"Private Practice" actor returns to Chicago

June 3, 2010 7:08:45 PM PDT
After wrapping up shooting on ABC's medical drama Private Practice, Chicago actor-director Michael Patrick Thornton is back home. But he's not taking it easy.

The 24-year-old actor is working on a new production at the Gift Theatre. Suicide Incorporated written by Andrew Hinderaker and directed by Jonathan Berry is getting its world premiere by the theater company in Jefferson Park that Thornton founded.

Suicide Incorporated, which opens for previews on Thursday, June 10, was nominated for the New Voices in American Playwriting Award, following successful staged readings at Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens Theaters. Thornton is featured in the quirky show; the cast also includes Josh Rollins, Mike Harvey, Ed Flynn, Jay Worthington and Jim Farruggio.

Thornton describes the storyline of the dark comedy: It's been a tough week at work. Profits are down, lawsuits are up, and you totally forgot to bring something to the staff potluck. But none of that is even a minor concern compared to this: your boss is onto you. He's begun to suspect the truth -- you're trying to ruin the company by keeping its clients alive.

Thornton is a Chicago native who grew up in Jefferson Park. He chose to open his theater company in the neighborhood that didn't have any when he was growing up. The Gift, his company, has been an active theater in the Chicago community for ten years; the theater has Equity status and he is an Equity actor. Currently The Gift's artistic director, Thornton won a Joseph Jefferson Award for his role in The Good Thief. He also plays Dr. Gabriel Fife on ABC's Private Practice. Thornton, who suffered strokes seven years ago, has gotten a lot of attention because he's an actor in a wheelchair playing a character in a wheelchair on the hit ABC show. (See Karen Meyer's story on Thornton at http://search.abclocal.go.com/search/results?station=wls&search=siteSearch&q=gift+theater&submit.x=15&submit.y=11)

Andrew Hinderaker is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists and a nominee for the 2010 New Voices in American Playwriting Award. Additional recognitions include Finalist/Semi-Finalist status at Sundance, PlayLabs, The Princess Grace Award, the Heideman Award, and the Austin Film Festival. His plays have been produced or developed in New York, Los Angeles, and throughout his hometown of Chicago, at such theaters as Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, American Theater Company, Stage Left, the side project, and many others. His play, Suicide, Incorporated was selected for development at the 2008 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference and will premiere at Chicago's Gift Theatre in June 2010. Excerpts from the play are available in the Best Mens' Stage Monologues & Scenes (Smith & Kraus).

The Set Designer is Dan Stratton. The Lighting Designer is Sarah Hughey. Costume Designer is Emily McConnell and the Sound Designer is Matt Chapman.

Suicide Incorporated runs through July 25 at The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee, Chicago. For tickets, call 773.283-7071 or visit www.thegifttheatre.org.

Suicide Incorporated
June 10 through July 25
The Gift Theatre
4802 N. Milwaukee, Chicago
773.283-7071
thegifttheatre.org

(News release) ABOUT THE GIFT THEATRE

THE GIFT THEATRE is dedicated to telling great stories on stage with honesty and simplicity. Since its 2002 debut, The Gift has consistently established itself as an actors' theatre, consistently eschewing directorial cleverness for honest, powerful connections between the actors and the audience. With the conception of The Lab-an ensemble-only forum dedicated to artistic growth and exploration-The Gift continues to deepen its commitment to the idea of 'ensemble' by training together on an ongoing basis. Previous and future instructors in The Lab include Sheldon Patinkin, Jeff Perry, and Dr. Eric Forsythe.

Previous productions include One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Almost, Maine, Santa's Great American Depression Holiday Show! America 2: Son of Santa's Great American Depression Holiday Show! America, Summer People, The Ruby Sunrise, Talk Radio, Stop/Kiss, Santa's Great American Depression Holiday Show! America, Natural Gas, Streamers, W;t, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, White People, Three Sisters, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Blithe Spirit, 365 Days/365 Plays, The Halloween Show, Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Glass Menagerie (Remount-Theatre on the Lake), The Good Thief, The Clearing, Hurlyburly, The Glass Menagerie, The Pavilion, A Young Man In Pieces, Language of Angels, 6, County Fair, The Countess, Alcatraz (Abbie Hoffman Festival), Orestes 2.0, Boys' Life, and Sexual Perversity in Chicago (giftSYDNEY).

The educational program of The Gift Theatre Company, giftED, continues its work at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) by combining theatre and speech therapy to combat pediatric oral aversion. At the Chicago Public Schools, The Gift has staged productions such as Pecos Bill and created new pieces for the students, such as HOME / ROOM.

The Gift Theatre is the only professional theatre company in the working class neighborhood of Jefferson Park. As one of Chicago's most exciting theatre companies, The Gift is marked by acting of the highest caliber with continual training in The Lab, the important educational work being done at RIC through giftED, and sold-out houses on the northwest side of Chicago. Recent generous support has been provided by the Donnelley Foundation and Driehaus Foundation as well as the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council.


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