REVIEW: Hey! Dancin! (Factory Theatre)

Retro play satirizes modern celebrity



Factory Theatre presents
Hey! Dancin’!
by Kirk Pynchon and Mike Beyer
directed by
Sarah Rose Graber
Prop Thtr, 3504 N. Elston (map)
through April 24th (more info)
reviewed by Keith Ecker 

In 1986, the same year that the Factory Theater’s new play Hey! Dancin’! takes place, I was 5 years old. But just because I was barely old enough to walk doesn’t mean I didn’t know how to dance. I fondly remember shaking it to Prince’s “Batdance” and jiving to the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance.” Yes, my memory is drenched with visions of DayGlo, high tops and sunglasses at night. The Chicago theatre scene seems to share the same penchant for the Reagan era, churning out no less than three 1980s-themed productions in the last month.

hey-dancin3 But whereas the other two plays—both stage versions of The Breakfast Club (here and here) —are adaptations of a popular movie, Hey! Dancin’! is wholly original. And although leading an audience into unknown territory comes with great risk, the entire cast and crew of Hey! Dancin’! executes the wonderfully written piece close to perfection. The end result is a stunningly entertaining play that evokes genuine laughs while offering insight into our modern perceptions of celebrity.

The play is about a fictitious popular cable access Chicago TV show called “Hey! Dancin’!” Think of it as a poor man’s American Bandstand but with much bigger hair and a much smaller audience. The protagonist, Halle (Melissa Nedell), and her sexually blossoming friend Trisha (Catherine Dughi), are obsessed with the show. The two teenagers squeal when their favorite cast members appear on screen, whom they know on a first-name basis.

“Hey! Dancin’!” is about to wrap up its TV season and the girls decide they desperately need to appear on air. Halle has an urge to meet teenage heartthrob Kenny Kapowski (Jacob A. Ware), who goes by the moniker K.K. Trisha has a much less innocent crush on the show’s older host Randy (Anthony Tournis), whose fashion sense is inspired by Miami Vice.

Meanwhile, the cable access network’s station manager Dennis Blackburn (Noah Simon) is getting phone calls from angry parents that the dance music on “Hey! Dancin’!” is upsettingly too “black.” Instead, he is being urged to play the top white hits of the day, Bon Jovi being the prime example. Randy is on the side of the kids and tries to put his foot down on changing the show’s format.

There is yet another plot line at work, one involving the aforementioned heartthrob K.K. and his on-air/off-air girlfriend Tanya Lacy (Aileen May). Tanya is a demanding diva who fancies herself as the star of “Hey! Dancin’!” She concocts a staged lover’s quarrel for the final show of the season, but her tyrannical attitude is a turnoff to K.K., who may just be looking elsewhere for love—or at least a little dry humping in the supply closet.

Hey! Dancin’! isn’t just a hair-brained ‘80s-inspired comedy. It’s also an effective satire on people’s perceptions of celebrity today. K.K. and his girlfriend Tanya see themselves as the center of the universe because they are on TV.—cable access—but TV nonetheless. Halle and Trisha give this notion weight since they are star-obsessed with these no-name nudniks. Yet as Halle gets to know the real K.K., who admittedly dreams of being famous without actually ever wanting to hone any real talent, the image of these backwoods celebrities begins to crumble.

hey-dancin2 hey-dancin3

Before seeing the play, I was afraid it would suffer from a few obvious pitfalls. First, the concept of a kid’s dance show where the music is “too black” closely parallels the plot of Hairspray. Fortunately, the writers, Kirk Pynchon and Mike Beyer, knew not to make this a central focus. Instead, the show’s possible demise hangs in the background, allowing the characters and their drama to take center stage.

In addition, a show set in 1986 could easily have been overburdened with cliché references. And although the play definitely capitalizes on ‘80s nostalgia, it refrains from being a staged version of VH1’s “I Love the ‘80s.”

The acting is brilliant. The comedic timing of most of the players is impeccable. I’ve seen countless improv, sketch and stand-up shows, and this rivals the best of them. Simon as the recovering alcoholic station manager is a scene-stealer with his Muppet-like voice and general awkwardness.

The show is an hour and 20 minutes long with no intermission, but you won’t be squirming in your seat thanks to Sarah Rose Graber’s directing. She makes sure the play moves along at a fast pace, only slowing down for scenes that demand extra attention, such as the aforementioned supply closet tryst.

