1040 Ridge Road
Munster, Indiana

Theatre at the Center presents the World Premiere of the new musical Knute Rockne All-American, which celebrates the life of the man who created American College football. The ragtime rhythms of the turn of the last century and the wild jazz of the 1920s punctuate this moving story of the winningest coach in the history of American sport. The musical will preview April 3, open April 10 and run through May 11 at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana. From Rocknes meager beginnings as an immigrant living in Chicagos Logan Square, to his glory years as the pride of Notre Dame, the story of Knute Rockne, played by Stef Tovar, unfolds through the direction and choreography of Jeff Award winner David H. Bell.

Knute Rockne, the legendary football coach known for his sportsmanship, was one of the most innovative and charismatic coaches of his era. The musical recounts his many accomplishments and milestones at the helm of Americas most famous football team. Rockne revolutionized the game of football and led his team to five undefeated seasons and the 1925 Rose Bowl championship. The inspiring production tells the story of a man with profound drive, determination and passion for life, both on and off the field. Knute Rocknes incredible life story, combined with first-rate musical numbers, makes this is an unparalleled World Premiere production, appropriately making its debut at Theatre at the Center.

Knute Rockne All-American is based on writer Buddy Farmers original play Coaches Off The Bench with Knute, Vince and The Bear which he also directed. This play, featuring the stories of some of the most prominent coaches of all time, Knute Rockne, Vince Lombardi and Bear Bryant, toured from 1994 through 1997 and was performed at The John Freud Playhouse at UCLA, Washington Hall at the University of Notre Dame, Super Bowl XXX in Phoenix and was the only play ever performed at The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Farmer re-wrote the musical based on what he found to be the most popular of the three icons, Knute Rockne. He titled the one act play Rockne, and opened it in Los Angeles. Over the course of many years, Rockne transitioned into a musical and a mini-series. In 1998, Farmer decided to create a new musical, based on this mini-series. David H. Bell signed onto the project as director and choreographer and Michael Mahler joined as composer. Ten years later, the World Premiere of Knute Rockne All-American will open at Theatre at the Center.

Writer Buddy Farmer is a graduate of the University of Alabama where he played football for Bear Bryant. He served in the US Army for three years and then worked for a sports promotion company that moved him to Los Angeles. After successfully climbing the corporate ladder for six years, he became an actor. In 1992 he made the move from actor to writer and director and began writing plays and screenplays. In addition to Knute Rockne All-American, some of his work includes The Barbeque, Louisiana Laundry and All Star.

Director David H. Bell's career has spanned a wide range of International and National projects as Director, Choreographer and author. He has served as Artistic Director of the historic Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. and as associate director to Kenny Leon at Atlantas Alliance Theatre. Bell inaugurated such World Premiere musicals as Elmer Gantry and Hot Mikado for which he won the Helen Hayes Award for Best Director. Bells work in Chicago at theatres including Chicago Shakespeare and Marriott Theatre has earned him 30 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations, for which he has won nine. In New York City, Bell has directed both on and off Broadway including highlights such as Diffa Tribute to Edith Head with Michael Douglas and Julianne Moore, Heartstrings with Sandy Duncan and Patti LuPone and the Museum of The City of New York salute to 130 years of the American Musical Give My Regards to Broadway at Carnegie Hall.

Internationally, Bell has worked on London's West End, Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, Budapest, Vienna and more. Bell has directed and choreographed productions authored by Jimmy Buffett and Herman Wouk, Cy Coleman and Russell Baker, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, Tony Macaulay, and Dick Vosburgh, and as book writer with Craig Carnelia. With Rita Abrams, he created the long running Las Vegas hit Men Are From Mars/Women Are From Venus for the Flamingo Hotel.

