iambe theatre ensemble to put on ‘Wake Up, Mrs. Moore’

Elgin theater group returns with its first production of Myatt’s story about the power of the human spirit

The iambe theatre ensemble returns with “Wake Up, Mrs. Moore,” by Julie Marie Myatt, opening April 12.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, April 12-27, and 2 p.m. Sundays, April 21 and 28, at the Elgin Art Showcase in the Professional Building, 164 Division St., eighth floor, in downtown Elgin. There also will be an evening Sunday performance at 7 p.m. April 14.

Tickets are $22 and available at

It is 1970 and Virginia Moore is in love with Glenn, and she is ready to change the future by marching against the war in Vietnam, and for equal rights for women. After being knocked unconscious by a beer bottle at a rally, she lapses into a coma. As her husband Glenn and sister Alma visit, 40 tumultuous years pass. While they share all she is missing, Virginia experiences an entire life for herself in Paris, and travels the world. When she miraculously awakes, Virginia, and the world, has transformed. Or has it?

About the iambe theatre ensemble

“Wake Up, Mrs. Moore” by Julie Marie Myatt is currently being produced by iambe theatre ensemble. The production is directed by the accomplished Gail Cannata and includes two of the company’s founders and veteran actors, Doreen Dawson and Shannon Mayhall, along with an exciting ensemble cast.

Alma (Shannon Mayhall) and her daughter Tracy (Shannon Bachelder) argue while Alma’s sister Virginia (Doreen Dawson) looks on in iambe theatre ensemble’s upcoming production of “Wake Up, Mrs. Moore.” Courtesy of iambe theatre ensemble

Started in 2021, iambe was formed to provide high quality theater that focuses on honest, provocative, compassionate explorations of the human condition, with an emphasis on the under-represented, particularly women of all ages, “a demographic not seen front and center enough on the stage,” Dawson said.

When asked why they chose “Wake Up, Mrs. Moore,” Dawson said, “I love that there are so many themes in this play, really something to relate to for everyone, but it’s mostly about people trying to find their way in the world and their place in it, and how all the plans we make ultimately have little to do with what actually changes us and makes us who we are. There is also a ton of humor in the script. We do need to laugh at ourselves even during the most trying of times.”

Mayhall added, “What drew me to this play was the idea of someone whose dreams are realized in a comatose state, and then, when brought back to reality, makes the decision to live the way she wants to live.”

Virginia (played by Doreen Dawson) gets an assist from nurse Susan (Susan Anderson) in iambe theatre ensemble’s “Wake Up, Mrs. Moore.” Courtesy of iambe theatre ensemble

Director Gail Cannata stated, “My favorite aspect of directing is seeing the words on the page come to life and watching the actors find the driving force of their character. This cast was discovering nuances at each rehearsal and that's a wonderful experience. The honest emotions in the script drew me in immediately and it’s so interesting to see how each character responds to and lives with a catastrophic event in a different way.”

About the producers

Doreen Dawson (as Virginia Moore) was last seen as “Filumena in Filumena: Marriage Italian Style” for Elgin Theatre Company, and previously as Hertha Aryton in “The Half-life of Marie Curie” at Janus Theatre, where she also performed in “Beowulf.”

She is co-founder/co-artistic director for iambe theatre ensemble, where she appeared in “Into the Breeches” (Winifred), “The Roommate” (Sharon), and “Gidion’s Knot” (Corryn).

Shannon Mayhall (as Alma) was most recently seen as Celeste in “Into the Breeches!,” Robyn in “The Roommate,” and Heather in “Gidion’s Knot”; all with iambe theatre ensemble, for which she is a co-founder. Other recent performances include: “Native Gardens” (Virginia) with Williams Street Repertory.

Liz Recht Johnson (producing partner) returns to the theater in the different role of producing, having worked with iambe on “The Roommate” and “Gidion’s Knot.” In former days, her work was on stage, performing in musicals.

About the director

Gail Cannata’s favorite role in theater is directing although, on occasion, she does appear on stage. A few notable directorial productions were: “Now and Then,” “The Cemetery Club,” “Tuesdays with Morrie,” “Suite Surrender,” “The Kitchen Witches,” “Grace & Glorie,” “Making God Laugh,” “Rose Colored Glass,” and more. On stage favorites were: “Southern Fried Funeral” (Ozella), “Over the River & Through the Woods” (Aida), “Miracle on South Division Street” (Clara) “Barefoot in the Park” (Ethel) and “The Last Noel: (Eve). She also directed the actors for the annual Bluff City Cemetery Walk (Elgin) in past years. Her next directorial project will be in “August: The Foreigner” at Stagecoach Players in DeKalb.

About the production team and cast

The production team includes: producers Shannon Mayhall of Cary, Doreen Dawson of Geneva, and Liz Recht Johnson of Riverside; director Gail Cannata of Naperville; stage manager Christopher Yee; assistant stage manager Hunter Adkins; sound and lighting designer Sean Hargadon of Elgin; costume designer Kit Medic; board operator Kurt Lemke; social media marketer Heidi Swarthout; and graphic designer Matt Hellyer.

The cast includes Doreen Dawson (Virginia), Brian Koester (Glenn), Shannon Mayhall (Alma), Brandon Frederick (George), Susan Anderson (Susan), Shannon Bachelder (Tracy), and Hunter Adkins (George/understudy).

To learn more, visit or check out iambe theatre ensemble on Facebook.

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