All-male cast directed by R. Aaron Thomann of Elburn
by Martha Quetsch
R. Aaron Thomann was a perfect choice to direct Steel Beam Theatre’s latest production, â€œGlengarry Glen Ross,â€ for which the timing was just as ideal, said Donna Steele.
Steele, founder and artistic director of Steel Beam, said Thomann is a great director for any show, and has selected him for more than 15 previous productions; but he is especially suited to plays that he chooses, she added.
â€œAaron likes David Mamet a lot and really wanted us to do â€œGlengarry Glen Ross,â€ Steele said.
Thomann said he particularly likes Mamet’s realistic dialogue.
â€œHe writes how people actually speak. They talk over each other; they interrupt each other,â€ Thomann said.
Thomann, a technology manager for a major Chicago corporation, also brings a knowledge of the business world depicted in the Windy City-based play by David Mamet, Steele said.
Steele thought the play, about an office of Chicago Realtors and their intense competition, was a timely production to present this year.
â€œEven though it was first produced in the 1980s, we thought it was amazingly relevant now,â€ Steele said.
She hopes audiences will be able to escape their own economic woes by getting involved with the show’s characters’ troubles and the dark humor of their situations.
Steele said the sets are minimalist, including a basic depiction of the Chinese restaurant where the salesmen try to close deals. The reason for the stage’s simplicity, she said, is so that audiences focus on the show’s characters.
Bringing those characters to life is a cast that Thomann is proud to have directed. He said it was difficult to choose the actors,because there was an unusually high turnout for auditions. But because â€œGlengarry Glen Rossâ€ offers such great roles for men, Steel Beam’s auditions for the production attracted more than 40 actors.
Even though he regretted having to exclude some of those auditoners from the show, Thomann said he was excited by the interest.
â€œGetting male actors can often be a challenge,â€ Thomann said.
He said working with the cast he assembled has been rewarding, and believes their talent will make the production a success.
â€œIt’s really the actors that make the show,â€ Thomann said.
His cast includes Sean Hargadon, founder of Janus Theatre Company of Elgin; David Prentiss of St. Charles; Patrick Able of Geneva; Ed Pierce of Geneva; Trevor Luce of Chicago; and Jim Pierce of South Elgin.
The play contains strong language.
Photo: R. Aaron Thomann of Elburn (left) is the director of the Steel Beam Theatreâ€™s production of â€˜Glengarry Glen Rossâ€™ by David Mamet. Here, Thomann sets up the first scene during rehearsal on Monday. Also pictured, from left to right, Donna Steele, owner of the theater, and actors David Prentiss and Jim Pierce. Photo by John DiDonna