Profile: Caroline Heffernan of Wonders Never Cease

We got a chance to chat with the youngest star of Provision Theater’s newest and final play of the 2010-2011 season, Wonder Never Cease. The show opens tonight and 11 year old Caroline Heffernan is thrilled to be making her Provision Theater debut!

Though this is her first Provision show, Caroline has a resume longer than some seasoned performers. She’s already appeared in multiple national commercials and has been on stage at The Goodman, Infusion Theatre Company, Collaboraction Sketchbook and most recently as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird at Steppenwolf Theatre.

PTC Blog: What was your first performance experience and how long have you been an actress?
I started acting at age 5 in a television commercial for a bank and my first play was “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theatre when I was 8.

PTC Blog: How is it different working on an original show vs. a show that has been done before?
It’s a new experience. In ways, it’s more interesting because you don’t have anyone else who has played the part before you that other people might compare you to. You can put yourself into your character and create her.

PTC Blog: What are the similarities between you and your character, Leah? What are the differences?
We are both alike in the sense that we are near the same age at the same point in history and we both are very creative and like to explore the world and our imaginations. We are different because I don’t see angels, my parents are not divorced and I have a great father. I also have siblings and a loving family and I go to a public school. The last difference is that I live in Chicago and she lives in LA.

PTC Blog: How do you prepare for your roles?
I read the entire script first and memorize my lines. Then, I decide who I think this character would be like physically and emotionally. Next, I go over my lines again the way my character would. I try to become that person as best as I can when I am on stage and with other actors.

PTC Blog: What is it like working with adults everyday?
It’s fun and hard at the same time. I like it when the adults tell jokes and play cards and games with me. I also like adults that figure out who I am as a person and become closer to me. It is hard sometimes when they don’t realize I’m a child and they say and do things they shouldn’t around me. It is also hard if they treat me like I’m too much of a baby.

Starting tonight, you can see Caroline and the rest of the talented cast of Wonders Never Cease every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Provision Theater Company, 1001 Roosevelt Road, Chicago.

For tickets, visit http://www.provisiontheater.org or call 866-811-4111.

And tune into the Provision Theater blog early next week to see photos and updates from opening night!

A New Play With New Faces

You may already know that Provision Theater’s newest project is an original work. You may also already know that the script is penned by Artistic Director Tim Gregory and is based on a popular novel by writer Tim Downs. But what you may not know is that many of the faces you will see on the Provision stage are appearing there for the first time. This cast is crawling with newcomers, both to Provision and to professional theatre arts. Frederick Williams plays Emmet and though he’s done numerous films and voice over work, this is his first experience performing in live theatre. “It’s my premiere!” he says with a big smile, “This is a new kind of acting that I’m learning!”

The cast has been rehearsing for over a month, but this isn’t your average rehearsal process. Since the writer is also the director, the cast has gotten a rare opportunity to provide input on their characters. Holly Bittinger, also new to Provision Theater, plays Liv Hayden, the play’s famous actress who might be a little past her prime by Hollywood standards. “Tim wrote the script but he allowed us all as actors to have input.” she said, “During the rehearsal process, if something didn’t ring true we’d figure out something that worked better.” Holly also used the original novel that the play is based on in her preparation for the role. “There was information in the book about my character that wasn’t included in the dialogue and it helped to inform my choices. It’s definitely a very useful tool.” Anna Dynarski, who is making her professional theatre debut as Annie, agrees, “Tim (Gregory) is very open to your ideas and how you think your character would say something… you have more liberty with this kind of script.”

Jobe Cerny, who plays Hollywood agent Morty Biederman, and Mike Wollner who plays Wes, are also new to Provision Theater, although you’ll probably still recognize them. Both have extensive national commercial resumes and as well as appearing in quite a few films. Jobe observes that Chicago is “a very healthy theatre city, with a lot of organizations that foster new works. It’s interesting to help create a new script that will go on to have a life after words and I think it’s an important thing for actors to do.” Mike Wollner agrees and details how he was able to use his improvisational and on camera training during the process. “We’ve been able to work on and tighten the script through improve techniques and that’s kind of how it works on a film set. That whole process is a big workshop.” What sets this show apart from the actor’s standpoint is the fact that they have had the chance to be the first to develop their characters, working directly with one of the people who helped create them. And it’s a rare opportunity for the performers to be able to participate in the development of a new work. As Mike summed it up for us, “The classics are great, but you don’t get to workshop Shakespeare.”

Next on the Provision Theater blog…an interview with the youngest star of Wonders Never Cease, Caroline Heffernan!

Coming Soon to Provision Theater; Wonders Never Cease!

Welcome to Los Angeles, the city of angels, where traffic never stops, people never sleep, and wonders never cease. When a car accident leaves a famous movie star in a coma, nurse Kemp McAvoy devises a plan to make his fortune. Manipulating her medication, he pretends to be an angel, then dictates a “spiritual bestseller” he believes will make them both rich.  But while Kemp is implementing his scheme, his girlfriend’s daughter, Leah, is claiming to actually see the celestial beings. This humorous and powerful production is filled with mystery and manipulation as the characters must figure out what is delusional and what is undeniable.  Join Provision Theater as they present the world premiere theatrical adaptation of award winning author Tim Downs’ story of unexpected redemption.

Caroline Heffernan makes her Provision Theater debut as “Leah.”

Wonders Never Cease is adapted and directed by Tim Gregory, Artistic Director of Provision Theater.

The cast includes;

Katie Banks (Natalie)
Ryan Kitley (Kemp McAvoy)
Jobe Cerny (Morty Biedermen)
Holly Bittinger (Liv Hayden / Ensemble)
Sean Bolger (Tino Gambati / Ensemble)
Mike Wollner (Wes Kalamar / Ensemble)
Caroline Heffernan (Leah)
Matt Klingler (Matt Calahan / Ensemble)
Mike Rogalski (Armantrout / Ensemble)
Anna Dynarski (Annie / Ensemble)
Frederick Williams (Emmet / Ensemble)
Danielle White (Shanice Rodriguez)

The production team includes;

Matthew McMullen (Stage Manager)
Jordan Danz (Production Manager
John Gedeon (Technical Director)
Jim Poole (Video/Projections Director)
Inseung Park (Set Designer)
Isaac B. Turner (Costume Designer)
Gary Echelmeyer (Lighting Designer)
Joe Dybdal (Assistant Technical Director and Props Designer)
Devin Carroll (Assistant Lighting Designer and Master Electrician)
Liz Meenan (Assistant Costume Designer)
Ashley Woods (Scenic Artist)
Rebecca Cagney (Assistant Stage Manger)

WONDERS NEVER CEASE runs April 30- June 5 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. ($28) and Sundays at 3 p.m. ($25).  Ticket prices include free parking.

Remember, groups of 10 or more receive 10% off!

For reservations, phone 866.811.4111. You may also visit http://www.provisiontheater.org.


And stay tuned to the Provision Theater Blog for insider info, cast and crew interviews and more news about Wonders Never Cease!