Review: Apartment 3A (Windy City Playhouse)

| October 12, 2016

Eleni Pappageorge and Peter DeFaria star as Annie and Dal in Apartment 3A, Windy City Playhouse           

Apartment 3A

Written by Jeff Daniels
Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving (map)
thru Dec 18  |  tix: $25-$55  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   


Off-kilter romantic comedy with a touch of the surreal


Jose Antonio Garcia and Eleni Pappageorge in Apartment 3A by Jeff Daniels, Windy City Playhouse

Windy City Playhouse presents
Apartment 3A

Review by Duane Barnes

I was looking forward to seeing this play because I have always admired the work of the playwright, Jeff Daniels, in the HBO series ”The Newsroom”. I was curious to see what he had would come up with for the stage, surprised to find out that he had actually written eight plays prior to this for the company he founded in Chelsea, Michigan. I was not to be disappointed, especially considering the production’s director, Ron OJ Parson, who has worked long and hard in the Chicago theater world and outside the windy city as well, and it’s apparent that he has honed his skills. Two hours long with intermission, the play seems to be over scarcely before it begins because the pace clips along, and I left the theatre fully satisfied. Apartment 3A is a love story but not the conventional Boy meets Girl etc. No, it’s very un-conventional, and the thread of the story keeps your interest at a high pitch.

Jose Antonio Garcia and Eleni Pappageorge in Apartment 3A, Windy City PlayhouseApartment 3A has a small but mighty, five person ensemble. The lead, Eleni Pappageorge (as Annie) is a dynamo, and throws her vast supply of energy into this role, which requires not only a carload of dialogue but a range of emotional work that is the bulwark of the play. She begins as a weary working woman, a face in front of the local PBS camera, who’s just been dumped by her boyfriend and is moving alone into Apartment 3A to try and put the pieces of her life back together. Enter her first contact, the landlord Dal (Peter DeFaria), a Chicago native if you’ve ever heard one, dressed like the “super” who lives on the premises, casually attired in his bathrobe. He sings the praises of the apartment, its location, the view (or lack of). Annie can’t wait to be alone in her misery, but Dal talks on. Finally departing, he admonishes Annie to keep her door closed because there’s been some break-ins. He leaves and Annie sits down, breaking into tears. Unaware as she mourns her situation, another character, Donald (Daniel Smith) walks in through the un-closed door. Startled, Annie soon finds out that Donald lives in the neighboring apartment. Donald begins a probing conversation with Annie, asking questions, making observations on her replies, coming across as an all together odd sort of character. Is this to be Annie’s new love? Somehow, he just doesn’t seem to fit the description of the Boy in Boy-meets-Girl, but he’s intriguing, keeping the audience’s attention with his questioning of Annie and his insightful comments. Donald is a “keeps-you-guessing” character, well played, gestures and movements perfectly suited to his role.

Dan Smith and Eleni Pappageorge as Donald and Annie in Apartment 3A by Jeff DanielsEleni Pappageorge and Peter DeFaria star as Annie and Dal in Apartment 3A, Windy City Playhouse Eleni Pappageorge and Jose Antonio Garcia star in Apartment 3A by Jeff Daniels, Windy City Playhouse Eleni Pappageorge and Peter DeFaria star in Apartment 3A by Jeff Daniels, Windy City Playhouse Eleni Pappageorge and Jose Antonio Garcia star in Apartment 3A by Jeff Daniels at Windy City PlayhouseEleni Pappageorge and Wardell Clark star as Annie and Tony in Apartment 3A

It’s at Annie’s work as marketing director at the TV studio that we meet the last two characters in this production. The first is her immediate boss, Tony (Wardell Julius Clark) who goes slightly berserk when Annie, missing some script while doing a fundraiser during a children’s show, somehow manages to predict the death of Big Bird. The other station employee is Elliot (Jose “Tony” Garcia). First serving as a buffer between Annie and Tony, we eventually realize that Elliot is head-over-heels in love with Annie, desperately wanting to have lunch-or dinner-or-anything with her. Lacking the graces and savoir faire for a woman like Annie, he bumbles and stumbles and seems so ill at ease (though eventually delivers a most touching monologue that reaches into your heart). Still, like Donald, Elliot doesn’t seem to fit the role of the Boy in the Boy-meets-Girl scenario either. So the audience (and this reviewer) is somewhat perplexed as to how this “love story” will conclude, but anxious to know. I urge you to come and find out for yourself.

The set is spare, resembling Annie’s life at the moment, yet manages to include her apartment and the TV studio – kudos to the scenic designer, Jacqueline Penrod. The costumes, by Kristy Leigh Hall, aptly fit the characters (see my note on Dal’s bathrobe above). Additionally, the lighting and sound designers, Jared Gooding and Eric Backus respectively add their expertise by supporting the performance in a way that does not beg your attention but enhances the mood. Lastly, a bow to the stage manager, Katie Klemme, who, like all good stage managers, makes sure only good things happen.


Apartment 3A continues through December 18th at Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park (map), with performances Wednesdays-Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays-Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $25-$55, and are available by phone (773-891-8985) or online through (check for half-price tickets at More at time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)

Dan Smith and Eleni Pappageorge as Donald and Annie in Apartment 3A, Windy City Playhouse

Photos by Michael Brosilow 




Wardell Julius Clark (Tony, u/s Elliot), Peter DeFaria (Dal), Jose “Tony” Garcia (Elliot), Eleni Pappageorge (Annie), Daniel Smith (Donald), Liza Massingberd, Matt Maxwell, Armando Reyes (understudies)

behind the scenes

Ron OJ Parson (director), Jacqueline Penrod (scenic design), Kristy Leigh Hall (costume design), Jared Gooding (lighting design), Eric Backus (sound design), Jamie Karas (properties design), Katie Klemme (productions stage manager), Rachel Jimenez (casting director), Carson Craig (technical director), Ardarius Backely (asst. technical director), Jack Korol (magic consultant), Rachel Flesher (fight choreographer), Cristin Carole (movement consultant), Wardell Julius Clark (fight and movement captain), Jacquelyn Bautista (asst. stage manager), Lauren Katz (asst. director), Eleanor Axt, Laura Durham, Tam Dickson (casting associates), Marc Chevalier (master electrician), Denis Henkel (electrician), Jessica Howe (scenic charge), Michael Brosilow (photos)

Jose Antonio Garcia and Eleni Pappageorge star as Elliot and Annie in Apartment 3ADan Smith and Eleni Pappageorge star as Donald and Annie in Apartment 3A


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Category: 2016 Reviews, Duane Barnes, Windy City Playhouse

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