Crooked

A Midwest Premiere
By Catherine Trieschmann
Directed by Sandy Shinner
Associate Directed by Rivendell ensemble member Megan Carney

Life sucks for fourteen year old Laney, who has a deformed back, a mother in crisis, and an active imagination which she uses to write vividly violent short stories. A funny play of life, love and the Spirit of the Lord from the American Deep South. Hailed by Chicago critics as "A sharply funny coming-of-age story." (Chicago Tribune)  "Some of the most beautifully modulated and revealing work I've seen on stage in months" (Chicago Reader) "CROOKED is straight-up superb" (Chicago Now),  this Jeff Recommended production brings together Rivendell’s founder and artistic director Tara Mallen on stage with Rae Gray, the theatre’s newest and youngest ensemble member.

Previews: May 17–19
Opening Night: May 20
Regular run: May 24-June 23
Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00pm
Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm

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What the critics are saying...


"A sharply funny coming-of-age story."  -Chicago Tribune

"Sharp-witted young actor Rae Gray finds the gradations behind Laney’s mercurial mood swings and casual falsehoods…Tara Mallen is equally terrific as the loving but flailing Elise."  -Time Out Chicago

"Shinner's actors deliver some of the most beautifully modulated and revealing work I've seen on stage in months…Rae Gray's Laney is near-perfect… And Hannah Gomez is at once captivating and heartbreaking as Maribel."  -Chicago Reader

"CROOKED is straight-up superb… It’s hilarious…This powerful trio continues to intrigue me long after the blackout. It really doesn’t get better than this. CROOKED is as good as it gets!"  -Chicago Now

"All three of these performances and the sum total of their effect is a marvel. Mallen is utterly convincing…Rae Gray makes an impressive debut…Hannah Gomez who does the impossible…It’s rare that I wish a show could go on longer (I did)…Quite simply a must-see."  -Chicago Theatre Beat

"Shinner advantageously maneuvers her three performers around Rivendell’s new Edgewater space nimbly and with deft variation. Her staging collaborates cohesively with Diane Fairchild’s softened,  though specific lighting design and Regina Garcia’s sparsely decorated andcozily spacious new-house set."  -New City

 Cast

Tara Mallen* (Elise)

An actor, director and producer, Tara is a founding member and Artistic Director for Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. Most recently, she was onstage in the Steppenwolf Garage as part of the ensemble in Rivendell’s World Premiere, Jeff-nominated production of The Walls. Tara also played Jolene Palmer (inspired by the true life story of Aileen Wuornos) in Rivendell’s Jeff-recommended production of Self Defense, or the Death of Some Salesmen– both productions part of Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Visiting Theater Initiative. The cast of Self Defense was also honored with a 2005 After Dark award for Best Ensemble.For Rivendell, Tara has both produced and acted in Twenty-Seven Wagons Full of Cotton; Ten Tiny Fingers, Nine Tiny Toes; WRENS; My Simple City; Holy Days; Mommapalooza!; The Clink; The Factory Girls; Faulkner’s Bicycle;The Trestle at Popelick Creek; and Indulgences in the Louisville Harm.

Tara received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Gwenyth inWRENS as well as being a part of the Jeff-winning ensemble for that production. She was nominated the following year for Best Actress in a Principal Role for her work in My Simple City. Tara has directed the Jeff-nominated Midwest premieres of 26 Miles by Quiara Alegria Hudes in association with Rivendell and Teatro Vista;Fighting Words by Sunil Kuruvilla; Psalms of a Questionable Nature by Marisa Wegerzyn; the co-production of Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue with Stageworks/Hudson in Hudson, NY; as well as the brief and brilliant Shady Meadows by Lisa Dillman as part of the 2007 Chicago Humanities Festival. Look for Tara in Stephen Soderbergh’s latest film Contagion and the STARZ series BOSS featuring Kelsey Grammer. Tara graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in Theatre from Brooklyn College.