Hate them or love them, the 80’s happened. And although that decade continues to be a pox on contemporary society (I’m looking at you MTV), the fact that we now have Hey! Dancin’! almost makes it all worth it.

Rating: ★★★½

Hey! Dancin’! continues through April 24th, performance on Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm ($20.00), and Sundays 7pm ($15.00). All performances at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave.

Cast List – Role


Anthony Tournis– Randy Massingill
Melissa Nedell-Halle Stanton
Catherine Dughi-Trisha Mashke
Jacob A. Ware-Kenny Kapowski
Aileen May-Tanya Lacy
Anderson Lawfer-Pete Rathbone
Dominique Johnson-Princess
Esteban Andres Cruz-Doug Hollander
Noah Simon-Dennis Blackburn
Sara Sevigny-Linda Blanchett
Jill Oliver-Kate
Casey Pilkenton-Allison
Laura Korn-Amanda
Frank R. Sjodin-Shane
Seth Remington-Nick/Security Guard

Crew List


Director: Sarah Rose Graber
Production Manager: Colin Milroy
Assistant Director: Timothy C. Amos
Stage Manager: Phil Claudnic
Assistant Stage Manager: Jermaine Edwards
Technical Director: Jim Moore
Set Designer: Angelina Martinez
Lighting Designer: Shannon Evans
Costume Designer: Rachel Sypniewski
Sound Designer: Chas Vrba
Props Mistress: Christine Jennings
Graphic Designer: Jason Moody

Choreographer- Kirk Pynchon

Cast Bios

Esteban Andres Cruz was born in Berwyn and raised in Cicero and is tickled pink to be, “rais[ing] the roof, and hav[ing] some fun” with the fine, freakaliscious and funkadelic folks of the Factory.  He is also thrilled to be performing again w his buds Noah Simon and BFF, Andy Lawfer—with whom he co-created the super cool and ultra-successful late night smash hit, The Game Show Show & Stuff!  In 1986 Esteban was watching Little Shop of Horrors on repeat, Suzanna Hoff and the Bangles set his Eternal Flame a flamin’, Janet Jackson videos were the first dance routines he’d ever learned and of TKO, he wanted to be Kelli, of course.  Seriously though, Debbie Gibson is god, but she doesn’t come into play until 1987.  You can see Esteban with less glitter this Spring, up at Writers’ Theatre’s production of Streetcar Named Desire, directed by David Cromer.  Esteban is the 2009 recipient of the Jeff Award (non-equity wing) for best actor (Actor in a Principal Role-Play) for his portrayal of Angel Cruz in Raven Theatre’s production of Jesus Hopped t he ‘A’ Train.  Estie wants to thank the entire cast and crew and The Factory, at large for making every day in this process a party like it’s 1999 and he would also like to thank you, the audience for coming to support live theatre.  Please do it again and often!      


Catherine Dughi* has been putting off writing her bio because the 80s, quite frankly, were rather awkward for her.  Dancing was indeed king, there’s no mistake about that.  But she couldn’t figure out the makeup.  Or the hair.  She kinda got the clothes, though wasn’t yet old enough to wear heels (and wasn’t allowed to go either Flashdance or punk).  Seriously, what, then, are you supposed to do with bright yellow Jams??  What, I ask?  I mean… she… asks…  Thank you so much, Sarah Rose, for trusting me with Trisha.  Thank you, Kirk and Beave, for writing this delicious lil’ morsel.  Much, much love to all my families and Nuggie.  Mitakuye Oyas’in.



Dominique Johnson is a senior at Northwestern University. Hailing from New York City, she longs to be Denzel Washington’s love interest in any production now that she’s old enough. She was in the off-off broadway play "Love Hurts" in Harlem, "The Winter Barrell" at Northwestern, and a recent Brown’s Chicken Commercial. She is also a spoken word artist, winning competitions such as the 1st Annual NY Knicks Poetry Slam, and competing in the McDonald’s Gospelfest, and the Urban Word Annual Poetry Slam. Goals: play Beneatha Younger in Raisin in the Sun on Broadway, tour with Tyler Perry, write Grammy winning songs, adopt at least one child from Haiti, walk like Beyonce, and marry Idris Elba. "I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself." – Maya Angelou.



Laura Korn is a dancin’ machine and is totally pumped to work with Factory Theater for the first time. Not only does she get to wear blue eye shadow in public but she gets to bring her sexy dance moves from the club to the stage.  She would like to thank her mom, dad, grandma and boyfriend for always believing in her.  You guys are FIERCE!!








