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Drama Group tickles funny bone with ‘Vanya’

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Mary Ellen Fawk, director of Chicago Heights' Drama Group's "Vanya & Sonya & Masha & Spike," expects a select audience to get more than laughs out of her production of the award-winning comedy.
"It appeals to an older generation of folks who carry with them themes of hope versus disappointment and never quite understanding what happened to themselves," she said. "But in the end, there's always hope."
Opening May 4 and running through May 13 at Drama Group's Milord Studio Theatre, "Vanya" is the story of the title characters, three of whom are siblings, who find themselves at odds with often hilarious results following the death of their parents.
Taking its inspiration from the writings of late 19th Century/early 20th Century Russian author and playwright Anton Chekov, "Vanya" was penned by American playwright Christopher Durang, whose credits include "Sister Mary Ignatius" and "Betty's Summer Vacation."
The play made its debut in 2013, featuring Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce in the cast. It won the Tony Award that year for Best Play.
"Somehow Durang creates these situations that seem implausible," Fawk said, "and fusing that into this realistic kind of play makes for some great humor, I think."
Ron Edwards is Vanya, Karen Cassin Sacrementi is Sonya, Regina Gadotti is Masha and Geoffrey Purvis is Spike in Drama Group's production of the comedy. Rounding out the cast is Samm Hilger as Nina and Alicia Cussia as Cassandra.
"I feel like we've got a repertory group here," Fawk said of her cast. "They just melded together really well. I knew when I heard them and saw them together that this was it. I've got really strong South Suburban actors who really know what to do."
Next up for Drama Group is the musical "Fame,"  scheduled to open July 27.
FYI: "Vanya & Sonya & Masha & Spike" will run at 7:30 p.m. May 4-5 and 10-12, 2 p.m. May 6 and 13 at Milord Studio Theatre, 330 W. 202nd St., Chicago Heights. Tickets are $20 for adults, $19 for seniors, $15 for students and groups of 25 or more. Call 708-755-3444 or visit DRAMAGROUP.ORG