ST. CHARLES – A reprise of one of the hole-in-one hits at Steel Beam Theatre is about to up the entertainment game this summer in St. Charles, with the return of the musical comedy, "Fairways." Also returning will be Donna Steele, the theater's founder and former artistic director, who will direct the show penned by her sister, a noted attorney turned author and playwright.
It's been almost two years since Steele stepped away to concentrate on acting roles for herself, becoming a member of Actors' Equity, a professional actors union. Stepping up to fill her shoes at Steel Beam has been seasoned director Marge Uhlarik-Boller.
Steele is pleased to be back for the special show, which stars returning performers Dana Teichart of Geneva, Joe Billquist of St. Charles and Linda Browne of West Dundee along with R. Scott Purdy of St. Charles, John Frankenthal of Geneva, Sarafina Monteleone of Aurora, Max McNeal Martin of Naperville, Michael Greenstone of Evanston, Sarah Smith Indendino of Schaumburg, Becca Duff of Chicago and Stan and Jean Austin, both of Wheaton. Donna Steele's son, Pete Steele, is technical director.
"Fairways" is described as the witty and sophisticated story of two people learning not only the game of golf, but also the life lessons it teaches. Book and lyrics are by Mary Hutchings Reed, and music by Curt Powell. The storyline has been reworked since it last was performed at Steam Beam in 2011.
"I have a terrific cast," Donna Steele told Kane County Chronicle reporter Renee Tomell. "I've seen every show [at] Steel Beam … it's my first time coming back [to direct]." The following is an edited version of the rest of the conversation.
Renee Tomell: The musical has continued to be refined over the years to pitch it to the wider world?
Donna Steele: I think it's marketable. That is a goal of [Mary's]. It's a great little show. … It's darling. There was one intermediate production at a theater [in Chicago]. The book has been rewritten. The stakes are higher [in the story]. There are two less characters. It's cleaner, more streamlined. The music is as wonderful as ever.
Tomell: Who are some of the characters?
Steele: There are three families. One has a son who doesn't golf. One has a daughter who doesn't golf, and the other family has a daughter involved with a guy who doesn't golf. … Everybody is intertwined. When there's a family with a boy and [a family with] a girl, you could guess – it's a love story. A lot of different storylines are going on at the same time.
Tomell: What style of music is in the show?
Steele: Mary wrote a rap song [when] this was first done in 2006. There's a rap, some blues, some gospel, and there are, of course, standard, ballads, swing – a lot of different styles in the musical. [The show is] comedic, upbeat, family friendly – good summer entertainment.
Tomell: Your sister has been enjoying great reviews as an author.
Steele: Mary … just won a bronze medal [in independent publishing] at the American Library Association conference [for] "One for the Ark." She [had written] this fiction about a man trying to build a replica of the ark before [an American recently] did it.
Tomell: Have you changed your directorial approach to "Fairways"?
Steele: The good thing about getting older is your memory fades, and I just started from scratch. The different cast makes you do different things. It will be a fresh, new approach.
If you go
WHAT: "Fairways," a musical comedy
WHEN: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, July 21 to 30
WHERE: Steel Beam Theatre, 111 W. Main St., St. Charles
COST: $22 to $28
INFO: facebook.com/SteelBeamTheatre, 630-587-8521; fairwaysthemusical.com