Post-Tribune

‘Lips Together, Teeth Apart’ offers taste of summer at Chicago Street Theatre

- By Philip Potempa Philip Potempa is a freelance reporter for The Post-Tribune.

January’s Northwest Indiana weather made director Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano and set designer Allison Granat long for summer while building a water-filled pool and working beach shower at Chicago Street Theatre in Valparaiso.

“We’re letting audiences know when they buy their tickets, if they purchase the front row, they might get a little bit splashed,” Formosa-Parmigiano said.

“It takes a lot of gallons of water to fill the pool, and the working shower effect is created by using a camping shower pump and tank.”

The “splashy” scenic design is key to the 4th of July events that unfold during performanc­es 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays Jan. 19-28 at Chicago Street Theatre for Terrence McNally’s dark comedy “Lips Together, Teeth Apart.”

The play is next in the theater’s 69th season but was originally scheduled for the 2020 season which was paused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

McNally is the playwright of the Tony award-winning musical adaptation­s of “Ragtime” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” before writing “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” about two straight couples spending the weekend at Fire Island, the seaside resort community south of Long Island which usually draws gay vacationer­s.

The play is set in the early 1990s, when AIDS was creating a fearful climate.

Set designer Granat, sporting double duty, is cast in the role of Sally, the painter who has inherited the beach house belonging to her late brother David, who died of AIDS.

Visiting the house for the first time with her husband Sam, played by Michael Glorioso,; sister-in-law Chloe, played by Anne Nicholls,; and Chloe’s husband John, played by Erik Gollnick,; the holiday quickly devolves into debate, discussion and disclosure, including secrets, mystery and an extramarit­al affair.

Originally intended to open on Broadway in 2010 starring Megan Mullally and Lili Taylor in the female leads, creative difference­s shelved the run.

The original off-Broadway run opened a decade earlier in May 1991 starring Christine Baranski and Swoosie Kurtz opposite Nathan Lane and Anthony Heald.

“I’ve wanted to do this play for quite a while,” said Formosa-Parmigiano, who is also the artistic director for Chicago Street Theatre and heads the script selection panel.

“It’s not an easy work to direct, so it’s not a play that’s produced often. There’s a lot of eating and drinking in this story, including grilling real hamburgers which need to be eaten by the cast, which is in itself a challenge while delivering lines. This is a play that deals with strong themes of sexuality, prejudices and social norms, while still very entertaini­ng and fun.”

Codirectin­g with Formosa-Parmigiano is Tyler Mills, who reminds that the play contains adult themes, strong language and a mention of suicide.

Formosa-Parmigiano said the play is three acts with one intermissi­on and a running time of two hours and 15 minutes.

Gollnick said co-director Mills encouraged him to audition for the role of John.

“I really didn’t know much about the play or the characters,” said Gollnick, of Kouts.

“After reading the script, I liked the complex nature of the relationsh­ip of all the characters and how the story is presented to the audience.”

 ?? CHICAGO STREET THEATRE ?? A dark comedy set in a scene of summer sun, “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” by Terrence McNally is the new run through Jan. 28 at Chicago Street Theatre in Valparaiso starring Michael Glorioso, from left, Allison Granat, Anne Nicholls and Erik Gollnick.
CHICAGO STREET THEATRE A dark comedy set in a scene of summer sun, “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” by Terrence McNally is the new run through Jan. 28 at Chicago Street Theatre in Valparaiso starring Michael Glorioso, from left, Allison Granat, Anne Nicholls and Erik Gollnick.

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