Oak Park producer helps bring back ‘Rain’
Randy Steinmeyer (left) and Peter DeFaria will reprise their original roles in "A Steady Rain."
‘A Steady Rain’
Chicago Commercial Collective, Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago
8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, July 11-Sept. 2; previews are 8 p.m. Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8; press opening is 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 10
$40, $35 for previews
Updated: June 13, 2012 3:51PM
Conditions are perfect for the return of “A Steady Rain.”
Keith Huff’s mesmerizing play about two police officers whose long-time friendship is tested because of a fatal mistake was a huge hit when it opened at Chicago Dramatists in 2007. After a six-week run there it moved to the Royal George Theatre for four more months.
A production opened on Broadway in 2009 with the producers casting Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig instead of the brilliant Chicago actors who originated those roles, Randy Steinmeyer (Denny) and Peter DeFaria (Joey).
Monty Cole, Brian Loevner and Aurelia K. Fisher are bringing the show back home to Chicago Dramatists as the first production of their new Chicago Commercial Collective. They have managed to lure both Steinmeyer and DeFaria back to the show, as well as director Russ Tutterow and the entire original design team.
Lifelong Oak Park resident Cole said that the two Chicago actors “are those characters. They speak exactly like them.”
The Collective decided to launch their company with “A Steady Rain” because, “We wanted a show that we could take the original production and make it happen now,” Cole said. “We knew that we could get the original team together again and that was really important to us.”
Cole’s theater experience dates back to his days at Julian Middle School where he participated in CAST (Communication Arts, Speech and Theater). “I did a show called ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,’ which is hilarious because it’s a really, really ambitious show,” he recalled. “We were doing Tom Stoppard and no one knew what they were saying.”
He also performed with the Oak Park Village Players and then, before he started his freshman year at Oak Park-River Forest High School, he was cast as Seymour, the lead in the school’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”
“I did a bunch of theater there,” Cole said. “When I left, I had 13 shows under my belt.”
Cole declared that his interest in theater and his varied experiences were “all inspired by my upbringing in Oak Park. The artistic and theater community in Oak Park creates ambitious people.”
While he attended Emerson College in Boston, Cole started Fireseed Theatre, a nonprofit performance ensemble that produced original works, serving as its artistic director.
When he returned to Chicago after college, Cole reflected, “I didn’t think that Chicago needed another nonprofit theater.” What he felt they needed was a way to extend successful shows when the space in which they were performing had to be cleared for another production.
“These shows were either closing or they’re put into New York,” he said. “Someone will try to take the work there even though they don’t have the Chicago cast, they don’t have the Chicago roots and they certainly don’t have the Chicago type of acting.”
While formulating plans for the Collective, Cole worked at Victory Gardens Theater through a Kemper Arts Management Internship. He has also worked with Lookingglass Theatre, the House Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Royal George Theatre.
Another project on Cole’s schedule is creating a performing arts space in Uptown “that really revitalizes that area,” he said.
Meanwhile, the producer and actor is supporting himself by working fulltime at Groupon.
“If you ever have any complaint or any sort of issue at Groupon, you’re probably going to talk to me,” he joked.
“Other than that,” Cole added, “I’m working really hard on making sure ‘A Steady Rain,’ our first production, is a big hit.”
Did we mention that Cole is 23?