ERIC LANE BARNES’ “THE STOPS” MAKING CHICAGO DEBUT AT SKOKIE THEATRE

Producers of the three-year running critically acclaimed BAB FAB, Three Cat Productions, present their inaugural theatrical production with the award winning musical “The Stops”, written by Eric Lane Barnes and Drew Emery.  Jason Paul Smith makes his Chicago directing debut with this production.  “The Stops” stars Kevin Bishop, Paul Motondo, and Steve Kimbrough, 2010 Jeff Award Nominee for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in “Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical”.  Nick Sula, 2010 Non-Equity Jeff Award nominee for Music Direction in “The Glorious Ones”, is the Musical Director.    Jesse Pierce is the Choreographer.  “The Stops” will be playing every Saturday in June (June 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th), at 8pm only at Skokie Theatre Music Foundation.

Ginny, Euglena, and Rose are three ladies from  NALOG (North American Lady Organists Guild) who are touring the United States as “The Stops”.  They come to Skokie for one night only for a benefit for their mentor Dale Meadows, who was recently ousted from his music direction position due to his sexuality.  These women of three different faiths unite together to  spread the gospel by singing a number of church songs, ranging the comedy gamut from “The Potluck,” “It’s Raining Amen,” “A Bossa Nova for Jehovah,” “Hallelujah Aloha,” and “The Fundamental.” Ultimately, the three ladies of different faiths find ways to come together despite their theological differences, united in the love of music and the gospel.

Playwright Eric Lane Barnes, who’s composition for plays and chorus groups has received rave reception across the country, was inspired to write “The Stops” by a spontaneous drag experience while shopping with his sister in JC Penney.  With the dress he bought there and a red wig, Barnes explains, “I put everything on and figured I looked like nothing so much as a lady organist. I shaved my chest, wrote out my monologue, and put together a song to sing, with two backup singers.”  With that he created the fictional organization NALOG, or the North American Lady Organist Guild, and created a short performance which expanded into “The Stops”.  Barnes “had a blast writing bad rhymes and forced ‘messages’ like Rock n Roll of Ages”. Barnes was able to workshop “The Stops” at Gentry on Halsted and the “reception we received was enormous” for the first reading.  By the third reading, audience members were dressing up as their own NALOG characters!

Barnes finalized a script in 2001 with Drew Emery while living in Seattle.  The show first played in Richmond, Virginia, where the run was so successful it was extended for several months.  In 2006, the production won Best Musical and Best Technical Elements in the National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival.  The show also received glowing reviews when it ran in Madison on Stage Q in 2009.

The show is directed by Jason Paul Smith.  The cast includes Steve Kimbrough, Paul Motondo, and Kevin Bishop.  John Boss joins the cast on June 26th.  Choreographer is Jesse Pierce.  Musical Direction by Nick Sula.  The Stage Manager is Annalee Johnson.

“The Stops” will be playing on June 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2010 at 8pm.  All performances can be found at the Skokie Theatre Music Foundation, 7924 N. Lincoln Ave, Skokie, IL.  Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door.  Tickets can be ordered by calling 847-677-7761 or visit skokietheatre.org.  More information about “The Stops” and Three Cat Productions can be found at www.threecatproductions.com.