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Handbag Productions Presents The Rip Nelson Holiday Spectacular
From a press release
2016-11-24

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CHICAGO ( November 23, 2016 ) — Hell in a Handbag's favorite bitter television has-been returns — and just in time for the holidays! David Cerda's world premiere comedy The Rip Nelson Holiday Spectacular directed by Steve Love, plays November 20 — December 30, 2016 at Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St. in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood. Tickets are currently available at www.handbagproductions.org or by calling ( 800 ) 838-3006. The press opening is Saturday, November 26 at 7:30 pm.

Handbag ensemble member Ed Jones* stars as Rip Nelson, a fellow with a razor-sharp wit and a monkey and his back. Rip is a mash-up of iconic television celebrities Paul Lynde, Rip Taylor and Charles Nelson Reilly. Joining Rip on this bizarre holiday romp is his trusted make-up woman, Gladys ( Lori Lee* ) and a cavalcade of stars circa 1982, including: Dom Deluise ( Tommy Bullington ), Bruce Jenner ( Chazie Bly* ), magician Doug Henning ( David Lipschutz* ), Liza Minnelli ( Alexa Castevecchi ), Patti LaBelle ( Robert Williams ) and Rip's arch rival, Kermit the Frog ( Scott Ray Merchant ). To make matters even more complicated, Rip's musical guests, The Lennon Sisters, ( Kristopher Bottrall*, Anna Seibert and AJ Wright* ), and are engaged in a bitter war with their musical nemeses, The King Cousins ( Grant Drager*, Rachel Hadlock* and Terry McCarthy* ).

Audiences fell in love with Rip Nelson in Handbag's 2010 hit The Rip Nelson Halloween Spooktacular — now he's back and ready to deck your halls in The Rip Nelson Holiday Spectacular. It's 1982 and a newly sober Rip manages to land another TV special after the death of his archrival, Paul Lynde. Rip is determined to get his career back on track but can he handle the stress of a network television special and stay sober? Luckily he's got help from a cavalcade of the hottest stars of 1982! Rip pulls every trick in the book to breathe some life in the dying variety series format and save his career but soon questions if his career is worth saving.

"HAM FOR HAMS" Holiday Collection:

Hell in Handbag continues its holiday tradition of helping to feed the Chicago Northside community through it's annual "HAMS FOR HAMS" initiative. Cast and company members will be collecting donations following every performance to ensure every Groceryland client has a ham, turkey or vegan loaf on their holiday table. So bring your piggybanks and celebrate the spirit of giving!

The production team for The Rip Nelson Holiday Spectacular includes: Brad Caleb Lee ( scenic design ), Kate Setzer Kamphausen ( costume design ), Cat Wilson* ( lighting design ), Matt Reich ( sound design ), JD Caudill ( music director ), Mealah Heidenreich* ( props design ), Keith Ryan* ( wig design ) and Bailey Howard ( stage manager ).

*Denotes Hell in a Handbag ensemble members

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

Title: The Rip Nelson Holiday Spectacular

Playwright: Artistic Director David Cerda

Director: Steve Love

Cast: Ed Jones* ( Rip Nelson ) with Chazie Bly* ( Bruce Jenner ), Kristopher Bottrall ( Janet Lennon ), Tommy Bullington ( Dom Deluise ), Alexa Castelvecchi ( Liza Minnelli ), Grant Drager* ( Carolyn King ), Rachel Hadlock* ( Tina Cole ), Lori Lee* ( Gladys ), David Lipschutz* ( Doug Henning ), Terry McCarthy* ( Candy King ), Scott Ray Merchant ( Kermit the Frog ), Anna Seibert ( Kathy Lennon ), Robert Williams ( Patti LaBelle ) and AJ Wright ( Peggy Lennon ).

Location: Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Sunday, November 20 at 6:30 pm and Friday, November 25 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Sunday, November 27 — Friday, December 30, 2016

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 6:30 pm. Please note: there will not be performances on Sunday, December 4, Saturday, December 24 ( Christmas Eve ) and Sunday, December 25 ( Christmas Day ); there will be an added performance on Wednesday, December 21 at 7:30 pm.

Tickets: Previews $16. Regular run $28 - $30. VIP tickets $42 and up. Group rates 10+ $21. Tickets are currently available at www.handbagproductions.org or by calling ( 800 ) 838-3006.

About The Creative Team

David Cerda ( Playwright ) is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Hell in a Handbag Productions. He has written and appeared in POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical, The Birds, Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer, SCARRIE The Musical, Caged Dames, Lady X, How Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Happened, TROGG! A Rock and Roll Musical, Christmas Dearest, Scream, Queen! SCREAM!, The Rip Nelson Halloween Spooktacular and Sexy Baby. His plays have been produced around the country. He has also worked as a songwriter/lyricist with Amazon Films on an animated project and as an actor with various theater companies throughout the city of Chicago. This year Cerda has also been named as an inductee into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for his contributions to Chicago theatre.

Steve Love ( Director ) is a Handbag ensemble member, and a two-time Jeff Award nominee ( Best Supporting Actor, Best Choreography ). Recent creative credits include last year's production of Christmas Dearest ( Director/Choreographer, HIAH ), and Northlight Theatre's production of Charm ( Choreographer ). Recent performing credits include Miracle! ( Helen ) with HIAH; Kin Folk ( Arethin ) and Stanley in the Name of Love ( Stanley ) with The New Colony. Steve has worked on stages on the East Coast, the Midwest and throughout the Caribbean aboard Disney Cruise Lines.

About Hell in a Handbag Productions

Founded in 2002, Hell in a Handbag Productions is Chicago's only theater dedicated to camp and the preservation, exploration, and celebration of works ingrained in the realm of popular culture via theatrical productions through parody, music and homage. Handbag is a 501( c )( 3 ) Not for Profit Corporation.

For additional information, visit www.handbagproductions.org .


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