The Happiest Place on Earth
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West Coast Premiere
The Happiest Place on Earth
By Philip Dawkins
Directed by Jonathan L. Green
Production Sponsors: James Dolton and Doug Katzenmeyer
March 15-April 15, 2018 // Opening March 24
Once upon a time in 1955, a magical kingdom was built on the founding principles of dreams, American idealism, and our wildest hopes. Eight years later, a quintessential American family reeling from the loss of their King embarks on a quest for restoration and deliverance in this kingdom. 50 years later, their expedition is brought to dazzling life in an effort to understand one’s place in family, the American way, and whether happiness is truly a place where dreams come true.
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Philip Dawkins is one of the most prolific LGBT playwrights working today and with this production he makes his long-awaited Diversionary debut. This autobiographical solo show is an incisive look at the fabric of our American values and founding spirit through the lens of Southern California’s favorite tourist destination. The story takes an unexpected and sly look at how the LGBT voice fits into the larger American paradigm. The writing has a natural wit and comedic style while being grounded in a deep, emotional, personal story, that will make you laugh, think and feel in equal measure.
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Philip Dawkins is a Chicago playwright and educator. His plays include Le Switch (About Face Theatre, The Jungle), The Homosexuals (About Face Theater), and Dr.Seuss’s The Sneetches, the Musical with composer David Mallamud (Children’s Theater Company, Minneapolis), as well as many plays for young audiences and performers. He received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work for his plays Charm (Northlight Theatre) and Miss Marx: Or The Involuntary Side Effect of Living (Strawdog Theatre), as well a the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Solo Performance for his play, The Happiest Place on Earth (Side Show Theatre/Greenhouse Theater Center). His play, Charm will receive its NY premiere at MCC this fall, 2017 under the direction of Will Davis. Philip teaches playwriting at Northwest University, Loyola University Chicago, DePaul University and through the Victory Gardens ACCESS Program.
Jacque Wilke (Performer) Jacque is thrilled to be back on the Diversionary stage! Recent credits: Diversionary Theater: Ballast, The Divine Sister, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, Scrooge in Rouge, Next Fall, Fair Use, The New Century, Anita Bryant Died for your Sins; Moxie: Ironbound, Or; Backyard Renaissance Theatre: Abundance; Cygnet Theatre: Stupid F*cking Bird, The Importance of Being Earnest, Travesties, and Mistakes Were Made; San Diego Repertory Theater: Honky (Craig Noel Award); La Jolla Playhouse: Yoke, The Car Plays; Intrepid Theater: The Winter’s Tale, All My Sons; North Coast Repertory Theatre: Unnecessary Farce, Lend me a Tenor, Mistletoe, Music, and Mayhem, and Don’t Dress for Dinner; Moonlight at the Avo: Blithe Spirit; New Village Arts: The Seven Year Itch, and The Heidi Chronicles; Circle Circle Dot Dot: Red Planet Respite, The Break-up Breakdown; Bang Productions: Side Man; Jacque is a proud member of Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA.
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Jonathan L. Green (Director) has been the artistic director of Sideshow Theatre in Chicago, Illinois since its founding in 2007. He has directed and assisted for Sideshow, Greenhouse Theater Center, Lookingglass, Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, Diversionary Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Theatre Seven of Chicago, Pavement Group and the Earl Hamner, Jr. Theatre. Recent projects include truth and reconciliation, The Happiest Place on Earth, Antigonick, Stupid Fucking Bird, Idomeneus (Joseph Jefferson Award for ensemble), and others. Recent dramaturgy credits include Blind Date, Objects in the Mirror, Gloria, War Paint, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, and Disgraced, all at Goodman Theatre. Jonathan is a graduate of the University of Virginia, currently serves on the board of directors of the League of Chicago Theatres, and is the literary manager for Goodman Theatre.