Anderson Lawfer is pleased as punch to be doing another Factory show! He was last seen in Dead Wrong at the Factory as Clarence. Other company credits include Mary-Arrchie Theatre, Steep Theatre, the House, Baliwick, Open Eye, and he is a proud member of Strawdog Theatre, where he will be performing in the remount of Red Noses this summer.





Aileen May‘s informative years were not in the 80’s but in the 90’s. During the 80’s, Aileen she was mostly jumping on trampolines and wishing she had boobs and it was not until the 90’s she was introduced to the delights of adolescent angst. Now, in 2010, Aileen is proud to beckon forth her inner bitch and grace The Factory Theater’s stage with chunky eyeliner and attitude to spare. Other stage credits include work with Dream Theatre, The House Theatre, Hobo Junction, Theo Ubique, The Side Project, Democracy Burlesque, Redmooon Theater, and Oracle Theatre.  Aileen is also a trained dancer, although her favorite kind of dancing is not the trained kind but the alone in front of the mirror kind whilst listening to Madonna. Thanks to cast and crew for generally rawking. Kittens!


Melissa Nedell is totally stoked to be working with the Factory Theater for the first time! Recent credits include Trinculo in The Tempest & Julia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Lifeline Theatre), Feydeau Si Deau (Theatre Wit), The Seagull, Book of Days, Dancing at Lughnasa (Raven Theatre), The (W)hole Thing (Stage Left Theatre), as well as work with Chicago Dramatists, Collaboraction and Steppenwolf Theatres. Regional credits include Moon Over Buffalo, The Miss Firecracker Contest, One For The Pot (Brown County Playhouse, IN), The Miser, Featherless Angels (Connecticut Repertory Theatre)


Jill Oliver is thrilled to be in her first production with the Factory Theater. Jill recently graduated with high honors from Columbia College Chicago, where she received a BA in Theater. She also studied abroad at Dublin Institute of Technology’s Theatre Conservatory. Jill has most recently appeared in Boys’ Life as Karen with Hanger 9 Theatre Company. Jill would like to be referred to as an Artist not an actor… that’s why she’s in this show.





Casey Pilkenton is thrilled to make her Factory debut in Hey! Dancin’! A child of the 80’s & believer in daily dance breaks, she’s been preparing for this role since the age of three. In the past she has portrayed an Anime girl, a Ukrainian immigrant with a cockney accent, and several whores.  She also worked as part of the front of house, pre-show entertainment at Cirque du Soleil‘s Ka in Las Vegas. Casey is an artistic associate at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy theater and performs regularly with their house improv team, 96D. When she isn’t performing, Casey is writing short stories and sketch comedy. Now, as the love of her life, David Bowie, sang in 1986–"Dance magic dance."


This is Seth Remington’s first show with Factory and he would like to thank them for the opportunity. A big THANK YOU goes out to his friends, family and especially Maggie for their continued support. Later this year Seth has his eye on producing and directing “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” by Terrence McNally, so please show your support and keep an eye out for that.


Sara Sevigny is a proud ensemble member of this here theater company…the Factory Theater Company…where you are…right now.  Well, not exactly right now, since you’re probably reading this from the warmth and comfort of your own home, yes?  Are you in PJs?  Are they flannels?  I like a good pair of flannel pjs with a nice merlot.  Mmmm winter…leave soon kay?  SO…on another page within this website you can find out all about me if you so desire.  If you do not, I will find you.  In conclusion, this cast rules, Graber rules, Kirk and Beave frighten me a little…but, also rule *smiles weakly, then clears throat* the best husband in the universe who’s name is Jon rules, my family rules, and you…dear reader, you rule for supporting Factory for all these years *raises glass*  Cheers!  mex3”


Frank R Sjodin has been surviving as a professional non-equity actor since finishing college with a degree in theatre back in 2007. He has been day job free, except for a few months working the Harry Potter exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry, which was ALMOST like acting. He arrived in Chicago in late 2009 after finishing a summer stock contract, and has appeared onstage at Stage Left Theatre, Gorilla Tango and worked with the North Lakeside Players. He’s also played several characters at Navy Pier for Winter Wonderfest, Carnival of Curiosities, and other events. He’s even done some film work, as an extra or in low-budget productions. Frank also writes, cooks, and eats in his free time, speaks French, works on clown acts, and enjoys a good book. He’s glad to be a part of Hey! Dancin’! and would like to thank you, the audience


Noah Simon returns to The Factory stage after a hiatus of 63 years when he was in their production of Top Shelf, where he played Judge Toshiro Mifune with relish…pickle relish.  In the intervening years, Noah set off on a journey of the mind and spirit.  He hugged a Bhuddist, kissed a Mormon, slapped a Baptist, Hi-fived a Jew, and broke bread with a Branch Davidian. After all that, having come no closer to "The Truth" he returned to Chicago, promptly called Factory, asked to audition for this show, got cast, memorized his lines, and he stands before you now, a broken shell of a man.  He hopes you’re happy.


