Steppenwolf Announces Cast For The Fundamentals

Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced today the complete cast for Erika Sheffer’s The Fundamentals, a smart and searing look at America’s corporate culture through the story of a Manhattan hotel maid with higher aspirations. Directed by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov, the cast features ensemble members Alana Arenas(Millie), Caroline Neff (Stellan) and Alan Wilder (Abe) with Audrey Francis (Eliza) and Armando Riesco (Lorenzo). Peyankov and Sheffer last collaborated on Steppenwolf’s 2014 Chicago premiere of Russian Transport, which also featured ensemble member Alan Wilder. Previews begin November 10, 2016 and the show runs through December 23, 2016 in Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted. Single tickets ($20 – $89) go on sale Friday, August 5 at 11am. 2016/17 season subscriptions and memberships are currently on sale through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or

Millie is a smart, resourceful young mother who works as a housekeeper in one of New York’s premier luxury hotels. When an opportunity to move into management gives her the chance to leave behind her blue collar life, Millie must decide how much, and who, she’s willing to sacrifice to secure her family’s future. A funny and scathing look at America’s corporate culture, The Fundamentals examines the compromises we make in order to fulfill our dreams.

The Fundamentals was commissioned by Steppenwolf and developed as part of the First Look new play series in 2015. As part of First Look, audiences were able to attend an open rehearsal of The Fundamentals followed by a discussion with Erika Sheffer and the artistic team, in addition to seeing a stage reading.

Alana Arenas has been an ensemble member since 2007, starring most recently in Marie Antoinette in 2015. Arenas recently received the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for her performance in Head of Passes at the Public Theatre. Caroline Neff is the newest ensemble member to join Steppenwolf. She has appeared in six Steppenwolf productions including the critically acclaimed Chicago premiere of The Flick this season. Alan Wilder, an original ensemble member, has appeared in more than 60 Steppenwolf productions, including Mary Page Marlowe and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden this season. Audrey Francis is currently starring in Between Riverside and Crazy and was seen in last season’s The Herd. Armando Riesco is a film and stage actor celebrated for his work as the title character in The Elliot Trilogy by Quiara Alegría Hudes and is currently starring in Avad Akhtar’s, Junk at the La Jolla Playhouse. He performed in Roadworks and Steppenwolf’s 1999 co-production of This Is Our Youth.


Erika Sheffer’s playwriting debut, Russian Transport, was produced at The New Group (Outer Critics Circle nomination) and Steppenwolf. She is a recipient of The Vineyard’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award. Her plays have been developed at The New Group, The Vineyard and Primary Stages. Sheffer has performed original pieces at Upright Citizens Brigade and Dixon Place. She is a member of SPACE on Ryder Farm’s Working Farm and Ars Nova Playgroup 2015/2016. Russian Transport is published by Dramatists Play Service. She received her BFA in Drama from Syracuse University.

Yasen Peyankov has been a Steppenwolf ensemble member since 2002. His Steppenwolf directing credits include Between Riverside and Crazy (playing now – August 21, 2016),Grand Concourse, Russian Transport, Hushabye (as part of First Look); and The Glass Menagerie for Steppenwolf for Young Adults. He also directed the Bulgarian premiere ofAugust: Osage County at the National Theatre in Sofia, Bulgaria. Other directing credits include Uncle Vanya, Stars in the Morning Sky, Macbeth, Roberto Zucco, Go Away Go Away, Slavs! (European Repertory Company); Overweight, Unimportant, Misshape: A European Supper (Trap Door Theatre); and Ladybird (Rushforth Productions), among others. On stage he has appeared in productions at Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre and made his Broadway debut in Superior Donuts in 2009. He has translated and adapted Russian plays by Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Bulgakov, Nikolai Kolyada, Alexander Galin and Vassily Sigarevall. He is the recipient of a Joseph Jefferson Award, Fox Fellowship and serves as the Head of Theatre in the School of Theatre and Music at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he teaches acting and directs.

The Fundamentals production team includes Collette Pollard (scenic design), Natasha Dukich (costume design), Lee Fiskness (lighting design), Rick Sims (sound design and original music) and Stephan Mazurek (projection design). Other credits include Aaron Carter (artistic producer), JC Clementz (casting), Laura D. Glenn (stage manager) and Nora Mally (assistant stage manager).


Title: The Fundamentals
Author: Erika Sheffer
Director: Ensemble member Yasen Peyankov
Featuring: Ensemble members Alana Arenas, Caroline Neff, and Alan Wilder with Audrey Francis and Armando Riesco
Location: Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St
Dates: Previews: November 10 – November 19, 2016
Press Performances: Saturday, November 19 at 3pm Tuesday, November 22 at 7:30pm
Opening: November 20 at 6pm (by invitation only)
Regular Run: November 22 – December 23 Wednesday 2pm matinees are December 7, 14 and 21
No Sunday 7:30pm shows on December 11 and 18
Accessible Performances: ASL interpretation: December 4, 2016 at 7:30pm
Open-captioned: December 10, 2016 at 3pm
Audio-described and touch tour: December 18, 2016 at 3pm

Curtain Times
Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30pm.
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3pm.

Ticket prices
Previews: $20 – $54
Regular Run: $20 – $89
Prices subject to change.
20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available for subscription shows on the day of the performance at 11am (Mon – Sat) and 1pm (Sun), by phone only at 312-335-1650. Limit 2 per person.
Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.
Student Discounts: Limited $15 student tickets are available online. (Limit 2 tickets. Must present a valid student ID for each ticket). For additional student discounts, visit
Group Tickets: All groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance throughout the season.
Audience Services: Single tickets go on sale Friday, August 5, 2016 at 11am
1650 N Halsted St, 312-335-1650
Online ticketing available at

Major Support for The Fundamentals is provided by The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Major support for Steppenwolf’s New Play Development Initiative is provided by The Davee Foundation and the Zell Family Foundation.

The Fundamentals is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

Steppenwolf’s 2016/17 Season opens with the world premiere of Visiting Edna by David Rabe, directed by Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro (September 15 – November 6); the Chicago premiere of The Christians by Lucas Hnath, directed by ensemble member K. Todd Freeman (December 1, 2016 – January 29, 2017); the Chicago premiere of Straight White Men, written and directed by Young Jean Lee (February 2 – March 19, 2017); the world premiere of Linda Vista by ensemble member Tracy Letts, directed by Dexter Bullard (March 30 – May 21, 2017); and the Chicago premiere of Hir by Taylor Mac, directed by Hallie Gordon (June 29 – August 20, 2017); and an additional summer show, Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu (June 1 – July 9, 2017).

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is America’s longest standing, most distinguished ensemble theater, producing nearly 700 performances and events annually in its three Chicago theater spaces—the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an ensemble of 46 actors, writers and directors. Beginning in 2016/17, Steppenwolf expands artistic programming to include a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a new multidisciplinary performance series. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Steppenwolf has the distinction of being the only theater to receive the National Medal of Arts, in addition to numerous other prestigious honors including an Illinois Arts Legend Award and 12 Tony Awards. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Managing Director. Nora Daley is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit, and