Rae Gray (Laney)

Rae is thrilled to be making her official Rivendell debut. She most recently appeared in The Real Thing at Writers’ Theatre, Circle Mirror Transformation at Victory Gardens, and Jailbait at Profiles Theatre. Other credits include Ravinia Festival’s Sunday in the Park with George starring Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald, Wedding Band at Steppenwolf Theatre, two seasons of A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre, Inherit the Wind at Northlight Theatre, Oliver! and State Fair at Marriott Theatre, Meet Me in St. Louis at Drury Lane Oakbrook which was remounted at the Gateway Playhouse in New York, Summer People at the Gift Theatre, A Christmas Story and State Fair at Theatre at the Center, That Face at Redtwist Theatre, and The Crucible and Cry of Players at TimeLine Theatre. Recent film credits include Unsettled, Roundabout American, and The Dark One. Rae is currently studying theatre and creative writing at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. She started working with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble in 2011 on the Women at War project, and is humbled and thrilled to be part of such an incredible ensemble.

Hannah Gomez (Maribel)

Hannah is honored to make her Rivendell debut. She was last seen at American Theater Co. as Cha-Cha in The Original Grease (Jeff Award for Outstanding Musical) where she also participated in The Silver Project and understudied Distracted. Some other credits include The Glass Onion’s The Magic Ofrenda, Teatro Luna’s Sexoh, and About Face Youth Theatre’s Fast Forward. She is an alumnus of Illinois State University and a native Texan. For more information, visit hannahgomez.com. She would like to thank the phenomenal production team and her loving family and friends for the support and opportunity.

Production Team

Sandy Shinner (Director)

Sandy Shinner is thrilled to be back at Rivendell where she directed Tara Mallen in Holy Days by Sally Nemeth.  Most recently Sandy directed the Chicago premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room or the vibrator play at Victory Gardens Theater. Her other recent directing credits include the world premieres of Joel Drake Johnson’s The Boys Room, A Guide For The Perplexed, Four Places ( VG), and Tranquillity Woods ( Steppenwolf’s First Look) as well as Aditi Brennan Kapil’s Love Person (VG) Jeffrey Sweet’s Flyovers (at New York’s 78th Street Theatre Lab) and the revival of Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl (co-directed with Jessica Thebus at Victory Gardens).  She has directed ten world premieres by Claudia Allen including I Sailed with Magellan, adapted from the book by Chicagoan Stuart Dybek, as well as Winter and Fossils, both starring Julie Harris.  Other credits include the world premieres of Memory House by Kathleen Tolan (Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival and VG) and Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass, which transferred from Victory Gardens to off-Broadway’s Promenade Theatre. Sandy created and produced Ignition at Victory Gardens. The bi-annual festival brought the critically-acclaimed The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, the widely produced Year Zero by Michael Golamco, We Are Proud To Present A Presentation…by Jackie Sibblies Drury, and Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them by A. Rey Pamatmat to national attention.  With Dennis Zacek and Marcelle McVay, Sandy was honored to accept the 2001 Tony Award® for Outstanding Regional Theatre on behalf of the theater. Ms. Shinner is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and was a finalist for the Joe A. Callaway Director’s Award for the New York production of Trying. She was recognized as one of the “Top 50 Players” in 2009 and as one of 16 “Chicagoans of the Year” in 2001.  She is an editor of Victory Gardens Presents: Seven Plays from the Playwrights Ensemble, published by Northwestern University Press. She is an adjunct professor at DePaul.

Stephanie Hurovitz*(Stage Manager)

Stephanie Hurovitz has been stage managing in Chicago since 2003 and she is very happy to have found a home with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. She has stage-managed Rivendell’s productions of Falling: A Wake; Precious Little; Mary’s Wedding; The Walls; These Shining Lives (all four incarnations); and assistant stage-managed Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue with Teatro Vista at the Steppenwolf garage. Other theatres that have been lucky enough to have her pass through include: SuzBo Productions (a staged reading of One Is One; Two Is Math at Steppenwolf); Route 66 Theatre Company (A Twist of Water); Pegasus Players (Continental Divide); Lifeline Theatre (Lyle, Lyle Crocodile; The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!; Gaudy Night; Giggle, Giggle Quack; A Long Way From Chicago; and Deep In The Jungle); Bailiwick Reparatory (Sunday on the Rocks); and ASM (Naked Boys Singing); Theatre Building Chicago, where she worked with Hancock Productions (The Brother and ‘Night Mother); Walk-About Theatre Company, in conjunction with Lookingglass (The Coast of Chicago); Collaboraction Theatre Company (Casanova); the (since re-named) International Theatre of Chicago (Safe); Brown Couch Theatre Company (Tempting Fate and Defying Gravity); Reverie Theatre Company (All’s Well That Ends Well); and (since-dissolved) Pywackett Theatre Company (Misery).

