- Where you were born/where were you raised? Born in Eunice, Louisiana; raised in Ville Platte, Louisiana (about an hour north of Lafayette, LA)
- Zodiac sign? Libra
- What are the careers of your parents? My Father is a State Farm Agent; My Mother is a full-time Mom
- Do you have any Siblings? 1 Sister , Lindsay.
- Where were you trained? University of Louisiana at Lafayette for Bachelors; Texas Tech University for Masters
- Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: Song would be from The Apple Tree; Monologue would be from Jitters.
- Why did you want to be a part of Nightmares & Nightcaps? I’m really into horror flicks. Not that this show is incredibly scary, but I love the dark quirkiness of this show.
- Favorite Twilight Zone and/or Black Mirror episode? Nosedive, Shut Up and Dance, White Bear (couldn’t pick just one!)
- Most played song in your music collection: Right now? The Plastics from Mean Girls the Musical. DONUT COME FOR ME.
- Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Jesus – Godspell
- Worst onstage mishap: I’m sure I’ve had one but can’t think of any so it must not have been that bad!
- Worst job you ever had: Working retail at Aeropostale
- (Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: The Baker from Into the Woods, Helena from A Midsummer Night's Dream
- What were you afraid of as a child? Sweetums the Muppet
- Where you were born/where were you raised? Manchester, CT
- Zodiac sign? Leo
- What are/were the careers of your parents? Lawyer, Phlebotomist.
- Do you have any Siblings? One brother.
- Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: song: "No More" from Into the Woods / monologue: Mosca from Volpone
- Why did you want to be a part of Nightmares & Nightcaps? I love Collier's sinister yet witty writing and I can't turn down a chance to play Satan.
- Current or recent show in Chicago (other than Nightmares & Nightcaps!) that you think is must-see: Southern Gothic.
- Most played song in your music collection? SexyBack
- Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager? Nigel Rancour in Something's Afoot
- Worst onstage mishap: I almost destroyed a beautiful scrim of Cape Cod for a high school production of Babes in Arms when I jiggled the doorknob of a set within a set and the entire wall came crashing down and then the door followed.
- Worst job you ever had: A dishwasher at Friendly's.
- Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: Mosca in Volpone, The Baker in Into the Woods, Edmund in Lear, Lemml in Indecent, Mr. Applegate in Damn Yankees.
- What were you afraid of as a child? Monsters under my bed.
Nightmares & Nightcaps has been open for a couple of weeks now, and the good reviews have been rolling in! For those of you who are curious, here's a list of quotes and links to the various good press we've been getting:
“Deliciously macabre...[this] quirky, disquieting, ever comedic production nicely showcases Collier’s peculiar tales.” — Barbara Vitello, Daily Herald
“Delightful...a well-chosen and well-acted series of vignettes, from ominous to slyly funny...”” — Crista Zivanovic, NWI Times
“Absolutely hilarious...an excellent production...so good you’ll leave the theater wishing they could have added more of Collier’s sardonic, twisted confections.” — Karen Topham, Windy City Times
“A strange and spooky delight...hilarious, and creepy-crawly scary, both aurally and visually.” — Nancy Bishop, Third Coast Review
“The energetic performers play all of their characters to the hilt...its simplicity pairs nicely with the bitter flavor of Collier’s stories.” — Alex Huntsberger, Time Out Chicago
“A ghoulish delight...John Collier’s works are both witty and acerbic. Black Button Eyes Productions delivers a charming introduction and brilliant homage to the writer.”” — Kerstin Broockmann, Chicago Stage Standard
“A delightful exercise in creepy-crawly quirkiness...Rutherford has found the perfect theatrical equivalent to Collier’s blend of the lethal and the looney.” — Lawrence Bommer, Stage and Cinema
“Rutherford’s latest production is nicely staged, beautifully acted and creatively supported by a team of clever theatrical artisans.” — Colin Douglas, Chicago Theatre Review
- Where you were born/where were you raised? Born and raised in Lubbock, Texas
- Zodiac sign: Capricorn
- What are/were the careers of your parents? Mostly in the medical field. So naturally I had to be different.
- Do you have any Siblings? I have a sister! I always wanted a brother but I got her instead. Oh well.
- Where were you trained? Texas Tech University School of Theatre and Dance
- Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: I'm not giving away my secrets to staying booked!
- Why did you want to be a part of Nightmares & Nightcaps? I've always thought BBEP shows were fun and extremely pleasing to the eye. I wanna be pleasing to the eye.
- Current or recent show in Chicago (other than N&N!) that you think is must-see: I just finished The Adventures of Spirit Force Five with The Factory Theater. It was a helluva time. If you didn't see it then you've missed it and I'm sorry for you.
