JULY 5 – AUGUST 18, 2024

THE LAST WIDE OPEN

WORLD PREMIERE WITH POLISH LANGUAGE
supported in part by

Book & lyrics by Audrey Cefaly
Music by Matthew M. Nielson
Polish adaptation by Artistic Affiliate Katarzyna Müller
Directed by Ensemble member Gwendolyn Whiteside
Music directed by Ensemble member Michael Mahler

A diner. 10PM. Chicago.
What if you found your person, but the timing was off? Three times!
Lina and Mikołaj’s lives intersect and parallel as three alternate realities unfold in this beautiful love story with music. This worn out waitress and immigrant dishwasher show us the mystical ways the universe conspires to bring us all together.

You’ll be charmed by this quirky, heartfelt, made-for-Chicago world premiere! If you like “Groundhog Day” and “Sliding Doors”, you won’t want to miss this must-see romantic comedy in our intimate studio! Very limited seating.

Read Backstage Guide and welcome from the Executive Artistic Director (both coming soon).

Read our digital program (coming soon).

PERFORMANCE INFO

5627 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago 60659

Box Office: (773) 654-3103

Runs 80 minutes with no intermission
Tickets range $25-$65
Recommended for ages 12+

Read Frequently Asked Questions

Schedule:
Thursdays: 7:30 PM
Fridays: 7:30 PM
Saturdays: 4:30 PM (except July 6, 20, 27) & 7:30 PM (except July 13 & Aug 3)
Sundays: 2:30 PM

Wednesday matinees @ 2:00 PM (July 24 & 31 only)

Photography to be provided by Michael Brosilow; Video by Stage Channel.

ARTISTS

CAST: Michael Mahler* (Mikołaj), Dara Cameron* (Lina), & J.G. Smith* (Stagehand).

PRODUCTION TEAM: Audrey Cefaly (book & lyrics), Matthew M. Nielson (music), Katarzyna Müller* (Polish adaptation & consultant), Gwendolyn Whiteside* (director), Michael Mahler* (music director), Grant Sabin* (co-scenic design), Marcus Klein (co-scenic design & scenic charge), Katy Viccellio (lighting design), Christopher Neville* (costume design), Rick Sims* (sound design), Elyse Dolan* (properties & set dressing), Matilda Szydagis (dialect coach), Richard Lundy (stage manager), Michael Trudeau* (facilities manager & technical director), Rachel West* (lighting supervisor), Lily Walls* (wardrobe supervisor), and Joe Court (audio supervisor).

*Ensemble member or Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater.

CAST BIOGRAPHIES

DARA CAMERON (Lina) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. Favorite credits include It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! (Jeff nomination Ensemble), The Spitfire Grill (Jeff nomination) and Little Shop of Horrors (American Blues Theater); Old Jews Telling Jokes (Royal George and Off-Broadway); The Secret of My Success (Paramount Theatre); Elf, Hero (Jeff nomination), South Pacific, October Sky, Sister Act, City of Angels, Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz, Fiddler on the Roof (Marriott Theatre); Addams Family (Mercury Theater); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Theatre at the Center), and Sunset Boulevard, Seussical, and Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story (Drury Lane Theatre)She is a graduate of Northwestern University and a member of Actors’ Equity. 

 

MICHAEL MAHLER (Mikolaj) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues. Past Blues productions: It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! (Jeff nomination – Production & Ensemble), Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story (Jeff Award – Best Music Direction), Little Shop of HorrorsHank Williams: Lost Highway, and Side Man. Other recent roles include The Baker in Into the Woods (Writers); Jim Hardy in Holiday Inn, and Jack Singer in Honeymoon in Vegas (Marriott Theatre). Michael co-wrote the songs for the Netflix movie My Little Pony: A New Generation and contributed additional lyrics to Cameron Mackintosh’s most recent Broadway production of Miss Saigon. Other works as a composer/lyricist include The Secret of My SuccessMiracle (Jeff Award – Best New Work), Diary of a Wimpy KidOctober SkyThe Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes (Jeff Award – Best New Work), and Hero (Jeff Award – Best New Work). Michael is married to fellow Ensemble Member Dara Cameron and proud father to their son Ezra.

