Executive and Artistic Director Keith Gerth and Associate Artistic Director Stephen Smith of the
Oil Lamp Theater in Glenview announce their next production, Mass Appeal by Bill C. Davis This production is directed by Keith Gerth and will be performed for a limited run from March 8 th through April 8 th 2018 at 1723 Glenview Road in Glenview. Mass Appeal is a tender and thought-provoking comedy-drama that explores contemporary faith and human relationships on many levels and in many different ways.
As the play opens, we meet Father Tim Farley (Tim Kough), a charming church leader and agile parish
politician who is beloved by his “flock.” Father Farley maintains his comfortable lifestyle by flattering and entertaining his parishioners with witty sermons that skirt troubling issues. His non-confrontational style never makes waves. He tactfully avoids challenging anyone’s ideas or core beliefs. In return, he is lavished with affection and support by his congregants. He drives a Mercedes, travels abroad, and enjoys a generous supply of fine wines he receives from church members. Farley’s jovial and easy-going style has maintained his popularity for many years… a popularity he tracks by what he calls the “Nielsen ratings” of the offerings received in the Sunday collection plate.
Into this complacent environment comes Mark Dolson (R.J. Cecott) one Sunday morning during mass.
Dolson is a brash, idealistic and hotheaded young seminarian who is eager to challenge the comfortable
banality he sees in this church. As Father Farley leads a dialogue sermon on the question, “Should
women be priests?” the young firebrand shakes up the parishioners – and Father Farley – by challenging the older priest’s mainline stance on the ordination of women. After this rocky beginning, Farley learns that he has been assigned to mentor this young seminarian in the diplomacy of the priesthood, because, as Dolson himself puts it, “tact is something I need to learn.”
As the older pragmatic priest faces off against this idealistic young seminarian, a relationship develops
that transcends religious dogma and the old arguments of traditionalists versus reformers. The two men
each grow and change, both in their faith and in their humanity, as they come to know and better
understand each other. Their relationship develops from one of mentor and pupil into an abiding
friendship tempered by mutual respect. That friendship is then forged when the young seminarian faces a personal crisis at the seminary – a crisis that compels Father Farley to make a profound choice that could change both of their lives.
Is it possible a friendship as unlikely as this one might create something more than either man could
expect – perhaps a deeper understanding of what it means to be human? A more profound religious
faith? Even a kind of redemption? Well, as the old saying goes, “God works in mysterious ways.”
Executive and Artistic Director of Oil Lamp Theater and director of this production Keith Gerth feels that Mass Appeal embodies many of the ideals that motivate the work of the Oil Lamp Theater. As he writes, “Throughout our history we have stayed true to a philosophy that believes in the inherent goodness and strength of the human spirit – a resiliency… Central to every story that we tell on our stage is a belief in the redemptive quality of the human spirit. From our annual holiday show about George Bailey to this story of Father Farley – we explore characters that are faced with challenges to their ways of thinking and living. Through our telling of these stories, we strive to lift the spirit of our audiences – to encourage each person to take these stories and make them part of his or her daily journey.”
Mass Appeal premiered in New York City in May, 1980 featuring Milo O’Shea as Father Farley and Eric
Roberts as Mark Dolson. The play then moved to Broadway where it received the Outer Critic’s Circle
Award. Mass Appeal was made into a film in 1984 starring Jack Lemmon and Željko Ivanek.
“There are few more invigorating theatrical experiences than hearing the voice of a gifted writer for the first time.” The New York Times
“The New York Times “…Davis has a funniness that is more benign, more interwoven with elemental human weakness and strength, more forthright than wit. Humor, in short.” – New York Magazine
“Mr. Davis has written a play that lives up to the promise of its title… a tender comedy about the
meaning and power of both secular and religious love.” – Frank Rich, The New York Times
“…one of those very rare plays which not only entertains but also educates.” – The Hollywood
The cast of this Oil Lamp Theater production Mass Appeal features Tim Kough as Father Tim Farley and R.J. Cecott as Mark Dolson. Understudy for the role of Father Tim Farley is Edward Voci. The understudy for Mark Dolson is Kyle Quinlivan. The Stage Manager for this production is Brontë DeShong
Bill C. Davis (Playwright) is an American playwright who was born in Ellenville, New York. He attended Catholic schools as a child and graduated from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. After graduating with honors, he worked at a residential community for developmentally disabled and
emotionally disturbed adults. It was during this time that Davis wrote Mass Appeal, his first full-length
drama. Other plays by Davis include Dancing in the End Zone, Spine, Avow, and Wrestlers, an
exploration of the relationship between brothers, which has been performed by actors including Mark
Harmon, Judd Nelson, George Clooney, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Davis's plays have been produced in theatres throughout the U.S. and internationally. He is also the author of a novel entitled Connecticut Wildlife. His screenplay adaptation of Mass Appeal was made into a movie of the same name in 1984, starring Jack Lemmon.
Keith Gerth (Artistic Director and Director) founded Oil Lamp Theater in 2005. Prior to establishing the Theater, which was originally located in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, Keith held a number of positions with wide-ranging skills. After high school, Keith was a carpenter for eight years with Murray Countertops in Streator, Illinois. Keith left that position in 1989 to obtain a degree in Financial Accounting from Illinois State University. Keith graduated with honors and began working for the global professional services firm of Deloitte in 1991 and became a Certified Public Accountant. He worked at Deloitte for fifteen years in the Audit and Assurance practice, from which he retired in 2005 at the level of Director. Keith was professionally trained in acting at Act One Studios in Chicago, Illinois. Keith has been actively involved in the community through Chicago Cares and has served as a board officer for The Illinois Fatherhood Initiative and the Glenview Art League. Keith has also served on the board of Factory Theater in Chicago and is currently on the Board of the Glenview Chamber of Commerce. Keith is married to Carole Flamm. They live in Northbrook.
Performances of Mass Appeal are presented Thursdays through Sundays, with evening performances at
8:00pm and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00pm. Tickets are $35 and include complimentary
cookies and soft drinks. Oil Lamp Theater is BYOB with complimentary corkage and glasses. The
complete performance schedule and tickets are available at 847-834- 0738.
Oil Lamp Theater is located in downtown Glenview, Illinois, at 1723 Glenview Road. Free parking lots are available immediately west of the theater and across the street. Street parking is also available throughout downtown Glenview. Handicap parking is available adjacent to the theater. The theater may be reached by car (approximately one mile west of I-94) or by Metra (three blocks east of Milwaukee District/North – Glenview Station).
Title: Mass Appeal
By: Bill C. Davis
Dates: First performance and press opening: Thursday, March 8, 8:00pm
Closing performance: Sunday, April 8, 3:00pm
Schedule: Thursdays through Sundays. Evening performances at 8:00pm, Saturday and Sunday matinees
Location: Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview
Prices: All performances $35
Group and student rates are available.
Box Office: 847-834- 0738; oillamptheater.org
ABOUT OIL LAMP THEATER
Over the past thirteen years, Oil Lamp Theater has been dedicated to the presentation of traditional theater in an immersive, intimate setting. Under the executive and artistic leadership of Keith Gerth, Oil Lamp Theater has welcomed more than 40,000 guests into its unique, inviting venues. In March, 2012, Oil Lamp Theater was incorporated at a not-for- profit theater and established its current 60-seat location in downtown Glenview. The professional company performs plays that present and appeal to core American traditional values relevant to current issues. Oil Lamp Theater welcomes patrons as family, encouraging a personal atmosphere and artist interactions to emphasize human emotional connections.