New American Folk Theatre is pleased to present the world premiere musical MY LIFE IS A COUNTRY SONG by Co-Artistic Director Anthony Whitaker, the story of a woman starting her life over after a failed and abusive marriage in early 1980s South Carolina. Directed by Company Member Sarah Gise* with music direction by Joey Harbert, this new musical features a score inspired by country music of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and explores how family and chosen family can save us from ourselves.
MY LIFE IS A COUNTRY SONG will play a limited three-week run November 1 – 21, 2019 at Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant, 3471 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago. Tickets go on sale Sunday, October 6 at newamericanfolktheatre.org. The press opening Sunday, November 3 at 6 pm.
The cast includes NAFT Company Members Kelly Combs*, Charlie Irving* and Kirk Jackson* with Lena Dudley, Joey Harbert and Judy Lea Steele.
It’s 1980 in Greenville, South Carolina and Donna has found herself in a country song cliché – she left her abusive husband, moved into a house of her own, and for the first time is in control of her life. But the trauma of her past keeps haunting her and Donna finds that her life is becoming a song she’s heard too many times. This actor-musician based musical tells the story of moving on after a failed marriage and the support system that can come from good friends and family. With Donna at the lead, a country band takes you through her lessons of redemption and hope.
The production team includes Peter Gertas (scenic and props design), Kate Setzer Kamphausen (costume design) and Claire Yearman (fight choreography).
Special thanks to costume partner OUTSKIRTS Vintage.
Title: MY LIFE IS A COUNTRY SONG
Book, Music, Lyrics Anthony Whitaker*
Director: Company Member Sarah Gise*
Music Director: Joey Harbert
Cast (in alphabetical order): Kelly Combs* (Donna), Lena Dudley (Jackie), Joey Harbert (Freddy), Charlie Irving* (Alma), Kirk Jackson* (Gary) and Judy Lea Steele (Shirley).
Location: Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant (2nd floor), 3471 N. Elston Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Friday, November 1 at 8 pm
Press performance: Sunday, November 3 at 6 pm
Regular run: Monday, November 4 – Thursday, November 21, 2019
Curtain Times: Sundays at 6 pm; Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm
Tickets: Previews: $10. Regular run: $20. Tickets go on sale Sunday, October 6 at newamericanfolktheatre.org.
*Denotes New American Folk Theatre Company Members
About the Artists
Anthony Whitaker (Book, Music, Lyrics) has been acting, singing, playwriting and songwriting in Chicago for the past couple of decades. In addition to performing, Anthony has taught music and theatre in elementary and junior high schools in the public and Catholic School systems, and has directed over thirty school productions. Anthony is the Co-Artistic Director of the New American Folk Theatre, where he wrote, directed or performed in Two from the Trailer Court: Dirty Girl and Salome Goes All the Way!, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Dark of the Moon, Johnny Drago’s Trash and the Midwest premieres of Deep In The Heart of Tuna and Hot Pink Or Ready To Blow. He also directed the Jeff Award nominated The Summer of Daisy Fay, in association with Redtwist Theatre. He is currently in rehearsal for Cabaret, where he will play Herr Schultz, with Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre.
Sarah Gise (Director) is so happy to be a company member with New American Folk Theatre. She holds a BFA in acting from the University of Southern California (USC) and in 2013 received the LA Weekly Best Actress Award for her performance in The Belle of Belfast. She is also an ensemble member with Interrobang Theatre Project, where she was most recently seen acting in the U.S. premiere of Out of Love. In addition to theatre, she has appeared in several web series, films and commercials, and is a voiceover artist having narrated over two dozen audiobooks. She is happily represented by DDO Chicago. With NAFT, she has been seen in Dark of the Moon and Dirty Girl, and her directing credits include The Break Up Play (Scared Sh!tless Festival).
Joey Harbert (Music Director) is pleased to make his Chicago Music Directorial debut with New American Folk Theatre. Back in Oklahoma, he had the opportunity to work on shows such as Dogfight, Grass Harp, Beauty and the Beast and Rising Starr, to name a few. Outside of musical direction, he was fortunate enough to be a part of the 2018 production of Haymarket with Underscore Theatre as the bomb-slinger Louis Lingg. He graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's of Music in Musical Theatre where he studied performance as well as musical direction under Mariann Searle and Dr. Sandra Thompson. He has experience composing music and performs as a singer/songwriter on occasion. As an instrumentalist, he has played most notably played for the pits of Dogfight, Grass Harp and Into the Woods. Joey is passionate about new musicals and is excited to be a part of Country Song's journey.
About New American Folk Theatre
New American Folk Theatre is dedicated to folk theatre, music, education, and stories that shine a new light on the American tale. We strive to educate the public on works worthy of inclusion to the American theatrical canon. Using the resources around us, we create art that often dives into a mix of magical realism, southern gothic, pop culture, and the irreverent. We produce impactful theatre and artistic projects that help us learn and grow as a society. For additional information, visit newamericanfolktheatre.org.
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