J.G. SMITH (Stagehand) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. You may have seen her performing with Blues in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, On Clover RoadRipped, and virtual readings of The Cratchits (in America), The Thanksgiving Play and On the Greenbelt. Theatre: I And You (Peninsula Players); Mother of the Maid (Northlight); Plantation! (Lookingglass); The Art of Sisters (Vision Productions); MARYSHELLEYSHOW (National Tour, Chicago Fringe, TheTankNYC); Peter and the Starcatcher (City Equity Theatre); Alice in WonderlandAs You Like ItKing LearA Christmas Carol (Alabama Shakespeare); and Censored on Final Approach (The GYM at Judson). Film/TV credits include Jennifer Reeder’s Knives and Skin, MTV’s Short Comings, The Dancing Monkey, Dreaming Grand Avenue, Pry Me Open, and Dorm Therapy. Her original films and performance art have shown at New Orleans’ Hell Yes Film Festival, Williamsburg Circus, Salonathon!, Undiscovered Countries: The Infinite Fest, and TransVisions’ virtual SOFT PALETTE festival. She is a proud Equity member and repped by Paonessa Talent Agency. AEA. jgsmithactor.com

PRODUCTION TEAM BIOGRAPHIES

AUDREY CEFALY (Book & Lyrics) – Her plays include The Gulf (Edgerton, Lammy, Charles MacArthur Nominee), Alabaster (NNPN Record-Breaking RWP, Kilroys, Calicchio Prize, and Pulitzer-Prize Nominee), Maytag VirginThe Last Wide Open, The Story of Walter, Tell Me Something GoodTrouble (Blue Ink Featured Finalist), and Love is a Blue Tick Hound. Cefaly is a Dramatist Guild Foundation Traveling Master. She is published by Concord Theatricals and TRW and her plays have been produced by Cincinnati Playhouse, Florida Studio, Florida Rep, City Theatre, Penobscot Theatre, Gulfshore Playhouse, Merrimack Rep, Signature Theatre, Barter Theatre, Peterborough Players, Vermont Stage, and countless others. Her play Alabaster received a 10-city Rolling World Premiere, the largest in NNPN history.

MATTHEW M. NIELSON (Music) – Off-Broadway sound design and original music credits include The Public Theater/NYSF, Lincoln Center Theater and 59E59 Theaters. Regional credits include Denver Center Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Ford’s Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Barrington Stage, Round House Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, Theater Alliance, Olney Theatre and Contemporary American Theater Festival. Film and television credits include Death in TimeElbow GreaseBlueEpix Drive-In, From Hell to Here and Too Like the Lightning. Matthew is the creator of the audio drama series Troublesome Gap. He has won several awards for his work in the Washington, DC area, regionally and in film. He is currently enrolled in the Songwriting and Music Production program with the Berklee College of Music Online. Samples can be heard online at CuriousMusic.com.

KATARZYNA (KATHY) MÜLLER (Polish Adaptation & Consultant) – is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. She was born in Poland and grew up on the South Side of Chicago. English is her second language. As an emerging playwright, she writes and workshops plays in Chicago and New York. Kathy also works in other media, including award-winning short films. Most recently, her short screenplay Again (Znovu) has been recognized internationally: Best First-Time Screenwriter, Košice International Film Festival (Slovakia); Runner-up, Best Short Screenplay, Polish International Film Festival (Poland); Finalist, Big Apple Film Festival (NYC); Official Selection, Pasadena International Film Festival; among others. Artistic Affiliate, American Blues Theater. BA, PhD, University of Chicago. Love to Georg and Oskar. Many thanks to Wendy and Audrey for trusting me with this beautiful play!

GWENDOLYN WHITESIDE (Executive Artistic Director/Director) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater and has served as Executive Artistic Director since 2010. In her tenure, she created the nationally-recognized Blue Ink Playwriting Award and new work development program, implemented community service into the company’s mission in 2010, and adapted the arts education programs. She led American Blues through its reorganization in 2009, building the operational budget from zero to $1 million. She secured the company’s first-ever operating reserve, endowment, and permanent home. Whiteside served on numerous panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and sat on the Board of Directors for Network of Ensemble Theaters and League of Chicago Theatres. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University (BS), The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA), and a Kellogg Executive Scholar in Nonprofit management (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University). As a producer, she’s received 15 Joseph Jefferson nominations or awards. As an actress, she’s received 5 Joseph Jefferson Awards, Citations, and nominations; 2 After Dark Awards; and 1 Broadway World Chicago Award. She directs Chicago’s holiday staple It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!.

MICHAEL MAHLER (Music Director) see CAST.