At 17, composer Michael Mahler became the youngest composer ever published by GIA publications, the nations largest Catholic liturgical publishing company. He has since released five recordings of liturgical songs. Mahler earned his Bachelors degree in Theatre at Northwestern University, where he wrote about 50 songs for the annual Waa-Mu Show. Since then he has contributed music, lyrics, and/or book to The Adams Conglomerate High School PresentsTales of the 8th Grade at New York Fringe Festival, Will and Bill at the Lakeshore Theatre and Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, A Christmas Carol at Provision Theater Company, Cinder Edna at Stages Theatre Company, and others. Mahler teamed up with Alan Schmuckler to write How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back?, a critically acclaimed original family musical that premiered at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in April of 2006. Mahlers songs have been sung in various songwriter showcases in both New York and Chicago, including the National Alliance for Musical Theatre New Works Summit and the MAC/ASCAP Songwriter Showcase.

Stef Tovar will star as Knute Rockne in Knute Rockne All-American. Tovar recently moved back to Chicago from Los Angeles, where he lived and worked for six years. His Los Angeles stage credits include Che in Evita, George in Sunday in the Park with George, for which he won a Los Angeles Ovation Nomination, and Jamie in the Los Angeles premiere of The Last Five Years. Tovar can be seen in the film Employee of the Month with Matt Dillon and Christina Applegate which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 as well as the recently released The Gymnast, by Ned Farr. In addition to Judging Amy, Tovar can be seen on television in numerous commercials, including Midwest Airlines, Travelocity and AT&T.

Tovar is originally from Chicago where he's been an American Theater Company ensemble member since 1996. He's also worked for Marriott Theatre, playing Michael Fitzsimmons in the world premiere of Peggy Sue Got Married--the musical; Northlight Theater in the world premiere Studs Terkel's The Good War; as well as The Briar Street Theatre and Apple Tree Theatre where he was seen in Blade to the Heat for which he won a Jeff Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play.

Joining Stef Tovar as Rockne in Knute Rockne All-American are Dennis Kelly as Father Walsh/Lars Rockne, Kate Fry as Bonnie, Star Busby as Thelma, Ron Rains as Jimmy the Goat, Geoff Rice as Dorais and Brandon Dahlquist as George Gipp. The male ensemble includes Larry Adams, Kevin Durnbaugh, Jackson Evans, Kent Haina, Phil Higgins, Tim Howard, Brandon Koller, Eric Lindahl, Adam Jeffrey Pasen, Matt Raftery and Jarrod Zimmerman. The female ensemble includes Anne Acker, Eleni Kanalos, Kelli Morgan and Caryn Ott. Children in this production include Liam Byrnes, Daniel Coonley and Darragh Quinn Dolan.

Joining Theatre at the Centers Jeff Award winning Artistic Director William Pullinsi for Knute Rockne All-American will be Musical Director by Valerie Maze. Set design is by Alan Schwanke, lighting design by Jesse Klug and costume design is by Nikki Delhomme. Production manager is Chuck Gessert, stage manager is Rita Vreeland and Technical Director is Ann Davis. Knute Rockne All-American is licensed through Libby Adler Mages, Tony DAngelo and Jack Girardi of Coaches, LLC.

Founded in 1991, Theatre at the Center is a year-round professional, equity theater, located at The Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana. Theatre at the Center is conveniently located off I-80/94, just 35 minutes from downtown Chicago.

The regular schedule is: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. ($36.00); Fridays at 8:00 p.m. ($40.00); Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. ($40.00); Sundays at 2:30 p.m. ($40.00) and select Thursdays at 7:30, Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6 pm ($36.00). To purchase tickets call the Box Office at 219.836.3255 or Tickets.com at 800.511.1552. Group discounts, available for groups of 20 or more; and gift certificates, perfect for all special occasions are also available by calling the Box Office at 219.836.3255. For more information on Theatre at the Center, visit www.TheatreAtTheCenter.org.

Event submitted by Eventful.com on behalf of ajaniszewski.

Added by ajaniszewski on March 13, 2008

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