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posted: 1/3/2014 11:26 AM

'Other Desert Cities' opening in Glen Ellyn

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  • "Other Desert Cities," a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play about family dynamics, takes center stage beginning Jan. 17 in Glen Ellyn.

    "Other Desert Cities," a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play about family dynamics, takes center stage beginning Jan. 17 in Glen Ellyn.
    Courtesy of Village Theater Guild

By Robert Lundin
Village Theatre Guild

Glen Ellyn's Village Theatre Guild will present "Other Desert Cities" on weekends beginning Friday, Jan. 17, at the group's theater at Butterfield Road and Park Boulevard.

Written by Jon Robin Baitz, the play was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

It's the story of Brooke Wyeth, a family's "black sheep" liberal-minded daughter. Brooke returns home after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas in Palm Springs with her parents who are members of the conservative establishment. Brooke announces she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and explosive event in the family's history, a wound the Wyeths don't want reopened.

"As a theater person, I like plays that entertain me and are very interesting," says Director Sue Keenan, a founding member of the guild. "'Other Desert Cities' is, in truth, a very interesting play.

"It's a play about family dynamics," she says. "I always find it amazing that families can differ so much in their memories of growing up in the same household. This play is smart and engaging. It's about a clash of generations with different political views and a family secret."

Keenan says Brooke Wyeth's decision to publish the memoir "is not what you call betrayal."

Instead, she says, "the conflict revolves around a family secret and who has or has not the right to divulge it. Nor is it a political play. Politics are a small part of it. It is a play about a family dealing with the past and future."

Keenan says her secrets to a successful production are fairly simple.

"Cast it well," she says. "Do your homework and know the play backward and forward. A good script, good actors and good crews who all believe in the project can bring out the magic. As a director, I hope I can create the atmosphere where this can happen."

The cast comes from an assortment of the Western suburbs and includes John Vinopal of Arlington Heights, Susan Carr of Winfield, Debra Ruzicka of Palatine, Dianne Wawrzyniak of Rolling Meadows and Kevin Taylor of Willow Springs. Maggie Fredricks of Glen Ellyn is producing.

Fredricks and Keenan have teamed up for several other shows including "Love Song," "The Dining Room" and "Dinner with Friends."

"Other Desert Cities" takes the stage at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Jan. 17 through Feb. 8 with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Jan. 26 and Feb. 2. Tickets are $18.

For details, call (630) 469-8230 or visit

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