Pat Fries (Production Manager)

Pat Fries is perhaps the most handsome Rivendell Ensemble Member. Pat has production-managed the RTE productions of Falling: A Wake, Precious Little, These Shining Lives, The Walls, Mary's Wedding, and 26 Miles. Previous credits include The UN Inspector, Dying City, Boom, End Days, War With The Newts, The Piano Teacher, and Madagascar (Next Theatre); tick, tick...BOOM! (Porchlight Music Theatre); Momma's Boyz (Teatro Vista); Generic Latina 2010 and Lunatic(a)s (Teatro Luna); and Welcome Yule! 2009 and 2010 (Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Upcoming productions include A Class Act with Porchlight Music Theatre and Technical Director for Theatre on the Lake's 2012 season.

Meredith Matthews (Assistant Stage Manager)

Meredith Matthews attends The Theatre School at DePaul University and is a 2nd year in the BFA/Stage Management Program . Meredith hails from Tipp City, Ohio. Previous Theatre School credits include Assistant Stage Manager for Faustus, directed by Krissy Vanderwarker, 2nd Assistant Stage Manager for A Lie of the Mind, directed by Carlos Murillo, and Stage Manager for Richard III, directed by Ian Frank.

Diane Fairchild (Lighting Designer)

Diane Fairchild is a proud ensemble member of Rivendell, an Artistic Associate of Next Theatre, and adjunct faculty at The School of the Art Institute. Previous designs for Rivendell include 26 Miles, The Walls, These Shining Lives and Psalms of a Questionable Nature. Other design credits in Chicago include shows at  Next, TimeLine, Northlight, Pegasus Players, Neo-Futurists (at Northlight), Redmoon, Infamous Commonwealth, Noble Fool, The Side Project, Wheaton College, and Court Theatre. In New York: The Juilliard School, Dixon Place, The Kitchen, Joyce Soho, HERE, New Georges; Regional: INTIMAN Theatre, Trinity Repertory, Syracuse Stage. Ms. Fairchild holds an MFA in theater design from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and she earned her BFA in design and technology for the theater from Wright State University in her hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

Regina Garcia (Scenic Designer)

Born in Puerto Rico, Regina attended Sarah Lawrence College and NYU' s Department of Design for Stage and Film where she received her MFA. Recently completed projects include: The Homosexuals by Philip Dawkins, directed by Bonnie Metzgar for About Face Theatre; Ruined by Lynn Nottage, directed by Ron Himes for the St. Louis Black Rep; and Freedom, NY by Jennifer Barclay, directed by Joe Miñoso for Teatro Vista. She has designed for directors Giovanna Sardelli, Daniella Topol, Thomas Kail, Victor Maog, Jorge Ali Triana, Michael J. Garces, and Bartlett Sher, amongst others; and for renowned Latino theaters including Repertorio Español, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, INTAR, and was the Resident Scenic Designer at Pregones Theater, Bronx, for more than ten years.

Regina has received a Princess Grace Foundation Special Project grant to serve as production designer for the upcoming workshop of Stephen Taylor’s Paradises Lost at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in 2012. She is a Fellow of the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Designers, and part of the Scenic Design Faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a company member with Teatro Vista here in Chicago.

Janice Pytel+ (Costume Designer)