Anthony Tournis is a proud member of the Factory. He recently was seen in Death Of A Salesman with Raven Theatre. Previous Factory shows include Dead Wrong, Bustin Out Of The Hell, Siskel and Ebert Save Chicago, and Operation Infiltration…just to name a few. He hates talking about himself in the third person. Anthony owes it all to his lovely wife Stacie.






Jacob A. Ware makes his Factory Theater debut.  In Corporate America, Jacob A. is a big shot super low-level admin. Ask him about his proficiency in Excel. Most recent Chicago credits: The (edward) Hopper Project (WNEP Theater), 1512 W. Studebaker (Brain Surgeon Theatre), and Scooter Thomas (Team Venture). During his time spent in Chi-rock, Jacob has worked with ATC, the side project, 20% Theatre, and Project 891, just to name a few. Jacob A. thanks Sarah and the entire Hey D’ing production team for inviting him to participate in such a kickin’ experience. 




Director: Sarah Rose Graber*

Sarah Rose Graber graduated from Northwestern University‘s Theatre program and received her acting certificate from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. While this is her first time directing for the company, she has been an ensemble member with the Factory since 2007. As a director and teaching artist, past directing projects include: IMAGO (CIRA grant and Program in the Study of the Imagination grant recipient), The American Dream (Sit & Spin Productions), and numerous shows for Northlight’s Theatre Academy and Adventure Stage Chicago’s theatre programs and camps. Factory acting credits include: Hunky Dory (Char), Mop Top Festival (Mel), Ren Faire: A Fistful of Ducats (Emma), Siskel and Ebert Save Chicago (Betty Larceny), and GIs in Europe (Theresa). Recent Chicago credits include: The Book of Liz by Amy and David Sedaris (Liz), The Miser at Northlight (u/s Elise/Mariane), Dinner for Six at Metropolis (Bethany), and The Blue House at Adventure Stage Chicago with the Chicago Humanities Festival (Betnorakate).

Writer/Choreographer- Kirk Pynchon

Kirk graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in theater and dance. In Chicago he was an ensemble member of the Factory Theater and performed in such classics as Bitches, Alive, White Trash Wedding and a Funeral and Being At Choice. He is the author of Poppin’ and Lockdown, Parts 1 and 2 (BackStage West Garland Award for Best Choreography), Man Card (Selected to the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival) and his one man show, Kirk du Soleil. He is also one of the co-creators of the award winning cult film, Stunt C*cks which has played film festivals around the world. In Los Angeles he has worked with The Furious Theater Company and The Actors’ Gang. He currently writes a food blog entitled, "I Wish I Liked Flan".

Writer- Mike Beyer*

Mike Beyer is a playwright and actor based in Chicago. An ensemble member of the Factory Theater, Mike has written or co-written six plays, most notably Herb Stabler: Wandering Spirit, which received a Jeff nomination for Best New Work; Dirty Diamonds, which the Chicago Tribune named one of its top off-Loop productions for 2007; and White Trash Wedding And A Funeral, which was one of the most successful late-night productions in the city during the 90s. As an actor, he appeared in some of the Factory’s most successful and best-known plays, including Bitches, Alive, Being At Choice, and Toast of the Town. Mike is a graduate of Northwestern University, and is married with two young children.

Production Manager: Colin Milroy*

Originally from New Mexico, Colin has lived in Chicago for 15 years doing theater in any capacity he can.  Like Courtney Cox connecting with Bruce for Dancing In The Dark, Colin giddily joined the Factory Ensemble in 2007. Colin is very proud to be part of this mondo rad production.  He is grateful to the amazing, supra-talented cast and crew for their hard work.  Colin is glad to have a great production partner in Sarah Rose Graber and thankful for the support of Scott Oken, Carrie Sullivan, and Allison Cain.  Love to Kori, George, and Frances.

