Orland Park Theatre Troupe Performs Local Playwright’s Work

Orland Park Theatre Troupe Performs Local Playwright’s Work
Posted on 11/15/2013

The Village of Orland Park Theatre Troupe’s holiday show has special meaning this year as the group is performing an original play written by one of its own. “A Simple Miracle” was written by longtime troupe member Bryan Riess of Orland Park.

“I started writing the show back in 2011,” Riess recalled. “I was thinking of a holiday show that would be fun to do but it took a good year, on and off, to complete it with revisions being made all the way up until August of this year,” the writer said.

Riess first joined the village’s troupe in 2010. “I had performed theater for years and took a long break before finding a home with Frann and the group,” he recalled. Riess is also in his fourth season with the village’s Orland Park Comedy Improv Team, “No Limit Laughs.”

“This is very exciting for everyone involved with the village’s theatre troupe,” said Patty Vlazny, the show’s executive producer. “Bryan has been involved with so many shows and with the improv team, it’s very moving to see his work come to life on the Orland Park stage,” she said.

“A Simple Miracle” takes place on Christmas Eve with the holiday anything but festive as two brothers learn that the inn they operate is being sold. A blizzard traps a cast of characters, including an angel, at the hotel, making for an interesting sequence of events.

“When we choose our holiday shows, we look for those that will have the audience leave with a nice, warm feeling --- a show that brings back great memories and truly touches hearts,” said Frann Carnivele, the troupe’s producer/director. “This show does just that. It’s a perfect feel good story for the season written by one of our very talented own,” she said.

An accomplished writer, Riess graduated from Elmhurst College with a double major in communications and English with a minor in theater. His first book was published by Publish America and his second book was published as an e-book with Borders Books. Riess’s 1995 play, “Here Comes the Bride,” was performed at Elmhurst College and he has two published novels available on Amazon.

Riess wrote “A Simple Miracle” with Orland Park’s theatre troupe in mind, noting, “I always wanted to perform it here and I designed the set with the Civic Center in mind, keeping everything simple and within our resources.”

Describing what it’s like to see his work performed, Riess said, “There is a surreal aspect to the whole thing. It’s easy to sit and write the words on a computer but to see the actors saying them and moving around is a completely different experience.”

“Hearing cast members laugh at the jokes is very satisfying,” Riess said. “On the flipside, it makes me very nervous. What I think is a good story, others may not. What I think is a great joke or funny line, others may not. There’s a lot of stress involved when it’s so personal,” he said, smiling.

Along with serving as assistant director, Riess appears in the show as Jack.

“Jack is our hero but he has a long road to travel before he can save the day,” Riess explained. “He is thrown into a situation that he’s unprepared for and is surrounded by problems. Jack struggles between what he wants and what is right. These are the struggles that the audience rides along with to drive the story,” he said.

Along with Riess, Orland Park residents appearing in the show include Camille Auskalnis, Emma Bohren, Ann Burns, Alexandra Callewaert, Maxwell Callewaert, Sophia Carroll, Rose Foley, Grace Kane, Allison Kazlauskas, Joanna Leafblad, Mollie McCormick, Dan McMillan, Jessie Moyar, Mary Tuminello and Taylor Villa. The cast also includes Gianna Ardolino (Tinley Park), Hannah Belair (Orland Hills), Rudy Chavez (Oak Lawn), Jim Mazeika (Burbank), Joe Nowinski (Chicago Ridge), Jamie Nowinski (Chicago Ridge) and Jessica Pyrkowski (Alsip).

“A Simple Miracle” will be performed at the Orland Park Civic Center, 14750 South Ravinia Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14. A 2 p.m. matinee will be presented on Sunday, December 15. Advanced reserve seating tickets may be purchased at the village’s Recreation Department at 14650 South Ravinia Avenue. Adult tickets are $13, with those for seniors and students costing $11. Children’s tickets are $9 each. A limited number of tickets may be available at the door.

For more information, call the Village of Orland Park Recreation Department at 708/403-7275.