Philip Lynch Theatre

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Lewis University’s Philip Lynch Theatre presents “The Boys Next Door” for People with Intellectual Disabilities

The Boys Next Door
Pictured: The Philip Lynch Theatre production “The Boys Next Door” special complimentary matinee performance. 

Tom Griffin’s 1983 play “The Boys Next Door” is about four intellectually disabled men in a group home and their social worker.  The Philip Lynch Theatre (PLT) is staging the heartwarming comedy with a cast of talented Lewis University students directed by Theatre Department Chairperson, Keith White of Joliet.

PLT production director, Keith White ‘77 partnered with Lewis alumnae, Lewis Sandra Bednarz Petersen ’12 of Woodridge, who works at Trinity Services, Inc. for a unique experience for the cast members of “The Boys Next Door.”  Sandy is working on her dissertation in compassion fatigue for caring social workers.  She arranged meetings for students to visit Trinity Services and meet with her clients.  The PLT traditionally hosts a Wednesday morning matinee for area high school students between weekends of our public performance.  A special complimentary Wednesday morning matinee at 10 a.m. on October 4 was offered to the clients of Trinity Services and other area organizations.

One hundred and twenty patrons attending the special matinee performance yesterday.  Other area organizations included Cornerstone Services, the Center for Disability Services, the Joliet Disability Resource Center, and the Northern Will County Special Recreation Center.  At intermission, one patron exclaimed, “it’s sizzlingly funny.”  The cast and crew met the patrons in the lobby following the performance.  At 2 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, Mrs. Petersen conducted a presentation on the history and current status of “Group Homes for People with Diabilities.”  Mrs. Petersen, who received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Social Work from Lewis University, helped immensely with our students’ preparation for the production.

The playwright has created characters who maintain their dignity and humanity in their neighborhood and world in which they exist. No matter how inhumane the outside world is for these residents, it is the world in which they live, and they must learn to cope with it to the best of their abilities. For example:

  1. When the neighborhood grocer tricks Arnold (Robert Rigler of Lemont) into buying nine boxes of Wheaties and Arnold has to find the courage to return them and get a refund.
  2. When the chatty Norman (Theodore J. Veremis-Dernekzis of Elk Grove) has to learn to stop eating the leftover doughnuts that his co-workers from the doughnut shop are always giving him. Norman also has a crush on Sheila (Ashley Stajura of Lockport), a resident of another group home.
  3. When Barry, (Andrew Wainscott of Mokena) full of positive conviction and a self-proclaimed golf pro, struggles to come to grips with the fear of his abusive father.
  4. When Lucian (Bradford Bingham of Chicago), who has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old, struggles with the confusion common to all 5-year-olds.

Their offbeat solutions to their day-to-day problems are supervised by the increasingly burned-out social worker Jack (Zackary Abu-Shanab of Plainfield).  Jack states: “ You see, the problem is that they never change.  I change, my life changes, my crises change.  But they stay the same.”  Completing the cast of “The Boys Next Door” are Christy Carlson of Lockport, Chris Pupik of Naperville and Conrad Sipiora of Chicago.

The Boys Next Door
Pictured: Some of the cast & crew of “The Boys Next Door” following the 2 p.m. presentation: (left to right) Kayla Carson (costume designer), Zackary Abu-Shanab (actor, Jack Palmer) , Sandy Bendarz Petersen ’12, Keith White ’77 (production director), Zue Balquin (light board operator), Chris Pupik (actor, Mr. Klemper) and Sean Gallagher (production stage manager).

Lewis University's The Boys Next Door by Tom Griffin Production Photos.

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The Boys Next Door at Lewis University

In Loving Memory of Chet Kondratowicz