WEST CHICAGO – Featuring actors from across the region, Gallery Theater in West Chicago is about to celebrate the joy of laughter in the farce "Suite Surrender," opening May 30.
The story is set in 1942, and two of Hollywood’s biggest divas have descended upon the luxurious Palm Beach Royale Hotel — assistants, luggage and legendary feud in tow. Everything appears in order for their wartime performance, until they somehow are assigned to the same suite.
"The show is very funny with all the elements of a great farce," said actor and publicist Carl Zeitler, a Glen Ellyn resident in his 12th year as a reading specialist in Berwyn.
He said the show is about mistaken identities, overblown egos, double entendres and a lap dog named Mr. Boodles, in what amounts to a hilarious love note to the classic farces of the 1930s and 1940s.
"It really moves along and engages the audiences through a ride of mistaken identities as the hotel staff and the divas' assistants all deal with the two of them being in the same suite unbeknownst to each other and keeping them from finding out," he said in an email.
The comedy is directed by Gallery Theater Artistic Director Gail Cannata of West Chicago, who was enthusiastic about the play immediately, Zeitler said in announcing the show and sharing reactions from the production team.
"When I first read the script, I laughed out loud," Cannata said. "I thought our patrons would enjoy the characters and how they worked their way through the crazy story line. I also knew this would be a fun show to direct."
The "Suite Surrender" cast features Nancy Braus of Schaumburg, Matt Hellyer of Algonquin, Carolyn Larsen of Wheaton, Galen Malick of Bartlett, Cheryl Rice of Elmhurst, Justin Schaller of Elgin, Heidi Swarthout of Oswego, Carol Townsend of West Chicago and Zeitler.
Braus and Larsen have appeared on the Gallery Theater stage several times.
"It is a classic farce that is just plain fun – each character has a distinct personality that contributes to many truly comic moments," Braus said.
"The slapstick, quick-moving humor in this script really grabbed my attention right away," Larsen said. "My character is an all-out diva. I enjoy her attitude and confidence. She's fun to play."
Gallery Theater is an intimate-sized theater and many of its productions have had fully sold-out runs, so early reservations are recommended by the team.
"I enjoy the intimate atmosphere of our theater," Cannata said. "Many first-time patrons become regulars because they feel the connection of the intimate setting and want to see more quality theater up close and personal."
Larsen relishes the camaraderie.
"The people who are a part of Gallery Theater are kind, fun to work with, encouraging and generous – working on plays here has always been very enjoyable," Larsen said.
Braus seconded the sentiment.
"Gallery Theater is one of my favorite places to perform – as an actor, I have always felt lucky to have worked at Gallery with its warm and supportive environment," Braus said.
If you go
WHAT: Gallery Theater presents "Suite Surrender" by Michael McKeever
WHEN: May 30 to June 9, with curtain at 7:30 p.m. May 30 and 31, June 1, 7 and 8; and 3 p.m. June 2, 8 and 9
WHERE: Gallery Theater, 129 Main St., downtown West Chicago
COST: $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and students; gallerytheaterstudio.com, 630-234-5919