festival 56, Master Electrician for Milwaukee Shakespeare’s production of Macbeth and Twelfth Night and the Assistant Technical Director of the Wilson Center in Brookfield, WI.  Chad would like to thank his Mother & Father and his beautiful Lady friend/fiancee Terra.


John Rodriguez (Lighting Designer) joined the theatre faculty at Northeastern four years ago and has been teaching courses in technical theatre as well as working as a designer on Stage Center productions.  This past season he designed the lights for the four main stage productions: Mrs. Warren’s Profession, The Skin of Our Teeth, Private Eyes and Arcadia.


Kyle Young (Stage Manager) has recently come to the realization that he is not the Lothario he always imagined he was during this past Lent when he gave up self-denial. Kyle has decided to fustigate his inner soul further by stage managing his third show in a row, squelching all sense of perspicacity he thought he had, slowly turning Kyle into a disheveled derelict. Kyle has been a part of a number of shows at Northeastern, but this is his first show with the Thymely Theatre, and he would like to thank Rodney, Dan, Bill and Anna.


Ellen M Kozak (Costume Designer) is glad to be joining the cast of Stage Door in reliving the 1930’s. Ellen’s design work has taken her from Adam & Eve to speculative visions of the future. She has designed for many theatre companies across the nation, including the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, GeVa Theatre in Rochester, New York, The Intiman in Seattle and Center Stage in Baltimore. Other design projects were for films, videos, conventions, industrials, cruise ships, mascots, and photography sessions. Ellen spent the past two years teaching students at UW-Milwaukee and Marquette. It has been fun seeing the next generation of theatre technicians in the making. Variety is the spice of life and theatre is certainly full of variety.


Kathy Smith (Assistant Costume Designer)  is pleased to be working along side her dear friend and mentor, designer Ellen Kozak, for this production of "Stage Door". She has been designing and building costumes for Theatres throughout Wisconsin for many years. Theatre is Kathy’s first love but she also enjoys working as a Wardrobe Stylist for Television Commercials and Touring Shows.


Return to the Home Page of the Stage Center Theatre

Go to the Scrapbook of the Stage Center Theatre