GRANT SABIN (Co-Scenic Design) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He returns to American Blues after his 15th year designing It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!. A native of rural Illinois, Grant blends his rural roots with urban art. He’s a recipient of the 2015 Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award. He is known throughout Chicago for his keen eye in capturing atmospheric detail and his ability to design “impressively executed sets” on a storefront-theater budget. His designs have been seen at Northlight, Victory Gardens, Steppenwolf, Next, The Royal George, McCarter Theater NJ, Overture Center WI, Theatre Wit, Gallagher Bluedorn IA, American Blues, ATC, The House, The Hypocrites, Christina Isabelle Dance, The Seldoms Dance, and A Red Orchid. He was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for his designs of American Blues Theater’s Yankee Tavern, A Red Orchid’s production of The Sea Horse, and Dog & Pony’s production of Mr. Marmalade. He was recently named one of the Top 50 Players in Chicago Theatre by New City Magazine. Grant is currently a full-time faculty member at Columbia College Chicago.

MARCUS KLEIN (Co-Scenic Design & Scenic Charge) – is a Chicago-based scenic designer and scenic artist. He’s a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where he received a BA in Theatre Design and Technology with a focus in Scenic Design. His recent work includes designs for Babes With Blades Theatre Company, Strawdog Theatre Company, Ovation Academy, and MVCC, as well as paint work for Steppenwolf, A Red Orchid Theatre, Young People’s Theatre of Chicago, and BRAVO Performing Arts. He’s thrilled to be working with American Blues for the first time!

KATY PETERSON VICCELLIO (Lighting Design) has designed lighting and scenery throughout the United States for over 20 years. Favorite Chicago shows include It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! with American Blues; Playing With Fire and I Am My Own Wife (Jeff nomination) with BoHo Theatre, and over seven seasons of the Emmy-winning Lighting/Production Design team for The Oprah Winfrey Show. She practices architecture in Columbus, Ohio at an international design firm and teaches architecture studio classes at The Ohio State University. Her first building as a project architect won an AIA Ohio Honor Award and was featured in Metropolis magazine.

CHRISTOPHER J. NEVILLE (Costume Design) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. Previous Blues costume designs include It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, Hank Williams: Lost Highway (assistant), The RainmakerLooking Over the President’s ShoulderDutchman/TRANSit, and The Columnist. Christopher stitched and assistant designed at Victory Gardens Theater, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Chicago Opera Theater, Theatre at the Center, and Signal Ensemble Theatre.

RICK SIMS (Sound Design) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He has composed and designed sound for numerous Chicago-area theaters, including Steppenwolf Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company, American Blues Theater, Congo Square Theatre, Writers Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Hypocrites, House Theatre of Chicago, Court Theatre, American Theater Company, Victory Gardens Theater, Raven Theatre, Steep Theatre, Northlight Theatre, and About Face Theatre. His additional credits include The Getty, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, Playwrights Horizons, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Portland Playhouse. Rick won Jeff Awards for Sound Design for Moby Dick and Hepheastus (Lookingglass Theatre Company), a Black Theatre Alliance Award for Brothers in the Dust (Congo Square Theatre), and has received several nominations for both awards. Rick also wrote the book, music, and lyrics for Hillbilly Antigone at Lookingglass Theatre Company, where he is an Artistic Associate.

ELYSE DOLAN (Set Dressing / Properties Design) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater where she is also the Associate Artistic Director. Here at Blues she has directed The Thanksgiving Play as part of The Room reading series; several short plays in past editions of The Ripped Festival; staged readings in the annual Blue Ink Festival; and has been Assistant Director on a handful shows including Six Corners and Little Shop of Horrors. Other recent directing credits include the Zoom reading of Other Rockpools at The New Coordinates, the Chicago premiere of If/Then at Brown Paper Box Co., and Blackbird at Blank Theatre Company. Her directing work has been seen across Chicago at The New Coordinates, Broken Nose Theatre, Prop Thtr, Commission Theatre, Babes with Blades, 20% Theatre Company, and more. When not directing, her set dressing can be seen in the holiday hit It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater. Elyse holds a B.A. from Denison University.

