Satiric comedy takes aim at homophobia in McCarthy-era Washington, D.C. Previews begin
Full casting was announced today by Associate Artistic Director Derek Van Barham for Pride Films and Plays’ Chicago premiere of PERFECT ARRANGEMENT, which Van Barham will direct. In Topher Payne’s comedy, it’s 1950, and new colors are being added to the Red Scare. Two U.S. State Department employees, Bob and Norma, have been tasked with identifying sexual deviants within their ranks. There’s just one problem: Both Bob and Norma are gay, and have married each other’s partners and moved next door to each other as a carefully constructed cover. Set amidst the earliest stirrings of the American gay rights movement, madcap classic sitcom-style laughs give way to provocative drama as two “All-American” couples are forced to stare down the closet door.
Reviewing the comedy’s 2015 Off-Broadway production by Primary Stages, THE NEW YORK TIMES called it a “clever canapé of a comedy…Mr. Payne is a deft and witty writer.” THE NEW YORKER said of it “As hiding gets harder, pitch-perfect comedy ensues: slamming doors, strange disguises, preposterous excuses …Eventually, the four must decide whether face-saving domestic lies are worth it, or whether ostracism beats living in fear. In our own era of surveillance and paranoia, their mid-century problems don’t feel so far away.”
Appearing as Bob will be Eric Lindahl, a Jeff Award winner and three-time Jeff nominee who has been seen in productions including ASSASSINS (Jeff Nomination, Kokandy); TITANIC (Griffin); SIDE SHOW (Jeff Award and After Dark Award, BoHo) and THE WHO’S TOMMY (Jeff nomination, Circle Theatre). Making her PFP debut as his co-worker Norma is Autumn Teague, whose Chicago credits include THE OTHER PLACE (Profiles) and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (The Arc). Bob and Norma’s secret significant others will be played by Lane Anthony Flores, acclaimed for his role in ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A FAGGOT for About Face; and Riley Mondragon, whose Chicago credits include I AM MY OWN WIFE (u/s, About Face), THE HEIDI CHRONICLES (Cuckoo’s), and CTRL+ALT-RIGHT+DELETE (GayCo) and was featured in NBCUniversal’s BREAK OUT COMEDY FESTIVAL.
Kelli Harrington, a two-time Jeff Award-winner (for THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA and ASPECTS OF LOVE with Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre) will play Barbara Grant – another State Department official who has something to lose. Harrington has been seen recently in THE ADDING MACHINE for The Hypocrites and SWEENEY TODD with Porchlight.
Completing the cast are Armando Reyes and Amber Snyder as Bob and Norma’s bombastic, uber-patriotic boss and his wife, Theodore and Kitty Sunderson. Additional casting includes Tommy Thurston (u/s Bob & Theodore), Christopher Young (u/s Jim), Kendra Verhage (u/s Millie & Kitty), and Shannon Webber (u/s Norma & Barbara).
The production team includes Scott Kloosterman (Assistant Director), Jenn Thompson (Stage Manager), G Max Maxin IV (Lighting Designer), Roger Wykes (Set Designer), Kallie Rolison (Sound Designer), Noel Huntzinger (Costume Designer), and Claire Stone (Props Design).
Derek Van Barham (Director) is the Associate Artistic Director of Pride Films & Plays, a member of the Red Tape Theatre ensemble, and a former Artistic Director of The Ruckus. For PFP, he has directed ANGRY FAGS (Steppenwolf Garage Repertory), SONGS FROM AN UNMADE BED (Jeff nomination: Best Director of a Musical or Revue), PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT: THE MUSICAL and Terrence McNally’s SOME MEN (co-directed by David Zak). He also wrote, directed and choreographed BITE: A PUCKING QUEER CABARET and KILL YOUR BOYFRIENDS. Other directing credits include THREE DAYS OF RAIN (Boho Theatre), MIRACLE! by Dan Savage and SKOOBY DON’T (Hell in a Handbag), TRASH and DEEP IN THE HEART OF TUNA (New American Folk Theatre), and FROM THESE FATAL LOINS (The Ruckus). He has choreographed for Black Button Eyes (CORALINE THE MUSICAL, GOBLIN MARKET, AMOUR), The Plagiarists, Inappropriate Theatre, Brain Surgeon Theatre, and Salonathon. He can currently be seen improvising with the LGBT team Baby Wine (Fridays at The Annoyance). He was recently named one of Windy City Times 30 Under 30, recognizing individuals from Chicago’s LGBTQ community.
Topher Payne (Playwright) In 2014, The American Theatre Critics Association awarded Topher Payne’s play PERFECT ARRANGEMENT the M. Elizabeth Osborn Prize for Best Play by an Emerging Playwright. The play went on to be produced Off-Broadway in 2015. His other works for the stage include EVELYN IN PURGATORY, SWELL PARTY and ANGRY FAGS. His new work, MORNINGSIDE, imagining a game of Get the Guests at a baby shower, premieres in Atlanta in October. Topher has scripted three films for The Hallmark Channel: MY SUMMER PRINCE, BROADCASTING CHRISTMAS, and the upcoming A GIFT TO REMEMBER. He also gave Melissa McCarthy a makeover in the film IDENTITY THIEF. Topher is a two-time winner of The Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award, and was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award nominee for PERFECT ARRANGEMENT. He has been named Atlanta’s Best Local Playwright by readers of CREATIVE LOAFING seven times, was named as one of “10 Playwrights You Should Know” by SOUTHERN THEATRE MAGAZINE, and received the 2016 Suzi Bass Award for Outstanding World Premiere for the holiday comedy LET NOTHING YOU DISMAY. He lives in Atlanta with his fella Daniel, plus a cat named Fred and a beagle named Daisy.