Elisa Benzoni (Costume Design) Elisa is thrilled to be working again with Diversionary Theatre. Select credits include: Ballast, Mystery of Love and Sex (Diversionary Theatre), Sex with Strangers (Geffen Playhouse), The Who and The What, Our Town; Tall Girls; Brahaman/I; Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir (La Jolla Playhouse); Constellations (Old Globe); Two Gentlemen of Verona, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Reckless, Much Ado About Nothing and Measure for Measure (USD/Old Globe); Travels with my Aunt, The Illusion, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, The Cocktail Hour, Fox on the Fairway (Nominated for a Craig Noel Award), Chapatti, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Great Nome Gold Rush (North Coast Repertory Theatre); Awake and Sing, Sylvia (New Village Arts); Assistant costume credits: Dialogues des Carmelites (Teatro Petruzzelli, Bari), Paradise Found (Menier Chocolate Factory, London), Milk Like Sugar (La Jolla Playhouse), As You Like It, Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Old Globe). Elisa holds a costume design MFA from UCSD. www.elisabenzoni.com
Kristen E. Flores (Scenic Designer) Past design credits: Cardboard Piano, The Moors, Homos or Everyone in America, A Civil War Christmas, Bright Half Life andBaby With the Bathwater (Diversionary Theatre), Tarrytown (Backyard Renaissance), Eternally Bad (Moxie), God of Carnage and American Hero (New Village Arts), Almost, Maine (Onstage Players), Globe for All–Twelfth Night (The Old Globe), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Triad Productions), Ragnarok and Red Planet Respite (Circle Circle Dot Dot). Kristen was Prop Master and Stage Master for The White Theatre at The Old Globe from 2014 to 2016. She is currently the Scenic Charge and Prop Master for San Diego State University. For more on Kristen please visit www.kristenflores.org.
Curtis Mueller (Lighting Designer) returns to Diversionary having designed Cardboard Piano, Homos, Well, 2.5 Minute Ride, Lizard Boy, Manhandled, Now or Later, A Civil War Christmas, Amazons and Their Men, Man Clan, and A New Brain. Select local credits include: Withering Heights, Margin of Error (Roustabouts Theatre Company); End of The Rainbow, Quality of Life, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, I Hate Hamlet, All My Sons, Macbeth (Intrepid Theatre Company); Big River, The 1940s Radio Hour, Seascape (New Village Arts); Chess in concert, Next to Normal, Spring Awakening (Cabaret at the Merc Summer Series). Curtis has also worked extensively with Coronado School of The Arts. Curtis holds a BFA in Lighting Design from California Institute of The Arts.
Michael Huey (Sound Design) A composer based in Chicago, Michael and has worked with companies such as Lookingglass, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakes, Adventure Stage, North Park University, Sideshow, and many more. In Los Angeles he composed the score to the Lance Henriksen film Dark Awakening. officialmichaelhuey.com
Bonnie Durben (Properties Designer) Diversionary Theatre: The Moors, 2.5 Minute Ride, Well, Ballast, Mystery of Love and Sex, The Boy who danced on Air, Now or Later, She-Ranculas, Baby With The Bathwater, A New Brain and Amazons and Their Men. Moonlight Theatre Productions: Aida, Little Mermaid, Sunset Blvd, In The Heights, Sister Act, Peter Pan, Titanic, Addams Family, Music Man, Shrek, All Shook Up and Big Fish. Scripps Ranch: Skin Deep, Good People. Mira Costa Theatre: Waiting For Lefty, Oklahoma, These Shining Lights, Romeo and Juliet, Seven, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Urinetown. Cygnet Theatre: Animal Crackers, On The Twentieth Century and 57 other productions. Bonnie is a member of the Society of Property Artisans and Managers.
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“Dawkins cagily conjures a fascinating portrait of himself, and of America, with all its unsettling mix of dark denial and sweet nostalgia. And he does so with a winning sense of childlike innocence and the wistfully knowing, if not entirely jaded edge of an adult.”
– Chicago SunTimes