Cairns co-directs the Drama Group’s ‘God of Carnage’
By Jessi Virtusio email@example.com Twitter: @JessiVirtusio June 12, 2013 4:28PM
Michael (Kyle Decker) holds a bottle away from his wife, Veronica (Betsey Manzoni), in a scene from the Drama Group’s production of “God of Carnage.” | Diane and Chuck Kaffka photo
‘GOD OF CARNAGE’
♦ 7:30 p.m. June 14-15 and 2 p.m. June 16 at the Drama Group Studio Theatre, 330 W. 202nd St., Chicago Heights
♦ Tickets, $19 for adults, $18 for ages 65 and older, $15 for students or groups of 25 or more
♦ (708) 755-3444;
♦ This show contains adult themes and language
Updated: July 15, 2013 3:32PM
Chuck Cairns and his wife, Deb, originally planned to audition to act in the Drama Group’s production of “God of Carnage.”
But when the original director of the comedy-drama had to back out, the Cairns put in a bid to direct it and landed the job.
“Both Deb and I really love the play,” Cairns, of Park Forest, said.
“We auditioned it in March and had a nice, long, productive leisurely period of about 12 weeks.
“It’s a four-character show. That gave us a lot of leeway to work with some very good actors.”
The cast features Kyle Decker, of Homewood, as Michael; Betsey Manzoni, of Chicago, as Veronica; James Kenjorski, of Chicago, as Alan; and Maria Barwegan, of Kankakee, as Annette.
“The show is such a gleefully hysterical study of human nature and the little thin veneer that separates us from lesser animals in the evolutionary rung and keeps us from devolving into children and animals ourselves,” Cairns said.
“It’s also fueled with more than liberal offerings of rum as a gimmick within the show.
“The way Yasmina Reza has structured the play going from a civilized beginning to the train wreck behavior of these four characters is really superior playwriting.”
“God of Carnage” received Tony Awards for best play, best direction (Matthew Warchus) and best actress (Marcia Gay Harden) in 2009.
Those familiar with the Drama Group are no strangers to Cairns and his wife, who have been staples with the theater troupe.
“Deb and I, we both love theater very much and that’s how we met originally through the Drama Group years ago,” Cairns said.
“She was assistant directing a play (‘Two for the Seesaw’ and I was in it back in the late 1970s, and we started dating and got serious. We were married over 32 years ago.
“I’ve been involved in theater in the south suburban area off and on for 40 years and Deb (has been involved) almost as long. We just have a passion for theater. We really enjoy it.
“We directed a production of ‘Pippin’ in an earlier iteration for the Drama Group back in 1980. We have standards that we both agree to and adhere to.
“While we may each have an opinion, we pretty much reach an easy concession on how to do it. It helps share the load.”
The Cairns’ work for the Drama Group has included co-directing “The Laramie Project” in 2011 and acting together in “Moon Over Buffalo” in 2001.
“We enjoyed it very much and had great success with it,” Cairns said of the latter production. “We are staples there and really enjoy the folks we work with there.”
For “God of Carnage,” the Cairns have help behind the scenes from assistant director Kim Amacher, of Frankfort.
The crew also includes Russ Hoganson, of Homewood, on set design; Jen Larkin, of New Lenox, on lighting design; MJ Renzie, of New Lenox, as construction lead; Nancy Gallagher, of Homewood, on costumes; and Bernie Jablonski, of Park Forest, on props.
“Deb and I are very fortunate to have a collaboration of talent both onstage with our cast of actors and working offstage with us to help make it truly an enjoyable experience for us,” Cairns said.
“‘God of Carnage’ provides a nice little voyeuristic look at representation.”
Jessi Virtusio blogs about music, movies and more at blogs.southtownstar.com/entertainment, where one can soon find more of Chuck Cairns’ comments about the Drama Group.