December 02, 2021
Local News


Local News

Chit Chat: Crime and comedy to come to Steel Beam stage

ST. CHARLES – As the Christmas season comes to a close, you may find yourself worrying about how you’re going to pass the time once the entertainment void that is January rolls around. Well, fear not, because St. Charles’s own Steel Beam Theatre has your back with its new show, “Random Theft and Other Acts.”

The show follows three suburbanites who get a little bit more than they bargained for when they dip their feet into the world of crime during the 2008 recession.

Helmed by director Marge Uhlarik-Boller, “Random Theft and Other Acts” takes elements of crime and comedy stories to bring audiences an engrossing experience that is both harrowing and hilarious. Fans of films such as “Fargo” should feel right at home.

Kane County Chronicle intern Jonah Nink talked with Uhlarik-Boller over the phone about her experience working with the play. The following is an edited version of their conversation.

Jonah Nink: How Long have you been with the Steel Beam Theatre?

Marge Uhlarik-Boller: I’m at the start of my second year. I started in September of 2015. Before that I was their resident director, though, so it’s not like I haven’t worked here before.

Nink: And how long have you been directing?

Uhlarik-Boller: Very long! … Well I would say that would be close to 40 years, frankly – 35 years, 37 years … something like that. … I did start when I was young, but I have been directing a really long time. I’ve directed well over 100 plays.

Nink: Now what keeps you coming back? What interests you so much about drama and theater?

Uhlarik-Boller: … For those of us who do theater, theater is our home. It’s where you feel very comfortable. You’re able to be creative. You’re able to be collaborative. You can find ways to tell stories that are beyond just simple communication with other people. You see other people’s life stories, whether it be real or imagined, and it’s a way to communicate about yourself. All artists need a way to communicate. If you’re a fine artist, you do it with paint or clay, and if you’re a theater artist, you do it with stories.

Nink: Do you think all art tells a story?

Uhlarik-Boller: I do. I think at the very least, all art elicits a response, and I think the best art connects you from your life story to someone else’s, or just helps you to imagine what it would be like to be someone else. And that’s what the art of theater is about – using your imagination and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes … .

Nink: Moving on to the play itself, what should audiences be expecting?

Uhlarik-Boller: John David Westby has chosen a script that is really extraordinarily unique. This play is both a heist story, a story of a robbery, and it’s a comedy, and it’s also got a little bit of a thriller going on. … It’s a very interesting play, but it’s what I would frame as a “dark comedy” or “black comedy.” … I don’t know about you, but I always love heist movies. I always love the intrigue of “how did this happen” and what they’re in for, but what happens is [in the play] these suburbanites who actually rob a bank, discover that there are some people connected to this that are not necessarily from the suburbs. They’re a little bit tougher, and a little bit more fatal than what they were expecting. It’s a very interesting play where people make choices.

Nink: So, it has the vibe of a Coen brothers movie almost?

Uhlarik-Boller: It’s got a little bit of that, but it’s probably a little bit more urbane than “Fargo,” which has that great Minnesota humor, but – yeah – it does have that [vibe] where you’re laughing at something you’re not expecting to laugh at. … John’s got a really witty sense of humor … .

Nink: And who will be starring in this play?

Uhlarik-Boller: There’s seven actors in it. Ann Keen is playing Margey. And then her male counterparts are [played by] Sean Hargadon and Justin Schaller. And then we have R. Scott Purdy appearing [as] Henry. The next is Crystal Skipworth, and she’s playing Bridget. And then we have Frank Wiltse, and his character is Ross. And finally Jerome Marzullo, and his character’s name is Bird.

Nink: How have rehearsals been so far?

Uhlarik-Boller: Marvelous, so much fun. I have to be honest that in the last 10 or 15 years of my life, every show I direct seems to be so much fun to do, and it might just be my attitude and the people that I’m lucky enough to bring in around me. We just have a lot of fun. It’s very collaborative. People come up with ideas and work together, and we kind of plan things out together. … Right now we’re just figuring each other out and just figuring out what the next step from here is.

Nink: Are there any surprises that the audience should be looking out for?

Uhlarik-Boller: Yes! The ending has a great surprise to it.

Nink: Is there anything else you would like us to know about the play?

Uhlarik-Boller: … This is a terrific piece of theater. It’s exciting, it’s funny, and it’s going to keep you guessing, which I don’t know about everybody else, but that’s for me always interesting. … I love it when I can’t figure out how the ending is going to go.

“Random Theft and Other Acts” will run from Jan. 13 through Feb. 5 at the Steel Beam Theatre, 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. To buy tickets or for more information, visit steelbeamtheatre.com.