Chicago – Casting for Pride Films and Plays’ Chicago premiere of YANK! A WWII Love Story was announced today by David Zak, Executive Director of Pride Films and Plays. YANK! is the story of a midwestern boy who joins the Army during World War II, falls in love with another soldier in his squad and is later introduced to the gay underground of the Armed Services through a journalist for the Army magazine YANK. Zak will direct the musical, with Robert Ollis providing musical direction and Jenna Schoppe choreography.
Playing Stu, a scared kid who gets drafted in 1943, will be Matthew Huston, who appeared with Pride Films and Plays most recently in PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT. William Dwyer, who was Freddy Eynsford-Hill in Light Opera Works’ MY FAIR LADY last year, will play Mitch, the handsome soldier he meets and falls in love with. John Marshall Jr. (MAMMA MIA at Marriott and ALL SHOOK UP at Theater at the Center) has been cast as Artie, a self-assured gay reporter for “Yank – a magazine by and about servicemen.” Molly LeCaptain, who is currently appearing in BULLETS OVER BROADWAY with NightBlue Performing Arts and has had leading roles in A CHRISTMAS CAROL: THE MUSICAL and TOMATO QUEEN with Quest Ensemble Theatre, will play all the women’s roles – including girlfriends, a military career-woman, and popular radio singers of the era.
The cast will also include Will Kazda (Czechowski), Raymond Goodall (Tennessee), Tommy Thurston (Professor), Xavier Euzarraga (Rotelli), Nate Strain (Cohen/Speedy), Marc Prince (Sarge), Joe Colajezzi (ensemble) and Roberto Jay (ensemble).
The musical, a product of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, gained critical attention, awards nominations and a loyal audience in its 2010 production by the off-Broadway York Theatre Company. Though a planned Broadway production never happened, YANK! has been produced on three continents, and a production played at the Charing Cross Theatre in London’s West End this past July and August. YANK! will be staged in the Pride Arts Center’s 85-seat Broadway stage, at 4139 N. Broadway. It will open to the press on January 18, 2018.
YANK! A WWII LOVE STORY
Book and Lyrics by David Zellnik, Music by Joseph Zellnik
Directed by David Zak
Choreography by Jenna Schoppe
Music Direction by Robert Ollis
January 11 – February 18, 2018
Previews Thursday, January 11 through Saturday, January 13 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, January 14 at 3:30 pm. Preview tickets are $25.
Regular performances Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3:30 pm, Wednesdays January 31 and February 7 at 7:30 pm.
The Broadway, Pride Arts Center
4139 N. Broadway
Tickets are $40 for reserved seats, $30 general admission. There are discounts for students and seniors.
YANK!, originally produced off-Broadway in 2010, is a love song to Hollywood’s “it takes one of every kind” platoon flicks and to 1940s Broadway. Suffused with songs (swing, big band, boogie-woogie), it explores what stories get told in wartime, and how WWII became the great catalyst in bringing gay men and women together. It’s the story of Stu, a scared Midwestern kid who gets drafted in 1943, and who – like most guys – spends Basic Training wrestling with fears of whether he “has what it takes” to make it in the Army. But unlike most guys, Stu falls in love with a fellow Private in his squad, a handsome All-American guy named Mitch. When Stu later strikes up a friendship with Artie – a self-assured gay reporter for Yank Magazine, Artie shows Stu a glimpse of the gay world that thrived just beneath the surface of the US Army in the 1940s.
David Zellnik (bookwriter/lyricist, YANK!) David’s numerous plays include: SERENDIB (The Hippodrome 2011; Off-Broadway Ensemble Studio Theatre 2008, created with a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation who sent him for 2 months to Sri Lanka to observe the scientists studying macaques in Polonnaruwa); ARIEL SHARON STANDS AT THE TEMPLE MOUNT AN DREAMS OF THEODORE HERZL (Epic Theatre Ensemble, Theatre J); LET A HUNDRED FLOWERS BLOOM (OOBR Award winner for Best Play, seen in London and NYC; t.b.perf in Portland at the Defunkt Theatre Company, Feb 2014); as well as the one-acts FOR ELISE, IDEOGRAM and KILLING HAND were all in various Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Marathons. Recently 3 of his one act plays were performed in Italian in Milan (2012). Blue Coyote Theatre Company has commissioned a new full length titled HUNTERS AND THIEVES.
Joseph Zellnik (composer, YANK!) Joseph’s solo work includes two dance pieces for the Chase Brock Experience, incidental music/songs for THE TEMPEST at NYU, and – as composer/lyricist – the musical THE UNCROWNED QUEEN OF IRELAND and various songs for cabaret performers. Joseph was the first recipient of the Rosetti Grant, which resulted in the musical TRUST ME and has been a member of the BMI Workshop and the Nautilus Librettist Workshop at New Dramatists. An evening of his solo work was featured as part of the Songbook Series at the Donnell Library. Joe received a BA in Music from Duke University, where he was the recipient of the Mary Duke Biddle Composition Scholarship, and the Henry Schumann Award for Composition in 1991.
