Theatre Program Preparing Groundbreaking Spring Musical

North Park theatre producer Chad Eric Bergman, Ph.D.

CHICAGO, IL (February 9, 2007) – Last year, a production at The House Theatre of Chicago stirred the creative juices of then-sophomore Joe Giovannetti and Chaz Evans C’2005. They shared their "what if" and "if only" dreams of a "rock and roll graphic novel for the stage" with North Park University theatre program producer, Chad Eric Bergman, Ph.D., who surprised them with his response - "Why not?"

Thus began a creative process that spanned the following summer, during which Chad Eric and Joe, a native of Naperville, Ill., penned a first act, and fall, which saw a second act take shape. Joe's personal suburban experience led to desire to "peel away the veneer of suburbia" and "find out what's at stake underneath." Even as Chaz puts the final touches on a six-song pop rock score, rehearsals commenced on February 6 with a cast of 25 including professionals, students, and even a faculty member.

Kung Fu Suburbia, the ambitious production sprouting from the creative musings of these North Parkers and others, will premiere April 18-22, 2007 in the University’s Lecture Hall Auditorium. An attempt to accurately translate a graphic novel to the stage, periodic songs will mark Kung Fu’s transition from one vignette to another just as comic book cover art serves as the transition piece within graphic novels.

The production will draw upon resources across North Park's campus and the city of Chicago. In addition to writing by Bergman and Giovannetti and music by Evans, campus contributors include student Bjorn Amundson, who will provide projection graphics (conjuring the image of flight), student Nigel Harsch, who will assist Evans in creating the suburban soundscape, and professor Judson Curry, a member of the cast. R&D Choreography is responsible for "violence design," while set design, lighting, and various production areas will be overseen by professionals from renowned Chicago theatre groups like The Lookingglass, Barrel of Monkeys, Vittum and the Neo-Futurarium.

Even as alumni return to contribute to University performances, Bergman points to their accomplishments off-campus in their post-North Park years as evidence that the storefront theatre model he uses at North Park is working. Choosing to focus on the University’s strengths, Bergman educates his students first-hand in the "amazing, honest, fantastic work" that can be done with small production budgets and cast members cross-trained to fulfill roles ranging from acting to lighting to grant writing to set construction. Bergman is quick to point out that each of the 2006 theatre graduates who have remained in Chicago have successfully found positions – a testament to depth and breadth of experience North Park theatre provides for students.

Further details concerning Kung Fu Suburbia will follow on North Park's home page and the North Park Press student newspaper.