- Favorite Twilight Zone and/or Black Mirror episode? Black Mirror: Shut Up and Dance // The Entire History of You. I've never seen The Twilight Zone
- Most played song in your music collection: I'm overplaying the new Panic! album right now
- Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: I didn't really start acting until college. I loved playing Konstantin in The Seagull
- Worst onstage mishap: I fell once. It hurt. Like...a big fall. There were bruises and emotional scars. I don't wanna talk about it.
- Worst costume ever: I wore a wig in the show where I took a big fall. My ego is hurting now.
- Worst job you ever had: I worked at a restaurant during a holiday season and I've never hated a job more.
- Craziest audition story: I don't really have a crazy audition story...maybe one will happen soon. Who knows?
- Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: Can someone please cast me in a production of Hair? I'd do a good job. Or the Emcee in Cabaret. But also can I please play Olivia in Twelfth Night? I have a lot...
- What were you afraid of as a child? Bad weather scared me. Growing up in Texas, we're taught to be afraid of tornadoes so I used to think wind on a rainy day meant I had to hide in a cellar and pray.
WARNING, IF YOU KNOW THESE STORIES THE LIST BELOW MAY SPOIL PARTS OF THE SHOW.
…But for those of you who are already familiar with Collier’s work and want a peek at what’s to come, here are the stories we’ve tackled, along with a blurb that hopefully doesn’t give too much away:
Are You Too Late, Or Was I Too Early? A reclusive apartment dweller begins to suspect that his apartment may be haunted.
Over Insurance A young couple in love learns the hard lesson that money worries can be death to romance.
Incident On A Lake When Mr. and Mrs. Beasley inherit a vast sum of money and embark on a world tour, their troubles have only just begun.
Thus I Refute Beelzy All is as it should be at the Carter household, until one afternoon tea when the Father of the house asks about his son’s imaginary friend.
Squirrels Have Bright Eyes A young man is desperately, hopelessly in love with a Huntress who barely knows he exists. Nothing that a little determination and creative taxidermy can’t fix.
Pictures in the Fire A down-on-his-luck screenwriter signs a contract with a filthy-rich film producer who seems to have been everywhere, seen everything, and known everybody. The only downside is the two-month options on him for all eternity.
The Chaser Aren’t love potions wonderful?
John Henry Noyes Collier was born in 1901 in London. Although a Brit, he traveled extensively between Hollywood, England and France, and was celebrated in his day for his poetry, short stories (appearing in The New Yorker, among other places), screenplays and other works. His stories often contain elements of the fantastical but are also very sardonic in tone. Due to his being a British native who wound up in Hollywood, his tales can be by turns extremely English and extremely American in feel and locale. In addition to this duality, Collier celebrates the juxtaposition of the weird and the mundane, often with some kind of twist or surprise ending. His style of writing makes him an ancestor of sorts to the types of stories that unfold in The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents- and, in fact, some of his stories have been adapted as episodes of both those shows. To give you a further taste of his style, here’s a brief synopsis of one of his stories:
A poet, having grown disenchanted with the world, decides to forsake it and live the rest of his days in a large department store, evading discovery by pretending to be a mannequin. Upon arrival, he discovers that the store is already inhabited by a secret society of people who over the years have had similar notions, all of them hiding from the world. Among this society is a charming young woman who didn’t choose to forsake the world. Instead, she got lost in the store as a little girl and was kept as a servant by the society’s imposing matriarch. The young man and the young woman fall hopelessly in love, and are determined to run off together. Unfortunately, the leader of the secret society finds out about it and places a call to a different secret society that lives in the nearby mortuary. The ‘dark men’ of the mortuary come and permanently turn the young lovers into mannequins despite their attempt to escape.
Sound weird? It is. But it also sounds fascinating. The above tale, titled “Evening Primrose,” is a perfect example of a John Collier story, and has gotten under the skin of such prominent artist as James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim, both of whom collaborated to adsapt it into a televised musical of the same name starring Anthony Perkins. Our world premiere production, Nightmares & Nightcaps, weaves together several of his best stories (though not Evening Primrose) into a single evening of darkness and delight. We hope you’ll join us- performances are August 17-September 15 in Chicago.
Tickets for our winter 2019 production, Evil Dead the Musical, are on sale now!- here's the link!
Black Button Eyes Productions is pleased to announce its 2018-19 season, kicking off late this summer with the world premiere of NIGHTMARES AND NIGHTCAPS: The Stories of John Collier, a non-musical adaption of British author and screenwriter John Collier’s phantasmagoric short stories. Written and directed by Producing Artistic Director Ed Rutherford, the production will feature choreography by Derek Van Barham and star Kevin Webb with additional casting to be announced.