Janice Pytel has been living and working in the Chicago area since she moved here to attend Lake Forest College in 1989. She also attended Northwestern University from 1993-1996, earning her MFA in costume design in 1999. She has worked with dozens of theatre companies in various capacities, including brief stints as a stage manager and in a box office. Janice was the costume shop manager for Steppenwolf Theatre from 1996-2002, and also worked briefly at the Court Theatre while she was transitioning into full-time freelance costume design. She’s been living the freelance dream (sometimes a nightmare) since 2004. For Rivendell Theatre Ensemble she has designed costumes for Falling: A Wake, Precious Little, Psalms of a Questionable Nature and Mary’s Wedding. Additional costume design credits include: Broadway: 33 Variations; I Am My Own Wife. Chicago: The Long Red Road (Goodman Theatre); The Seafarer, Sonia Flew, The Last of the Boys, The Pain and the Itch, and The Drawer Boy (Steppenwolf Theatre); The Caretaker, The Detective's Wife, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Picnic (Writers’ Theatre); Our Town (Lookingglass Theatre Company); Fences and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Court Theatre); Pulp (About Face Theatre). Regional: The Farnsworth Invention (Alley Theatre); Winesburg, Ohio (Kansas City Rep); The Glass Menagerie (Kansas City Rep.); 33 Variations (Arena Stage and La Jolla Playhouse); Lombardi: the Only Thing (Madison Rep.); Rembrandt’s Gift (Madison Rep.); Agnes of God (Indiana Rep.). Los Angeles: The Seafarer (Geffen Playhouse). Multi Media: Catherine Sullivan’s Triangle of Need (Walker Art Center, Vizcaya Musuem and Gardens, Metro Pictures Gallery). Janice has designed costumes for over a dozen world-premieres, and as a result has become interested in new play development. She is very excited to be one of the newest members of Rivendell Theatre Ensemble and to embark on this new phase in her career.

Chris Kris (Sound Designer)

Chris works nationally as a composer and sound designer and is pleased to working with Rivendell again, having previously designed Precious Little and The Walls. In Chicago, Chris has designed for companies including Northlight, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens and TimeLine.  Recent Chicago credits include The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (Steppenwolf Theatre), Black Pearl Sings (Northlight Theatre), Pride and Prejudice (Lifeline Theatre), After The Revolution (Next Theatre), The Word Progress On My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True (Trap Door Theatre), Opus (Redtwist), Old Times (Strawdog Theatre), Festen (Steep Theatre) and Cloud 9 (Gift Theatre). Regional credits include Fall Of The House (Theatre Squared),  TheNerd (Peninsula Players) and the national tour of America Amerique (Jena Company).  Upcoming productions include I Am Going To Change The World (Chicago Dramatists), Creditors (Remy Bumppo) and The Letters (Writers Theatre). To hear more of his work, please visit www.christopherkriz.com

Noah Hayman (Master Electrician)

Noah Hayman is delighted to be working with Rivendell Theater. Noah holds a BFA in Lighting Design from DePaul University and works as a freelance lighting designer and theater technician in Chicago.

Angela Campos (Props Designer)

Angela is excited to be joining Rivendell Theatre for the first time with this production of Crooked. Select Chicago credits include Autumn Garden and Beyond the Horizon (Eclipse Theatre Company); Death and Harry Houdini and The Nutcracker (The House Theatre of Chicago); A Number, Memory, and Three Days of Rain (BackStage Theatre Company); Romeo and Juliet (First Folio Theatre); Theories of the Sun and Heddatron (Sideshow Theatre Company); and Cloud 9 (The Gift Theatre Company). She would like to thank her friends and family for all their unwavering support.


Catherine Trieschmann (Playwright)

Catherine Trieschmann's plays include How the World Began, Crooked, The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock, Hot Georgia Sunday, and Small and Selfish Creatures. Her newest play, How the World Began premiered last fall at South Coast Repertory, then enjoyed a European premiere by Out of Joint at the Arcola Theatre, before opening Off-Broadway with Women's Project in January, where it was granted an Edgerton New Play Award. Crooked premiered at the Bush Theatre in London in 2006 and then opened Off-Broadway with the Women's Project in 2008. It has been produced internationally in Edinburgh, Belfast, and Sydney, as well as all over the United States. It is also included in the Best New Playwrights 2009 anthology published by Smith and Kraus. The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock, her MFA thesis project at the University of Georgia, was awarded the 2001 L. Arnold Weissberger Award and premiered at Florida Stage in 2009. Her plays have also appeared at the Summer Play Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Theatre Company (Chicago), the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the New York International Fringe Festival, Theatre in the Square (Atlanta), the Greenbrier Valley Theatre, the Pacific Playwrights Festival, and Manhattan Theatre Club's 7 at 7 reading series. Her work is published by Samuel French, Playscripts, and Methuen. She has received commissions from South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theatre Club. She is a recipient of a mid-career artist grant from the Kansas Arts Council, which will hopefully rise again, and the very proud recipient of the 2012 Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award from the William Inge Theatre Festival. Originally from Athens, GA, she currently lives in Hays, Kansas.

 * Denotes Member of Actors Equity Association
+ United Scenic Artists Association.