Gas For Less stirs Goodman’s audience with humor

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Gas For Less is a dynamic theatrical production playing now at the Goodman Theatre, directed by Dexter Bullard. Actor Ernest Perry Jr. is one of the principal stars, appearing in the world premiere of the play written by Brett Neveu.

The timely production was originally commissioned by Northlight Theatre and included in the Goodman’s 2007 New Stages Series, which explores issues of generational conflict and urban evolution as seen through the eyes and experiences of five memorable community members. Gas For Less is a poignant Chicago story with all of the elements that have earned Neveu rave reviews from critics and audiences alike.

“Fascinating characters, savage wit and humor, and dramatically resonant,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls in a written statement. “I’ve wanted to bring this young writer to the Goodman for a long time, and I’m thrilled that he has chosen Dexter Bullard%uFFFD” Falls added that Bullard has many directorial successes that have received extraordinary acclaim both in Chicago and New York.

Gas For Less is more than a play about a gas station, it is a play about community and change. Anthony(Rian Jairell) and is tough Croatian grandfather, Art (Robert Brueler) has their family business. The gas station was a nice, rowdy North Side Chicago hang out, where neighbors from all walks of life, including African American, Puerto Rican, Croatian and Pakistani people, came together to watch the Bear games over coffee and Camel cigarettes.

But the neighborhoods started changing and gentrification threatened the small mom-and-pop shops, causing the pumps to dry out, the coffee to burn and the customers to dwindle. And things only get worse when a sudden act of violence occurs at the station. The daunting question becomes: can the gas station be saved and is it even worth saving?

“It’s about letting go of the station, and letting go of is dreams of it being something that it can’t really be again,” said playwright Neveu in a written statement, who drew his inspiration for the play from real-life Chicagoan Phil Berman, and his North Side gas station of the same name, formerly located at Lincoln and Berteau Avenues.

“That station represented Chicago to me and now it’s gone.” Members of the cast include Perry as Pat Munson; Kareem Bandealy as Bilal Asif; Robert Breuter as Art Pelenkovich; Nathan Davis as Benji Colan and Rian Jairell as Anthony Pelenkovic.

Gas For Less, at the Goodman, 170 N. Dearborn St., continues until June 22. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday, Sundays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.

______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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