The season continues in winter 2019 with the Chicago storefront premiere of EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL, a parody of Sam Raimi's classic Evil Dead horror films. Directed by Producing Artistic Director Ed Rutherford with choreography by Derek Van Barham, this spooky send-up features book and lyrics by George Reinblatt with music by Christopher Bond, Frank Cipolla, Melissa Morris and George Reinblatt.
NIGHTMARES AND NIGHTCAPS: The Stories of John Collier will be staged at The Athenaeum Theatre (Studio Two), 2936 N. Southport Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at athenaeumtheatre.org, by calling (773) 935-6875 or in person at The Athenaeum Theatre Box Office. EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL will be staged at Pride Arts Center (The Broadway), 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago. Ticket will go on sale at a later date.
Black Button Eyes Productions’ 2018-19 Season:
August 17 – September 15, 2018 NIGHTMARES AND NIGHTCAPS: The Stories of John Collier – World Premiere! Adapted and directed by Producing Artistic Director Ed Rutherford Choreography by Derek Van Barham Featuring Kevin Webb at The Athenaeum Theatre (Studio Two), 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago Press opening: Saturday, August 18 at 7:30 pm
Before the Twilight Zone, there was British expatriate John Collier, writing humorous stories about the bizarre and fantastical for The New Yorker and sardonic screenplays in Hollywood throughout the first half of the 20th century. In this world premiere adaptation, an ominous host weaves together Collier's comic tales of love, loss and the mysterious for the audience's delight.
January 11 – February 16, 2019 EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL – Chicago Storefront Premiere! Book and Lyrics by George Reinblatt Music by Christopher Bond, Frank Cipolla, Melissa Morris and George Reinblatt Directed by Producing Artistic Director Ed Rutherford Choreography by Derek Van Barham at Pride Arts Center (The Broadway), 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago Press opening: Friday, January 18 at 7:30 pm
It just wouldn't stay dead. Black Button Eyes Productions brings this loving musical parody of Sam Raimi's classic Evil Dead films back to the city for its Chicago Storefront Premiere. When a group of fresh-faced college kids go to a cabin in the woods for spring break, it's only a matter of time before spells are spoken and demonic possession begins. Take in the horror and hilarity in the gritty storefront setting where this show belongs!
About the Artists: Ed Rutherford (Adapter, Director) For Black Button Eyes, Ed most recently directed the Jeff-Recommended production of Nevermore - The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe (Chicago premiere), preceded by Shockheaded Peter (Chicago storefront premiere), Amour (Chicago premiere), Goblin Market and Stephin Merrit's musical adaptation of Coraline (Midwest premiere). Recent directing credits elsewhere include the Jeff-Recommended productions of The Liar with Promethean Theatre Ensemble and Paula Vogel’s The Baltimore Waltz at Brown Paper Box Co. He is an artistic associate at Promethean, where he staged his own world premiere adaptation of the Peter S. Beagle fantasy novel The Last Unicorn, Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle and the company's inaugural production, Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy. As an actor, he has performed with Drury Lane Oakbrook, Porchlight, Theater Wit and many others. A graduate of Northwestern's theater program, he is currently completing his MBA at Kellogg.
About Black Button Eyes Productions
The 2018-19 season continues Black Button Eyes Productions' mission to bring to Chicago premieres and seldom-seen works containing elements of fantasy, in which the magical and surreal invade reality. The company was founded in 2014 with the acclaimed Midwest premiere of the musical Coraline, and continued in 2015 by producing the musical Goblin Market in its first Chicago production in over 15 years, attended by the author, Chicago native Polly Pen. In the past few seasons, the company has produced the Chicago premiere of the musical Amour, the Chicago storefront premiere of Shockheaded Peter, and the Chicago premiere of the musical Nevermore - The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe.
- Where you were born/where were you raised? Born in Wisconsin, but mostly lived in Minnesota growing up.
- Zodiac sign? Scorpio
- What are/were the careers of your parents? Mom is an Accountant (just starting her own firm!), Dad works at Malt-O-Meal (yes, the place where almost all cereals are made)
- Do you have any Siblings? 2 younger sisters, and 2 step-brothers and 1 step-sister (her name is also Megan)
- Where were you trained?: Undergrad was at Millikin University and Grad School at FSU- Asolo Conservatory
- Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: A song I love using for auditions is “Mira” from CARNIVAL, a show I think needs a revival.
- Why did you want to be a part of Nevermore? I loved working with Ed on THE LIAR and got the chance to see SHOCKHEADED PETER. After the great experience I had and the fantastic show I saw, I knew that NEVERMORE was going to be something very special! I am so thrilled to be a part of this production!
