History Comes Alive in “Ten Dollar House”


Pride Films & Plays is excited to announce casting for the Chicago premiere of Ten Dollar House by Rick Kinnebrew and Martha Meyer which will be directed by Michael D. Graham, and running at Piccolo Theatre in Evanston from January 7 to 31.

In this true story of love and historic preservation set in Depression-era Wisconsin, a London-based decorator and a local drifter fall in love as they restore a dilapidated rock cottage. With a “gay marriage” that hides in plain sight, Bob Neal and Edgar Hellum create Pendarvis house, an improbable business venture that transforms an entire town.

Ten Dollar House premiered this year at Broom Street Theatre in Madison, and was a finalist for 2015 New Works Festival at St. Paul’s History Theater.

Evanston writers Rick Kinnebrew and Martha Meyer developed Ten Dollar House with PFP through staged readings in Wisconsin, Chicago and Evanston.

The cast features Scott Patrick Sawa (Bob Neal), Joe Anderson (Edgar Hellum), Tom Chiola* (William Gundry), Jean Marie Koon (Marjorie King), Mindy Barber (Betty Cass), and Nathan Elder (Understudy).  Michael D. Graham directs, and designs are by Joshua D. Allard (costumes), Sarah Lewis (set), by Kallie Rolison* (Sound), and Aimee Warshal (lights).

Ten Dollar House, by Rick Kinnebrew and Martha Meyer, has previews on Thursday and Friday, January 7 and 8 at 8 pm ($15). Regular performances are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm through January 31. Tickets are $22 Thursdays, and $27 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Discounts are available for students and seniors. Tickets may be ordered here or by calling 1 800 737 0984.

Make a donation to support Ten Dollar House here.

*Denotes PFP Company Member

In their work as librarians, Rick Kinnebrew and Martha Meyer regularly wrote and performed plays at schools, reaching thousands of children. Their play Ten Dollar House premiered at Broom Street Theater in Madison earlier this year. Rick studied playwriting at Chicago Dramatists and Victory Gardens Theatre, which sponsored a staged reading of his play Rise. 

Cast Ten Dollar House
(Clockwise from top left) Joe Anderson, Mindy Barber, Tom Chiola, Nathan Elder, Jean Marie Koon, Scott Patrick Sawa

Director Michael D. Graham was recently named Artistic Director of Piccolo Theatre in Evanston. His work as a director has been seen at Piccolo Theatre, Dead Writers Theatre Collective, Halcyon Theatre, Hubris Productions, Citadel Theatre, The Side Project, Act One Studios, and Pride Films and Plays among others.  He is an active member of Dead Writers Theatre Collective and a former artistic associate at Halcyon Theatre.  He has served on the review committee for Pride Films and Plays contests for new screenplays, plays, and short films.

Scott Patrick Sawa is an Actor, Writer, Associate Artistic Director of Nothing Special Productions, Proud Uncle, Cat Owner, and Homo-Polish Nerd.  Recent credits include: Nightmare in Paradise 4 (NSP); Hey! Dancin! Hey! Musical! (The Factory); Rough Crossing (First Folio); The Cherry Orchard (Piccolo Theatre); Poseidon! (Hell in a Handbag).

Joseph Anderson is an actor and musician from Omaha, Nebraska who recently moved to pursue his acting career in Chicago. When not on stage or in film, he can be found playing his guitar and singing or out for a windy run along the lakefront.

Tom Chiola started his second career as an actor in Bailiwick Chicago’s F*ing Men. You may have seen him in Pride Films and Plays’ Some Men, Eclectic Theatre’s Take Me Out, Theo Ubique’s A Very Merry Madrigal, BoHo’s Icarus, Glitterati’s The Glass Protégé, or the concert version of PFP’s Under A Rainbow Flag. Tom has also worked with Remy Bumppo on Seascape and Steep Theatre on The Knowledge. Tom has been an LGBT community activist, lawyer, and Circuit Court Judge, and he is a proud member of the PFP Acting Ensemble.

Jean Marie Koon recently returned to the stage with Polarity Ensemble Theatre’s production of Anna in the Afterlife. In the long distant past, she appeared in productions by Lifeline, Red Key, Single Action, and as part of Estrogen Fest. She has a BA in acting from the University of California at Davis and an MA from the University of Connecticut at Storrs.

Mindy Barber is excited be working with Pride Films and Plays. A graduate of Illinois State University, her Chicago theatre credits include the Dead Writer’s Theatre Collective, Fury Theatre, and Nothing Special Productions.

Nathan Elder previously appeared in the Stone Hearth Staged Reading Series at Irish American Heritage Center and numerous productions of Shakespeare at A Noise Within Theatre in his hometown of Los Angeles.  He is a graduate of Black Box Acting Studio and LAMDA.

This project is partially supported by a grant from the Evanston Arts Council, a city agency supported by the City of Evanston, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.