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Stand-up comedian, actor and writer Mark Roberts returns home for the Midwest Premiere of The New York Times’ Critics’ Pick NEW COUNTRY at The Den Theater,1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. The no-holds-barred show, described by Stage and Cinema as a“…hilarious, poignant, and at times heart-wrenching comedic drama,” previews February 20, 2016 and runs through May 14, 2016. Under the direction of Ian Streicher, the uncensored comedy about a country star’s Nashville bachelor party going wildly amiss is sure to entertain audiences looking to push the proverbial envelope for a moving and hilarious night out.

In NEW COUNTRY, good-ole bad boy and country music star Justin Spears has the world on its knees. Tomorrow he’s tying the knot, but tonight, he’s tying one on with his entourage of ruthless managers, faux fans and friends, and his favorite pig-farming uncle. So how does this rambunctious rodeo go so wrong, so fast? Welcome to the NEW COUNTRY, where the hits just keep on comin,’ and the raucous fun quickly turns to men behaving badly and gun totin’ chickens coming home to roost. The New York Times described NEW COUNTRY as having “plenty of raunch, but just enough heart.”

Best known for his TV work on hit comedy sitcoms Two and a Half Men and Mike & Molly,NEW COUNTRY writer Mark Roberts trained as an actor and began his theater career in 1982 in Champaign-Urbana, where he first met director Ian Streicher (Off Broadway, The Sensational Josephine Baker, Artistic Director, Rare Terra Theatre) and producer Chuck Gessert (Managing Director, South Bend Civic Theatre). NEW COUNTRY, Roberts’ eighth play, was selected by Smith and Kraus publishers as one of the best new plays of 2015. The Chicago run is produced by Fair Trade Productions which includes Roberts, Streicher, Gessert and Kelcie Beene (Producer of the New York Premiere). Roberts considers NEW COUNTRY the beginning of an ongoing artistic investment in the Chicago community.

“My writing has always lent itself to Midwestern voices and sensibilities. It only makes sense that I should be generating my work here,” said Roberts of his homecoming. “The talent here is something special, full of actors and artists I’ve wanted to work with for years.”

Six southern-fried characters are dynamic in the cast of NEW COUNTRY. Roberts stars as uncensored, pig-farming Uncle Jim with co-stars Michael Monroe Goodman as country heartthrob Justin Spears, Frank Nall and Will Clinger as Justin’s ruthless manager’s Paul and Chuck, Colter O’ryan Smith as star-struck bellboy Ollie, and Sarah Lemp as Justin’s scorned ex-girlfriend Sharon. In addition to Streicher as Director and Producers Beene and Gessert, the creative team is rounded out by Assistant Director Ellen Fred, Stage Manager Jessica Forella, multiple Jeff Award winning Set Designer Kevin Hagan and multiple Jeff Award winning Costume Designer Rachel Lambert.

Performances for NEW COUNTRY are Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 6 p.m. The show runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. For more information or tickets, please call 1-800-838-3006 or visit

About the Artists

In his first life as a comedian, Mark Roberts (playwright, actor) appeared several times on The Tonight Show, as well as comedy specials on Fox, HBO, and Showtime. He also performed at the comedy festivals in Montreal, Toronto and Aspen.

In his second life as an actor, Roberts was seen on such shows as Seinfeld, Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Larry Sanders Show, The Practice, and was a series regular on The Naked Truth starring Téa Leoni. He’s also in the movies Bulletproof, Next of Kin, andMeet the Applegates.

In Roberts’s third life as a writer, he has penned the stage plays Welcome to Tolono, Enter at Forrest Lawn,

Whitey, Couples Counseling Killed Katie, Rantoul and Die, Paradise Drag, and Where the Great Ones Run. The latter three are published by Dramatists Play Service and performed around the country and as far away as Stockholm, Sweden. He also spent seven years as head writer and executive producer on Two and a Half Men, three seasons as an executive consultant on The Big Bang Theory and three seasons as creator-show runner and occasional director on Mike and Molly.

Director Ian Streicher’s Chicago credits include the Midwest Premieres of David Hirson’s Wrong Mountain (Rare Terra Theatre), Greg Kalleres’ A Beautiful Spell (Royal George Theatre), Neil LaBute’s Love at 20 & I Love This Game (Profiles Theatre), and Jonathan Silverman’s Women and Wallace (Griffin Theatre). Off Broadway in New York, Streicher directed the World Premiere of Cheryl Howard’s The Sensational Josephine Becker(Beckett Theatre, Theatre Row) and off-off Broadway, he directed the World Premieres of Richard Ploetz’s Versailles (Theatre For The New City), Richard Ploetz’s Old Flame(Emerging Artists Theatre), Scott Klavan’s P.O. (NY International Fringe Festival), and Ted LoRusso’s Moon Night (Emerging Artists Theatre). He is a member of NYC’s Emerging Artists Theatre, Co-founder of Chicago’s Rare Terra Theatre, and an Associate Member of SCD.