- Recent show in Chicago (other than Nevermore) that you think is must-see: MARIE CHRISTINE, J.B., TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and IN THE NEXT ROOM is a favorite show of mine.
- Favorite Edgar Allan Poe poem or story? I’ve always loved “The Tell-Tale Heart” and now being familiar with more of his work, I really like “The Black Cat” and “Lenore”.
- What's your favorite non-Poe scary art? (can be a movie, book, painting, song, etc.) Edward Gorey!
- Most played song in your music collection: My “bedtime” playlist of ambient sounds.
- Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: During a community theatre production of HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON, the boy playing “Peter" got sick and I went on last minute as “Petra”.
- Worst onstage mishap: During a production of GAME OF LOVE AND CHANCE, I was about to make an exit when a piece of the door frame above me fell off and hit me on the head. I was fine, just a little bruise on my head and the show went on!
- Worst costume ever: I played a raccoon in a children’s production and the worst thing was that the costume was a onesie and a quick change but the zipper was always malfunctioning. More than once I had hold my onesie closed with my paw while dancing around to holiday music.
- Worst job you ever had: I’ve had so many jobs, but the most stressful was as a bike tour guide through Central Park in New York. I was terrified that I would lose tourists along the way.
- Craziest audition story: I don’t know if I have a “craziest”, I’ve just had so many that felt awkward or I was just out-of-my mind nervous.
- Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: There are so many I’d love to tackle, you could pretty much name a show and there would be a role I’d love to explore.
- What were you afraid of as a child? Dogs. Absolutely terrified. Not any more. I’ve love to adopt a dog, but instead I have a cat that acts like a dog.
- Where you were born/where were you raised? Elk Grove Village, IL
- Zodiac sign? Leo
- What are/were the careers of your parents? Dad - banker, Mom - medical journal publisher
- Do you have any Siblings? No.
- Where were you trained?: Lewis University
- Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: "One Knight" from Wonderland
- Why did you want to be a part of Nevermore? Seemed like a really interesting show and company to be involved with!
- Favorite Edgar Allan Poe poem or story? "The Raven."
- What's your favorite non-Poe scary art? (can be a movie, book, painting, song, etc.) "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs
- Most played song in your music collection: “Firework” by Katy Perry
- Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: In high school, I was in a production of Hairspray and I spent an entire scene running back and forth behind a fence during a scene with a dodgeball game. My family still references it.
- Worst onstage mishap: It was closing night of Urinetown and I got distracted by an ad lib on stage and ended up starting to say lines that were 3 pages beforehand...
- Worst costume ever: I was performing in A Little Night Music and I personally loved the costume, but all of my friends and family thought I looked like Captain Crunch. I even had the mustache.
- Worst job you ever had: Cleaning up garbage at my local children’s theme park
- Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: Javert in Les Miserables or Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen
- What were you afraid of as a child? Raccoons and tornadoes
- Where you were born/where were you raised? I was born and raised in Midland, MI
- Zodiac sign: Gemini
- What are/were the careers of your parents? My father was a high school math teacher and my mother was an accountant.
- Do you have any Siblings? I have two older brothers.
- Where were you trained?: I have a BMA in Voice Performance and Theatre from the University of Michigan
- Why did you want to be a part of Nevermore? I like the storytelling aspect of the play and I think Ed will do something creative and interesting with it.
- Favorite Edgar Allan Poe poem or story? “The Raven”, as my first experience with Poe, will always be my favorite
- What's your favorite non-Poe scary art? (can be a movie, book, painting, song, etc.) I don’t think it’s scary really, but I’ve always been a fan of Agatha Christie’s writing.
- Most played song in your music collection: I wish it was something more interesting, but honestly, it’s Sia’s “I’m Alive”.
- Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: I played Sir Dinadan in a production of CAMELOT my junior year of high school. It was memorable because it was a joint venture between both high schools in Midland, which wasn’t something that was done. My best friendships were forged during that show, and that’s why it’s my favorite.
- Worst onstage mishap: Completely forgetting where I was in the show during a performance of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH. I eventually got back into it, but those seconds were an eternity.
- Worst costume ever: It didn’t make it into the actual show, but my original costume for “Only in the Movies” in KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN was a bedsheet draped over me like a gigantic blue and white toga. It was hideous.
- Worst job you ever had: Summer stock in Indiana. The cast lived in a converted chicken coop and rehearsed on a concrete floor. The theatre roof leaked whenever it rained and we were eventually shut down because the theatre owner wasn’t paying for show rights.
- Craziest audition story: Not really crazy but fun. Boho’s LA CAGE AUX FOLLES back in 2009. They had us come to the generals in full drag.
- Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: There are so many…a couple I’m actually right for.
- What were you afraid of as a child? Bullies.