Select photos and descriptions of productions I have directed (and in some cases written) in Chicago, Indianapolis and elsewhere.
By Ike Holter (Storefront Theatre of Indianapolis, 2018)
Summer in Chicago: Tempratures flare, shootings spike and the city is stuck in statys quo. Enter a mixed bag of underdogs ready to save whatever’s left of the day. Completely powerless but sky-high on passion, they join forces. But as broken bones multiply and alliances splinter, the team is forced to draw the line between well-meaning heroism and vigilante justice.
By Hannah Moscovitch (Storefront Theatre of Indianapolis, 2017)
How does a new Theory of Time change everything we know about ourselves? Three brilliant minds – a musician, a mathematician, and a theoretical physicist – smash together like colliding particles in an accelerator. Together they learn that love and time are connected in ways they couldn’t have imagined. Infinity is a shocking, funny and revelatory play about love, sex, & math
By Heidi Schreck (Signal Ensemble Theatre, 2016)
After a series of brutal layoffs at Sutton, Feingold and McGrath, a precocious young consultant is brought in to save a middle-aged ad man's job, and maybe his life. Following the world premiere at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, The Consultant is an incisive, hilarious and dark look at contemporary corporate culture.
★ ★ ★ (out of four)
"Ronan Marra's direction plays to the strengths I've seen over and over with the company, particularly in the confident interplay between the characters and the commitment to creating worlds just slightly askew of normal."
Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune
PUSH BUTTON MURDER
By Steve J. Spencer (the side project, 2015, World Premiere)
Becky and Roy, working deep inside the Military Industrial Complex, have access to our information and coordinates, and have licenses to kill. Push Button Murder is the darkest of comedies about revolution, drones, extra-governmental operations, mass surveillance and other things you probably shouldn't worry about.
Recommended - "Ronan Marra’s direction keeps the tension present through staging that makes it clear that the bunker’s similarly tiny space is inescapable for those who work within it."
New City Chicago
BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS
By Neil Simon (Fox Valley Repetory, 2014)
Based on Neil Simon’s memoirs of growing up in Brooklyn, this coming-of-age comedy recounts life in 1937 through the eyes of a young teenage boy. Eugene Jerome, dreaming of baseball and girls, must cope with the mundane existence of his cramped, Jewish-American family life.
THIS IS WAR
By Hannah Moscovitch (Signal Ensemble Theatre, 2013, US Premiere)
It is 2008. Canadian Forces are holding Panjwaii, the most volatile region of Afghanistan, with very little support from NATO-ISAF. Captain Stephen Hughes is always looking for the next threat, knowing it can come at any time from any direction. He just didn’t expect it would come from within.
★ ★ ★ (out of four) - Chris Jones
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - "The sustained intensity of this production exerts its hold long after you've left the theater"
By Sheila Callaghan (Signal Ensemble Theatre, 2013)
On a secluded Greek island, an American ex-pat pursues his passions: winemaking and his breathtaking young wife. Then, on the eve of Ronald Reagan’s presidential inauguration, the first tasting of the new wine is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of August’s former lover. Inspired by Greek tragedy, Lascivious Something combines evocative language with sympathetic yet deeply flawed characters straight out of Euripides.
★ ★ ★ - "A Remarkably Sexy Show"
Chicago Tribune (Chris Jones)
Book by Clay McLeod Chapman and music and lyrics by Kyle Jarrow. Music Direction by Jon Steinhagen. (Signal Ensemble Theatre, 2012)
Bound and blindfolded in a war-torn country, two hostages take refuge in music, memory and each other in the Chicago premiere of this provocative indie-rock musical.
"A haunting presence...quite moving performances from both Roos and O'Connell"
(3 out of 4 stars)
Chicago Tribune -- Chris Jones
EAST OF BERLIN AND THE RUSSIAN PLAY
By Hannah Moscovitch (Signal Ensemble Theatre, 2011)
In East of Berlin, it has been seven years since Rudi left his family and its Nazi past behind him. Questioning redemption, love, guilt and the sins of the father, Rudi’s emotional upheaval as he comes to terms with a frightening past that was never his own. Set amidst the doomed men and rotten ideals of Stalinist Russia, The Russian Play tells the story of a flower-shop girl who falls in love with a gravedigger - a bleak, bittersweet and darkly satiric ode to the dangerous joys of love.
"The play blew me away"
By Jon Steinhagen (Signal Ensemble Theatre, 2011, World Premiere)
The summer of 1975: Saigon has fallen, the Watergate scandals continue, and Bobby Fischer refuses to play chess, but in Las Vegas, none of this matters to six casino employees who are busy running their nickel-and-dime scam during business hours...until a blackjack dealer named Samantha is added to their lives, and the losers are forced to take a close look at their desperate lives, their selfish behavior, and each other.
☆ ☆ ☆ 1/2 - "[A] terrific little play that deserves to run all summer."
By Ronan Marra, Directed by Aaron Snook (Signal Ensemble Theatre, 2012, World Premiere)
How hard can it be for two organizations to split a nine-billion dollar pie? Impossible, apparently. Drew is a hotshot agent hellbent on making his blue-chip but troubled client the number one pick in the pro football draft, until the team that owns the pick hires his ex-wife to rebuild the long-suffering franchise. Obstacles surmount as Drew angles to get the best possible deal for his client, but does any of it matter when labor discord threatens the very existence of the game? From the writer of Signal’s hit jukebox musical “Aftermath," Ronan Marra.
This is an exceptionally clever and amusing script with plenty of laughs"
Written and Directed by Ronan Marra (Signal Ensemble Theatre, 2010-2011, World Premiere)
Brian Jones, founder and original leader of The Rolling Stones, was perhaps most famous for his mysterious death at age 27. Jones’s lasting impact on rock ‘n roll was masked behind his sexual escapades, high profile relationships and drug induced arrests. Spanning the years 1966-1969, “Aftermath,” a drama with the actors playing live music, maps the rise and fall of a troubled genius whose legacy was overshadowed by the very band he created.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - "Blunt, rough and deliciously caustic...Fabulous...Aftermath should turn into a cult Chicago hit"