Review: Bus Stop (Raven Theatre)

| October 19, 2011
Sophia Menendian as Elma and Jen Short as Cherie  - Bus Stop, Raven Theatre       
Bus Stop

Written by William Inge 
Directed by JoAnn Montemurro 
at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map)
thru Dec 11  |  tickets: $   |  more info

Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review


This blizzard story comes with heart-warming guarantee


Michael Stegall, Jen Short

Raven Theatre presents
Bus Stop

Review by Katy Walsh 

Chicago knows from recent firsthand experience that a blizzard puts people in unexpected situations.  Being snowed in together makes friends… strangers, and strangers…friends. Unable to move on from unpleasant conditions, people become physically stuck.  Digging a way out doesn’t always mean a clean exit.  Raven Theatre Sophia Menendian, Jen Short, Jon Steinhagen, Michael Stegall, Mark Prachtpresents Bus Stop.  A blizzard strands a busload at the local diner.  The eclectic group of misfits fills the room with oddness.  A nightclub singer tries to escape her abductor.  A professor gets his drink on. An owner battles a headache.  A cowboy wrangles his new filly.  A driver takes advantage of the lay-over.  They mix it up with a strumming guitarist, reading waitress, and the peace-keeping sheriff.  The diner is serving up scrambled eggs with a side of transformation.  Bus Stop breaks people at the crossroads of life.  

Playwright William Inge creates homespun characters from Anywhere, USA.  Inge traps them in close quarters.  No place to hide from each other or themselves.  Under the direction of JoAnn Montemurro, the road to self discovery is well-paced and natural.  The talented cast organically embraces their personas. A staggering Jon Steinhagen (Dr. Lyman) pontificates slurred literature.  Steinhagen is hilarious!  A sweetly innocent Sophia Menendian (Elma) jars Steinhagen’s subtle awakening.  Their chemistry charms with unexpected mutual adoration.  Michael Stegall (Bo) fits a lot of personality on a little stage.  A high-spirited cowboy, Stegall corrals laughs and empathy.  His sidekick Mark Pracht (Virgil) intrigues with a discerning transition.  Jen Short (Cherie) goes from distressed showgirl to uncertain homegirl. Bringing a lot of local character to the eatery, Kristen Williams is the wise-cracking owner, Antoine Pierre Whitfeld is the tender-hearted sheriff, and Dean LaPrairie is the smooth-talking bus driver.

Raven Theatre - Bus Stop by William Inge

Dirty linoleum, coffee percolator, day-old-doughnuts-under-glass, the vibe is pure diner from yesteryear. Scenic Designer Ray Toler uses extraordinary detail to create an ordinary look. There is a neon sign in the window and a closed/open flip-sign on the door. I swear I’ve eaten here before. Although it looks familiar, Bus Stop houses some snowbound surprises. Special attention is paid to customer satisfaction. Everyone leaves the restaurant fueled for the next leg of the journey. This blizzard story comes with a heart-warming guarantee.

Rating: ★★★

Bus Stop continues through December 11th at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm.  Tickets are $30, and are available by phone (773-338-2177) or online at More information at time: Two hours, which includes one intermission)

All photos by Dean LaPrairie 




Jon Steinhagen (Dr. Lyman); Dean LaPrairie (Carl); Sophia Menendian (Elma); Mark Pracht (Virgil); Jen Short (Cherie); Michael Stegall (Bo); Antoine Pierre Whitfield (Will); Kristen Williams (Grace)

behind the scenes

JoAnn Montemurro (director); Ray Toler (set designer); Diane D. Fairchild (lighting); Joelle Beranek (costumes); Andrei Onegin (tech director); Melissa Schlesinger (sound); Mary O’Dowd (props); Amanda Rozmiarek (scenic artist); Justin Castellano (master electrician); Cathy Bowren (stage manager); Dean LaPrairie (photos)

Sophia Menendian, Antoine Pierre Whitfield, Jon Steinhagen Mark Pracht, Michael Stegall, Antoine Pierre Whitfield

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Category: 2011 Reviews, Katy Walsh, Raven Theatre, William Inge

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