David Zak (director) has won seven Jeff Awards in Chicago, including four for Directing (ANIMAL FARM, DR. SEX, PARADE, POPE JOAN), two for writing (THE HIROSHIMA PROJECT, THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO) and a special Jeff for “Fostering Diversity in Chicago Theater.” In his 27-year stint as Artistic Director of Bailiwick Repertory, he directed the world premiere production of THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER, the US premieres of Sir Peter Hall’s ANIMAL FARM and JERRY SPRINGER – THE OPERA, and many original works including the political dramas THE HIROSHIMA PROJECT and SIN: A CARDINAL DEPOSED. He has directed in London (THE IRISH CURSE), Seoul (DOLLHOUSE, FANTA STICK, THE GHOST’S COOKBOOK), Dublin (OH, HOLY ALLEN GINSBERG, AT THE FLASH), Boston (SIN: A CARDINAL DEPOSED), Los Angeles (DR. SEX, AT THE FLASH) and New York (MARLOWE and POSEIDON: AN UPSIDE-DOWN MUSICAL). His productions of the American Premieres of JERRY SPRINGER – THE OPERA and Sir Peter Hall’s ANIMAL FARM won Jeff Awards for Best Musical, as did his productions of PARADE, POPE JOAN, and Dennis DeYoung’s HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. His most recent Chicago productions have included: THE BOY FROM OZ, Terrence McNally’s SOME MEN and PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT (both with Derek Van Barham), Leo Schwartz’s THE BOOK OF MERMAN and UNDER THE RAINBOW FLAG. For the last year he has worked almost exclusively to bring the Pride Arts Center to life. He was inducted into the City of Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2013.
Robert Ollis (music director) is an Artistic Associate of Pride Films & Plays and served as Music Director for PFP’s productions of PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT, THE NANCE, THE BOY FROM OZ, SONGS FROM AN UNMADE BED, A HISTORY OF SUMMER and THE BOOK OF MERMAN, as well as Leo Schwartz’s award-winning UNDER A RAINBOW FLAG. He also served as Co-Music Director for Underscore Theatre’s musical HAYMARKET: THE ANARCHIST’S SONGBOOK. Robert received a Jeff Award for music direction of KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, plus Jeff nominations for four other shows. Robert has also served as Music Director for notable productions at Bailiwick Chicago, Bailiwick Repertory Theatre and the Chicago Casting Auction, plus numerous theatre-benefit concerts. Robert helped create JUDY & LIZA: THE LONDON PALLADIUM CONCERT — A TRIBUTE, recently presented at the Metropolitan Room in NYC. Robert has accompanied performers Donna McKechnie, Capathia Jenkins, Andrea Marcovicci, Nancy Hays, Michelle Lauto and Alexandra Billings at cabaret venues in New York City and Chicago. www.Robert-Ollis.com
Jenna Schoppe (choreographer) is delighted to make her PFP debut with Yank. Her previous choreographic ventures include BOBBIE CLEARLY (Steep Theatre), NOW. HERE. THIS. (Brown Paper Box Co.), and THE PRODUCERS (Nightblue Performing Arts – Jeff Nomination). As an actor Jenna has performed at Drury Lane, Porchlight Music Theatre, Brown Paper Box Co., and Factory Theater. She is an artistic associate at Brown Paper Box and a member of the Underground Vaudettes at the Kiss Kiss Cabaret.
ABOUT PRIDE FILMS AND PLAYS
Pride Films and Plays creates diverse new work (or work that is new to Chicago) with LGBTQ+ characters or themes that is essential viewing for all audiences. We accomplish this mission through fully-staged productions, writing contests and staged readings, and filming one short film each season.
PFP is the primary tenant in the Pride Arts Center (PAC), which connects and promotes other artists who share our values, creating a safe environment for all. PAC books one-night events or limited runs, cabaret, film, dance, comedy, and other events. PAC opened in 2016 and consists of two performance spaces: The Buena at 4147 N. Broadway which has 50 seats and The Broadway at 4139 N. Broadway which has 85 seats.
Pride Films and Plays is supported by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard Driehaus Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago’s City Arts Fund, the Elliott Fredland Charitable Trust, Proud to Run, the AmazonSmile Foundation, Arts and Business Foundation, Tap Root Foundation and Alphawood Foundation.
PFP is a member of the Smart Growth Program of the Chicago Community Trust. Pride Films and Plays is a member of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois and The League of Chicago Theatres.
For more information, visit www.pridefilmsandplays.com or call 1.800.737.0984.
ABOUT PRIDE ARTS CENTER
PRIDE ARTS CENTER has become an important part of the arts environment in the Buena Park neighborhood and beyond. In addition to performances by PFP, (www.pridefilmsandplays.com), PAC hosts monthly events including play readings, film screenings, cabaret nights, and variety shows (PAC the House).