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Based on the play Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean by Ed Graczyk
Book by Ashley Robinson
Lyrics by Shakina Nayfack
Music by Dan Gillespie Sells
Directed by Amanda Dehnert
Music Direction by Shraman Ghosh

Developmental Reading: October 3 – 16, 2022
Public Presentations:
Saturday, October 15 at 7:30pm
Sunday, October 16 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Mussetter-Struble Theater, 1949 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208

In an old 5&Dime store in a dried-up West Texas town, the “Disciples of James Dean” gather for their twentieth reunion. In 1955 when they were just teenagers, the Hollywood masterpiece GIANT, starring James Dean, was filmed in the neighboring town of Marfa. Small town local Mona was cast as an extra in the movie, but shortly after his death, Mona has a child who she claims was conceived with Dean during the shoot. As the ladies reminisce about their youth, the arrival of a stunning-but-familiar stranger exposes bitter disappointments, delusions, and long-suppressed truths, unearthing bonds the disciples didn’t know they had.


Dan Gillespie Sells’ (Music) debut award winning musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie opened at The West End’s Apollo Theatre in Nov 2018 and continues to run to this day. The film version of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie was released in the fall of 2021 by Disney/20th Century/Amazon. He is best known for being the lead vocalist and principal songwriter in The Feeling. Their debut album, TWELVE STOPS AND HOME sold over a million copies, whilst their second album, JOIN WITH US reached the No. 1 spot in the UK Charts. The band’s 6th album was released in 2022. He has written songs for a variety of projects ranging from TV (Theme to ‘Beautiful People’/BBC) to Ballet (3 with D/Colosseum London/Stuttgart Ballet/Joyce Theatre NYC). Dan was the recipient of the 2015 Stonewall award for Entertainer of the Decade for his work in the LGBT community and the 2007 Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year. Other awards include Best Composer at The Stage Debut Awards in 2017, plus many nominations including Oliver and BRIT.

Shakina Nayfack (Lyrics) made Television history on NBC’s Connecting… as the first transgender person to play a series regular on a network sitcom, and she is currently a staff writer on the reboot of NBC’s Quantum Leap. Shakina can also be seen in Amazon’s GLAAD Award Winning “Transparent Musicale Finale”, which she helped write and produce, and Hulu’s Difficult People, for which she was a writing consultant. Her play Chonburi International Hotel and Butterfly Club premiered on Audible in 2020 in collaboration with Williamstown Theatre Festival and was recognized with a 2021 Drama League Award for Best Audio Theatre Production. She is the Founding Artistic Director of Musical Theatre Factory, where she helped to develop hundreds of new musicals including Michael R. Jackson’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning A Strange Loop and her own autobiographical glam rock odyssey, Manifest Pussy. Recognitions include The Lilly Award for Working Miracles, Theatre Resources Unlimited Humanitarian Award, The Kilroys List, Logo 30, and two-time Drama League fellow and two-time OUT 100 honoree.

Ashley Robinson (Book) penned the play adaptation of Annie Proulx’s BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Ashley has collaborated on several projects with two-time Tony nominee composer Jason Carr, including their original Southern Gothic musical LOCKHART, which just received an industry reading in London. He is also collaborating with Joseph Thalken (HAROLD AND MAUDE) and Tony nominee Ellen Fitzhugh (GRIND, MYTHS AND HYMNS) on an original musical, FALL OF ’94, which is being developed at Alabama Shakespeare Festival. As an actor: Floyd Collins (Floyd—Wiltons Music Hall, London), A Clockwork Orange (New World Stages), Casa Valentina (Gloria—Original London Cast), Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory (Capote – New York Premiere/ 2015 Outer Critics Award Nom), Merrily We Roll Along (Menier Chocolate Factory and West End), The Last Goodbye (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Wicked. Originated the role of Jett Rink in the World Premiere of the musical Giant (Helen Hayes Award nomination, Best Actor). Training: University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Ashley is a UCross Foundation 2019 writing resident.


Amanda Dehnert (Director) currently serves as a tenured Associate Professor in the theatre department at Northwestern University. Prior to that, she was a Clinical Professor for the Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA program. Ms. Dehnert held various positions with the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI, culminating with her serving as the Acting Artistic Director for the 2005-2006 season, during which she directed, adapted, composed, and music directed multiple productions. Notable productions include: West Side Story (Carnegie Hall / Knockdown Center), Kate Hamill’s Pride and Prejudice (world premiere, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Rep, Primary Stages), Love’s Labor’s Lost (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), The Steadfast Tin Soldier (world premiere, Lookingglass Theatre Co.), Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville (world premiere, Arena Stage/McCarter Theatre), Into The Woods (Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Wallis-Annenberg Arts Ctr.), My Fair Lady (Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2013, Virginia Stage Company 2008, Actors Theatre of Louisville/Cleveland Playhouse 2006, Trinity Repertory Co. 2000), Eastland (a new musical) (world premiere, Lookingglass Theatre Company) Richard III (Public Theatre Mobile Shakespeare Unit) Julius Caesar (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), The Verona Project (world premiere, California Shakespeare Theatre), Peter Pan (A Play) (Lookingglass Theatre Company), Death of a Salesman (Dallas Theatre Center), The Fantasticks (South Coast Repertory, Long Wharf Theatre, and Arena Stage Company), Cloudlands (world premiere, South Coast Repertory), All’s Well That Ends Well (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Cabaret (Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Canada), Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), and a staged concert version of The Two Gentlemen of Verona – The Rock Opera (Shakespeare Theatre, D.C.) Upcoming projects include the world premiere of Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon by Matthew C. Yee (Lookingglass Theatre Co.), and Diamond Alice by Alexander Gemignani and Ben Steinfeld with Fiasco Theatre Co. She is also working on a new musical adaptation of The Comedy of Errors, called Mistakes Were Made.

Shraman Ghosh (Music Director) is a MD, Pianist, and Actor based in Chicago. He recently wrapped up a successful stint as Music Director for the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s “Shakespeare in the Park” summer series. He will also join directors Amanda Dehnert and Mary Zimmerman for the Lookingglass production of The Steadfast Tin Soldier in November, serving as Piano/Conductor. A recent Northwestern graduate, Shraman has racked up a number of credits at Northwestern for his musical direction and keyboard skills, including the annual Waa-Mu Show and the American Music Theatre Project, whom he’s very excited to work with again for their reading of 5&Dime!

Kat Zukaitis (Dramaturg) is a dramaturg, arts administrator, and arts advocate based in Chicago. Recent dramaturgy credits include: cullud wattah by Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Queen of the Night by travis tate, and the world premieres of In Every Generation by Ali Viterbi, How to Defend Yourself by Liliana Padilla, The First Deep Breath by Lee Edward Colston II, and Dhaba on Devon Avenue by Madhuri Shekar (Victory Gardens Theater); Nightwatch by Max Yu (Goodman’s New Stages); American Mariachi by José Cruz González and Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler (South Coast Repertory); and work with Steppenwolf Theater Company and The New Coordinates. She has worked as the New Play Development Manager at Victory Gardens and the Literary Associate/Pacific Playwrights Festival Associate at South Coast Repertory. She holds a B.A. from Haverford College and an M.A. from Yale Divinity School.


Kate McCracken as JUANITA
Mia Chase Van De Mark as MONA
Lucy Lewis as SISSY
Evelyn Mulchrone as STELLA MAE
*Gabrielle Garza as EDNA LOUISE
*Sawyer Smith as JOANNE
August Forman as JOE / JIMMY DEAN 

*Deya Friedman, STAGE MANAGER

*Appears through the courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.