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Suburban talents bring rare play to Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in Cicero

(Staff photo by Matthew Piechalak)
Zachary Champagne of Elmhurst, as ship steward Scrubby, pours a drink behind the bar during a dress rehearsal for “Outward Bound” at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in Cicero.

The mysterious transit of a luxury liner is a ticket to entertainment in “Outward Bound,” a show that took its own fantastic voyage en route to becoming a hit. Sharing their insights are actor Zachary Champagne of Elmhurst, who portrays Scrubby, and director Micheal Kott of Carol Stream, a multimedia specialist at Morton College, home to the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in Cicero, where the show is playing.

How did you discover the show? Micheal: Rod Serling quotes this as (an) impetus for ‘The Twilight Zone.’ That was one of the things that drew me. I found out about it first about eight or 10 years ago in a Playbill article, lamenting the plays of that year, (saying,) ‘We wish that they would produce some of the wonderful shows from past years.’ They listed ‘Outward Bound’ (by Sutton Vane), and I looked it up. (I learned) it was so different than anything being produced, that no producer would produce it. So Sutton produced it with his own money back in 1923, and it went on to become the hit of the West End and Broadway.

Your character looks after the ship’s passengers, Zachary? Scrubby is the ship steward. Basically, the passengers on the boat are not sure where they’re going or why. There’s an ominous feeling. None of them seems to understand what position they have on the boat. One of the characters thinks she’s in first class. The steward tells her there’s only one class. Hints are given that something’s not quite right. (The play) can be very dramatic; there are touches of humor.

What are your artistic roots? Zachary: Most of my background is in writing. I was in Second City years ago, (with) a show I’d co-written. I still write. I haven’t had a chance to do improv. It’s why I wanted to get into acting and get on stage.

What can theatergoers expect, Micheal? A great cast. We’ve got (newcomers) on stage up to actors who’ve been in the movies and television. (After) living in Los Angeles, they have moved back home. One of the actors … who is fresh out of college, is working against a seasoned actor almost 70. It’s interesting to see them both learning from each other.

What audiences would ‘Outward Bound’ appeal to, Zachary? If they’re looking for something a little offbeat, a little different, but engaging. It’s a perfect time for this play to come out: Halloween. Mysterious … a little eerie, (it) will keep you guessing. This is a great play; there are a lot of emotional moments in it. (Live theater) heightens the experience. Because these characters are trying to figure themselves out and why they’re there, there’s a relatability every person can find.

“Outward Bound” is on stage at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center
Morton College campus, 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday through Saturday, Nov. 10
$17, $15 for seniors;, (708) 656-1800


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