MATILDA SZYDAGIS (Dialect Coach) – is a SAG Award winner known for playing Zelda on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” all five seasons. She was also Yaryna on “The Sopranos”. She’s performed in and directed many theatre productions in NYC. She penned and produced three award-winning short horror films (The Hoosac, The Ruins, The Dam), and upcoming feature horror film, Residue. She’s also illustrated and written three picture books including All Cats Speak Polish. Born and raised by her immigrant family on the South Side of Chicago in Marquette Park, she’s fluent in Polish. She graduated from The University of Chicago, and later studied with renowned acting teacher JoAnna Beckson. She is based in NYC. www.matildaszydagis.com

RICHARD LUNDY (Production Stage Manager) Chicago credits include: American Blues Theater: It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! & The Reclamation of Madison Hemings. Raven Theatre: Night Watch. Theater Wit: The Whistleblower. Mercury Theater: Clue. Venus Cabaret: Lady Day at Emerson’s…, Company. Timeline Theater: Paradise Blue, The Last Wife, Sunset Baby. Levin Productions: Assassination Theater. Next Theatre:16 productions including The Adding Machine: A Chamber Musical (World Premiere). Writers’ Theatre: Oh Coward!, The Maids. Famous Door: Suburban Motel, Porchlight: Meet John Doe. Also: Hypocrites, Northlight, Remains, Victory Gardens, Organic, Halstead Theatre, Wisdom Bridge. National tours: Miss Saigon (First National Company: Cameron Mackintosh). I Love Lucy Live! (David George). Regional: Olney Theatre Center: Miss You Like Hell, Oil. Also: Trinity Rep, Cleveland Playhouse, Shakespeare & Company, Folger Shakespeare. 37-year member of Actors Equity. 31-year husband of the remarkable Carmel Carroll.

MICHAEL TRUDEAU (Technical Director) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater and is thrilled to be working with Blues again.  Past Blues credits include Technical Director for It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! (2015-2017, 2021-2022), Yankee Tavern, Little Shop of Horrors, and Side Man, among others. Outside of American Blues, he works full time at Northwestern University as the Associate Lighting and Sound Supervisor for the Wirtz Center.

RACHEL WEST (Lighting Supervisor) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. Recent Blues credits include The Reclamation of Madison Hemings (co-Lighting Design),  Alma (Lighting Design), and Fences (Associate Lighting Design). She has been the Master Electrician for American Blues since 2018 and is now the Lighting Supervisor for our new home! Rachel is the Lighting Director for Porchlight Music Theatre and the Master Electrician for the Black Ensemble Theater. She is a Chicago-area native and a graduate of the Boston University School of Theatre.

LILY WALLS (Wardrobe Supervisor) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. Other Chicago companies she has worked with have included Haven (Science Fiction/Double Feature, Titus Andronicus), Midsummer Flight (Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Akvavit (Bad Girls, Rising Temperatures, Family Drama) and City Lit (Hound of the Baskervilles). She would like to thank her friends, family and community for the support and renewal they give, her husband Michael for everything, and August for being the best.

JOE COURT (Audio Supervisor) is a sound designer, engineer, and educator. His work has been heard in Chicago (TUTA, A Red Orchid, Mary-Arrchie, Emerald City, and many, many more), New York (59E59, Off-Broadway, NYC), Los Angeles (REDCAT at the Disney Concert Hall), McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, NJ), The Clarence Brown Theatre (Knoxville, TN.), Great Lakes Theatre (Cleveland, OH), Virginia Stage Company (Norfolk, VA), Actors Theatre of Indiana, and the Idaho, Lake Tahoe, and Illinois Shakespeare Festivals. As an educator he has taught at Virginia Tech, and the University of Chicago. Joe is an artistic associate with TUTA theatre, Chicago. From 2008 until 2016, Joe served as sound engineer for the Chicago production of the Tony Award-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet. He has received 3 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for his design work.

Coming soon!

COMMUNITY SERVICE

We raise awareness of other non-profit organizations’ great causes through creative collaborations. We’re proud to partner and amplify NAMI Chicago, Northwestern University’s The Family Institute, Polish American Association – Chicago, Polish Museum of America, and Polish-American Chamber of Commerce.

MORE INFORMATION ON THE LAST WIDE OPEN

Interview with Katarzyna Muller & Matilda Szydagis

Interview with Katarzyna Muller & Matilda Szydagis

We asked Artistic Affiliate Katarzyna Müller (Polish adaptation & consultant) and her sister Matilda Szydagis (dialect coach) a few questions. You can read their bios in PRODUCTION TEAM. How would you describe your childhood, growing up in Chicago on the South...

read more

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