'Daisy' finally blooms to open 59th season at Village Theatre Guild

  • Members of an advertising firm in 1964 bring their individual perspectives to the table in the creation of a controversial TV ad in "Daisy" by Sean Devine at Village Theatre Guild. Pictured, from left, are Mike Janke, Linda Cunningham, Chris Carpenter, Tom Viskocil, and Rahman Williams.

    Members of an advertising firm in 1964 bring their individual perspectives to the table in the creation of a controversial TV ad in "Daisy" by Sean Devine at Village Theatre Guild. Pictured, from left, are Mike Janke, Linda Cunningham, Chris Carpenter, Tom Viskocil, and Rahman Williams. Courtesy of David Dowell

 
 
Updated 10/18/2022 7:29 PM

The Village Theatre Guild opens its 59th season with "Daisy" by Sean Devine.

This production goes behind the scenes of the real-life story of the New York advertising agency that created the controversial TV "Daisy" ad, which ran only once in 1964. This ad, which was for President Lyndon Johnson's election campaign, featured a little girl counting the petals that she picks off a daisy. A mission launch countdown is heard and then there is an image and sound of a nuclear explosion.

 

"Daisy" is directed by Terry Kozlowski and produced by Renata Allelujka. The cast features Chris Carpenter, Derek L. Cook, Linda Cunningham, Mike Janke, Tom Viskocil, and Rahman Williams.

Kozlowski looks forward to what audiences will take away from this production.

"The play gives us an opportunity to step into a time machine. So whether you were alive then and remember or if you weren't yet born, audiences will have both the experience of that time and how relevant and thought-provoking the questions raised by the play remain today," she said.

"Daisy" was originally scheduled for the summer show slot as part of Village Theatre Guild's 2019-2020 season. It was supposed to open May 22, 2020. COVID closed theaters down that March and throughout the following year.

Last season, "Daisy" was again scheduled in the same slot, but an earlier production delayed its opening by a month, which affected the shows to follow. "Daisy" moved again to a projected slot for a third season.

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Twenty-nine months after it was supposed to run at Village Theatre Guild, "Daisy" opens on Oct. 21 and runs for 12 performances until Nov. 12.

It had been eight years since Carpenter auditioned for a play. "Daisy" interested him enough to end his self-imposed hiatus.

"I looked around to see who was doing what and thought this type of text-driven, Sorkinesque script is right up my alley, not to mention telling a 1964 story that happens to be incredibly topical today in 2022," Carpenter explained.

Janke had similar feelings about this play. "It's a tight, well-written script, and it draws some interesting parallels between the political environment of the early '60s and what we're experiencing today. I'd also been itching to be part of a show at VTG for a while now, having seen some really good productions here," he said.

Performances will be 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 21 to Nov. 12. There are 2 p.m. matinee Saturday and Sunday performances on Oct. 23, 30, Nov. 5, and 6. The performance on Oct. 23 is already sold out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Williams reflected on what he has discovered about his character during the rehearsal process. "I am definitely feeling like I am in the character's shoes and viewpoint from that time period. I'm also noticing how the character struggles placing the bigger picture or greater goal above his own needs and views. I know that is challenging when I am faced with those types of decisions now, but to imagine through the eyes of an African-American during that time frame is definitely a different perspective. I wonder if I was in the character's place as my own self, would I make the same decisions and react the same way?"

Pictured, from left, are Chris Carpenter, Linda Cunningham, Rahman Williams, Tom Viskocil, and Derek L. Cook rehearsing "Daisy," Village Theatre Guild's upcoming production, set in an advertising firm creating a controversial 1964 TV ad.
Pictured, from left, are Chris Carpenter, Linda Cunningham, Rahman Williams, Tom Viskocil, and Derek L. Cook rehearsing "Daisy," Village Theatre Guild's upcoming production, set in an advertising firm creating a controversial 1964 TV ad. - Courtesy of David Dowell

Tickets are available at villagetheatreguild.com/productions or by calling the box office at (630) 469-8230. Tickets are $22 (all fees included).

Village Theatre Guild is located at 2S720 Park Blvd. (near northwest corner of Butterfield Road and Park Boulevard) in Glen Ellyn. Free parking is available.

Kozlowski is excited that the show is about to open after all this time. "It has been a long wait. But we have had an intervening presidential election. And we are now presenting in another important election period. So perhaps it was meant to have this most relevant timing. Thrilled to finally present what we have been preparing since 2019," she said.

Village Theatre Guild requires masks be worn by audiences and production staff members. The actors will be performing without masks. Please visit villagetheatreguild.org for more information on the COVID policy.

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