Assistant Director: Timothy C. Amos*

Timothy C Amos is so happy to continue his artistic life with the Factory as the A.D. for a great opening to the season. It’s wonderful to sit outside the 4th wall and watch this talented cast we’ve assembled bring this show to life. Thanks to Sarah for bringing me on board and being such a wonderful teacher and director. We’re just getting started people! Get ready for the Factory to rock your world all year long! Thanks to my family for their understanding of my artistic endeavors and you the audience member for keeping the store fronts going. Oh, I smacked Billy Elliot for you. You’re welcome.

Stage Manager: Phil Claudnic

Phil Claudnic is making his professional debut with Hey! Dancin’!  He is grateful to the Factory for being totally super-cool.  Phil graduated this past May from Northern Illinois University with a B.A. in Theatre Studies.  In the fall, he worked at the Goodman Theatre on the production of Animal Crackers as a stage management intern.  By day, he empowers people to be heroes and save countless animals by canvassing with Grassroots Campaigns for the ASPCA.  But where would I be without my mother?  Nowhere!  Thank you mom for everything!

Assistant Stage Manager: Jermaine Edwards

Jermaine Edward Thomas- is thrilled to be here with the Factory Theater once again and is honored to be working such a talented cast and crew on this show. He wants you all to enjoy the show and be ready for the zombie apocalypse. It could happen. 

Technical Director: Jim Moore

Jim Moore likes to build things. He likes The Factory and is happy to build for them. He likes that you are supporting live theater. He is a member of The Hypocrites and works with 500 Clowns a lot too. He thinks CCJ is totally radical.

Set Designer: Angelina Martinez*

Angelina is a proud ensemble member of Factory and thinks doing the set for Hey! Dancin’! is totally rad. Since joining Factory, she’s designed the sets for 1985 and Bustin’ Out of the Hell. Other Factory credits include Mop Top Festival (Colleeen), Shameless Shamuses (Mrs. Hoehzollern), Ceres (director) and Dead Wrong (assistant director). She has performed, written, directed and designed for various theaters in the Chicago area over the years and is happy to have found a home with Factory. Viva la raza! Love to Roachy.

Lighting Designer: Shannon Evans

Shannon Evans (lighting designer), hailing from beautiful Minnesota, works throughout Chicago as a designer, director, producer, painter, actor, and educator. She is a company member of TUTA Theatre Chicago and Associate Producer at Prop Thtr. Thanks to Sarah and all the Factory folks for everything.

Costume Designer: Rachel Sypniewski

Rachel M. Sypniewski is excited as always to be working with the Factory crew.  Previously designing, "1985", "Dead Wrong" and, "Shameless Shamuses" to name a few. Ms. Sypniewski has designed well over 60 shows in the Chicago storefront theatre community, some of her favorites include, "Grapes of Wrath" and "Kentucky Cycle" with Infamous Commonwealth Theatre, "Siskel and Ebert Save Chicago" and "RenFaire: A Fist Full of Ducats" with the Factory, "Solid Gold Cadallac" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" with Open Eye, "The Man Who Was Thursday" and "The Long Count" with New Leaf Theatre, and "West Side Story" and "Man of La Mancha" with St. Patrick’s High School. She is a company member of Infamous Commonwealth, an artistic associate with New Leaf Theatre, and a stage manager for Quade Productions. Her upcoming designs include, "The Crucible" (March 2010) with Infamous Commonwealth at the Raven Theatre, "The Starving Class" (Aprin 2010) with New Leaf Theatre and "Ten Unknowns" (May 2010) with Will Act For Food. Much love to Robb, Tiny, Lucky and Squirt.

Sound Designer: Chas Vrba*

Chas Vrba has designed sound for a number of Factory shows, Hey! Dancin’! is the most recent. He works around town as an actor, sound designer, playwright and DJ. Catch him when you can. 

Props Mistress: Christine Jennings*

Christine Jennings- Italian Irish brunette seeking lazy afternoons. Been playing with the Factory since 1996. Loves a boy named Jim.


4 Responses

  1. Just saw the show on Friday and loved it! So creative with a bunch of great laughs.

  2. […] sure liked it. In fact, he wrote a review about it for the Chicago Theater Blog. Go ahead and read it. Then go see “Hey! […]

  3. […] Hey! Dancin’!  Factory Theater (March 2010) by Kirk Pynchon and Mike Beyer directed by Sarah Rose Graber our review  […]

Leave a Reply to fondutv Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: