Archive for the ‘Shows’ Category

Wheaton Drama’s “The Addams Family” actress breaking new ground

Friday, September 6th, 2019

By: Elena Dansdill, September 2, 2019

After 88 years of providing theatre and arts for the community, Wheaton Drama is taking a step to open their doors to another group. Gretchen Gannon is the first deaf actor to work on a show at Wheaton Drama, and she’s blowing past everyone’s expectations. After deciding to return to theatre after a hiatus of almost 10 years, Gretchen realized many of the deaf theatres she previously worked at had folded, and auditioned for Wheaton Drama for the first time, landing an ensemble role in The Addams Family – A New Musical, playing September 13th – October 6th at Wheaton Drama’s Playhouse 111.

Gretchen Gannon plays an ancestor in The Addams Family – A New Musical

“Without the gracious forward thinking of Wheaton Drama to make their theatre accessible to the Deaf Community, none of this would be possible,” Gretchen said in an interview, “For example, hiring Sign Language Interpreters for rehearsals and performances.  The interpreter keeps me in the “Family” business at all times with whatever is going on at that moment.” Additionally, she says that technology like Facebook, which wasn’t around when she began doing theatre, has helped her by giving her a way to watch rehearsal videos over to nail down each step.

Gretchen’s interpreter, Patti Shore Kaden, is just as excited to be working on this show, stating that it’s an honor for both of them to be working for a theatre that’s never been accessible before. “Gretchen brings depth and creativity to this theatre,” said Patti, who’s worked for 30 years as an interpreter.  “People who come to the show will see this and be part of the magic.” Gretchen certainly does have a bit of magic that every actor needs. At rehearsal, Gretchen is the one high fiving and laughing with all the cast members, bringing out the best in them all. She says people have always seen her as an entertainer, making them smile and relax, and that’s what draws her to theatre.

Gretchen Gannon (center), rehearses a dance routine with the “ancestor” ensemble

            Besides casting their first deaf actor, Wheaton Drama is also offering an interpreter at four different performances of The Addams Family for  deaf and hard of hearing audiences. This is a huge step towards making Wheaton Drama more accessible, and one that needs to happen more often in community theatres, according to Gretchen. In some productions that perhaps offer one interpreted performance, Gretchen points out that only offering one show with an interpreter just doesn’t work and “lessens the opportunity for all people to see the show. The more options, the better,” she says.

            “The opportunity to make the show accessible was made possible in part by Gretchen’s talent and tenacity, the leadership of the production team for Addams Family, headed by director Dan Hitzemann, and by generous donations,” says Wheaton Drama president, Julie Kanturek. “Honestly, we didn’t set out to create a show inclusive for more audiences, but Gretchen blew the socks off our production team; they knew we had to have her, and we knew we needed to figure out how to make it happen.”  Creating a show with inclusivity involves hiring an interpreter for the rehearsals, and two interpreters for each performance to bring the show to life through sign language, costs the theatre hadn’t originally considered when budgeting the show. “Thankfully, before we’d even decided as a board to hire interpreters for four performances, we had the commitment of an anonymous donor to help make it happen. Since then, we reached out to Representative Terra Costa Howard, who has also generously agreed to help. The support of our community, both inside and outside our theater, is what is really special about this production. And it means Wheaton Drama is becoming even more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community – and to anyone who loves theatre.”

            The Addams Family – A New Musical opens at Wheaton Drama on Friday the 13th of September through October 6th, with performances on Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 3pm. Four performances of The Addams Family will be ASL (American Sign Language) interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing: Saturday 9/14 at 2 pm, Sunday 9/22 at 3 pm, Sunday 9/29 at 3 pm, and Saturday 10/5 at 7:30 pm. For tickets and more information, visit www.wheatondrama.org.

Auditions for “Moonlight and Magnolias”

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Wheaton Drama, Inc. (WDI) will hold auditions for Ron Hutchinson’s Moonlight and Magnolias on Sunday, September 15 and Monday September 16 starting at 7pm. Callbacks: Tuesday, September 17, also at 7pm. All at WDI’s Playhouse 111 (111 N Hale, Wheaton, Il 60172). Show runs November 15 – December 8, 2019.

(Loosely) Based on real events, this fast-paced comedy recreates the finalization of the 1939 screenplay for Gone with The Wind. The cast is three men and one woman, featuring producer David O. Selznick, screenwriter Ben Hecht, and director Victor Fleming, supported throughout by Selznicks’s intrepid assistant, Miss Poppenghul.

Five-minute audition slots are available by appointment only. For initial auditions, Director Doug Long would like to see 1-minute monologues, preferably memorized. Callbacks will feature scene work in various combinations of characters. Headshots are helpful – we can take pics at auditions if necessary.

To request an audition time or to ask questions, please write to the show’s email: wdimam2019@gmail.com and indicate a Sunday/Monday and/or early/late preference. We will do our best to accommodate your requests. No auditions will be scheduled after 9:45pm. Audition forms can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

Download Audition Forms Here (Word doc).

Available roles:

Ages are stage ages, not necessarily your age

  • David O. Selznick, 37 – Large man with a large personality. Controlling, enthusiastic film producer obsessing over his biggest project, Gone with the Wind.
  • Ben Hecht, 46 – Wise-cracking screenwriter, probably smaller than Selznick and Fleming. Dry wit, Midwestern, militant for Jewish causes. Brought in by Selznick to overhaul the screenplay for Gone with the Wind.
  • Victor Fleming, 50 –Tall, handsome, and robust, known as a “man’s director.” Pulled off The Wizard of Oz at MGM to direct Gone with the Wind for Selznick.
  • Miss Poppenghul – Could be 30s-60s. Selznick’s efficient and loyal secretary, probably the element that keeps her boss from breaking down. She has learned to hear his incessant questions not as condescension but as the paranoia that they reflect. 

Merry Mad Mid-Mod Cast Announced

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Wheaton Drama is thrilled to announce the cast for its December holiday show, “Merry Mad Mid-Mod”. Thanks to all who auditioned!

Garrett Ard
Jonathan Booth
Erin Creighton
Lisa Dawn Curran
Andy Dameron
Ben Dooley
Don Gingold
Mackenzie Grattan
Craig Gustafson
Mary Hefferman
Rod Kelly
Steven Krage
Jim Martin
Heather Miller
Julie Rodgers-Baker
Katy Smith
SarahAnn Sutter
Pam Turlow
Claire Yearman

The production will run December 13th through 15th. Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM, Sunday matinee at 3:00 PM. Tickets are available on the Wheaton Drama website: www.wheatondrama.org

Adult Theatre Workshop Weekend @ Wheaton Drama

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Love theatre but don’t have time to do a full show? Never been on stage and want to give it a try for the first time? Always wanted to try your hand at the technical side of theatre but were too nervous you wouldn’t know what you were doing? New to the area and have no idea what Wheaton Drama is all about? Well we have the perfect answer to all these questions and more! 

Join us for our second annual Adult Theatre Workshop Weekend. Participants can choose between:

  • Acting – including instruction in a bit of acting, singing and dancing, or
  • Technical Theatre – including stage managing, lights, sound, props and costumes.

We have fantastic instructors in each discipline here to help guide you on your journey throughout the weekend.

Our workshop weekend is:

Saturday, October 19, from 9AM – 4PM (with a break from 12 – 1 for lunch),

Sunday, October 20, from 1PM – 4:30PM

Monday, October 21, Dress Rehearsal at 7:30pm, and we would showcase our mini performance on

Tuesday, October 22, at 7PM at the monthly membership meeting. 

The cost of this workshop is $20, which covers the cost of a special workshop shirt and a small stipend to our teachers. 

Registration is open online at www.wheatondrama.org from August 5 – October 13. There are only 15 spots available for acting and 10 spots available for tech, so make sure to sign up TODAY. You do not want to miss out on this amazing new experience at WDI this fall. 

Cast of Addams Family Announced

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

Wheaton Drama is proud to announce the cast for their upcoming production of Addams Family – A New Musical. The cast of this funny, explosive, and upbeat musical includes:

Gomez – Mike Placzek

Morticia – Tracy Kay

Wednesday – Julia Roskopf

Pugsley  – Ali Martin

Fester – Glenn Leslie

Grandmama – Katy Smith

Lurch – Stuart Vance

Mal Bienke – Jim Martin

Alice Bienke – Kate Loeffler

Lucas Bienke – Mitch Karmis

Addams Ancestors

Salem Elizabeth

Jackson Gabel

Gretchen Gannon

Ed Garzaro

Taylor Gottsman

Drew Hartzell

Yvette Herczeg

Andy Kanturek

Renee Kosiarek

Elise Lech

Jessica Pouranfar

Geoffery Rommel

Riley Tomes

Lauren Werkmeister

Lauren Wood

The Addams Family is directed by Dan Hitzemann, assistant directed by Leah Rae Witt, musical direction by Amy Brockman, Choreography by Kate McIlvain, with production management by Pat Daly. Performances are Sept 13th – Oct 16th, and more information and tickets can be found at

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