posted February 18, 2009

House Theatre of Chicago’s Tommy Rapley at Hope for Play

The department of theatre at Hope College is continuing the successful collaboration with the heralded theatre company The House Theatre of Chicago for the upcoming production of "Big Love."

Tommy Rapley, who is artistic associate for The House Theatre, has been working with Hope students on their upcoming production.

On working with the students, Rapley said, "In my own selfish way, I feel that if I can inspire them to make the work that I like to make or inspire them to fight with me about the work I like to make---I get to influence the type of theatre that gets produced in the future."

The House Theatre of Chicago began its rapport with HopeCollege when House Artistic Director Nathan Allen directed and co-created the original work "Rose and the Rime" with the students and faculty of Hope in April 2007. The production was selected to advance to the regional level of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and went on to gain the highest honor of the organization when the HopeCollege production was performed at the KennedyCenter in April of 2008.

Now The House Theatre of Chicago is producing "Rose and the Rime" with original cast member Brandon Ruiter, who is a 2008 Hope graduate, reprising his role as Jimmy. "Rose and the Rime" opens in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 19, and will continue through Saturday, April 11.   Following the opening of "Rose and the Rime" in Chicago, Hope College Theatre will open "Big Love" in the college's DeWitt Center main theatre on Friday, Feb. 27.

Rapley is an accomplished actor, choreographer and director. After he earned his degree in dance performance from Southern Methodist University, he spent two seasons as a soloist and company member of Ballet Memphis working on both contemporary and classical pieces. Rapley then moved to Chicago, dancing a season with the Joffrey and working with The House Theatre of Chicago. Since leaving the Joffrey, Rapley teaches and works as an equity artist with Chicago theatres such as The Goodman, Court, Hypocrites, Bailiwick, Strawdog, and The House Theatre of Chicago.

Rapley also provided insight on the new production of "Rose and the Rime." The House's "Rose and the Rime" will be unique from the production at Hope College; aside from the four central characters, the entire ensemble of characters is different. It will feature an original score by House composer Kevin O'Donnell.  The story also now has a new ending.   The original play at Hope ended with a desperate S.O.S. plea which symbolized a culture doomed to perpetuate a cycle of greed and violence.  Inspired by the new climate of change, the characters end the play looking forward with hope.

While The House's "Rose and the Rime" will change with the reworking, the company acknowledges the work of the Hope College students involved with the original. As Rapley said, "We fortunately, for the first time ever at The House get to work on a play that has already proved itself and that's due to the work at Hope."

The House Theatre's production of "Rose and the Rime" by Nathan Allen, Chris Mathews, Jake Minton and directed by Nathan Allen runs from Thursday, Feb. 19, through Saturday, April 11, at the Chopin Theatre, located at 1543 W. Division in Chicago.  Performance times and ticket prices are:  Thursdays, 8 p.m., $25; Fridays, 8 p.m., $27; Saturdays, 8:30 p.m., $29; Sundays, 7 p.m., $25.  The box office can be called at (773) 251-2195.  More information is available at thehousetheatre.com

Hope College Theatre's production of "Big Love," by Charles Mee and directed by Daina Robins, runs Friday-Saturday, Feb. 27-28, and Wednesday-Saturday, March 4-7, in the DeWitt Center main theatre.  All performances have an 8 p.m. curtain.

Tickets for "Big Love" are $7 for regular admission, $5 for Hope faculty and staff, and $4 for students and senior citizens, and are available at the Hope College ticket office located in the main lobby of the DeVos Fieldhouse.  The ticket office is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and may be called at (616) 395-7890.  In addition, the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWitt Center will be open on performance nights shortly before 8 p.m.

The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave., between Ninth and 11th streets. The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.