Glenview’s Don Clark and Evanstons Teinowitz combine a new piece “When Harry Met Rehab” in Chicago
This piece is not about closure.
Harry Teinowitz’s experience has no conclusion – although on stage it promises to cause laughter and some pain.
Teinowitz, a former stand-up comedian and on-air athlete for more than 26 years on WLUP, ESPN, and WGN Radio, and friend and on-air partner Spike Manton wrote a play, “When Harry Met Rehab” , which is previewing its first main stage production since the COVID-19 pandemic at the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago on Wednesday, November 24th.
“When Harry Met Rehab” is loosely based on Teinowitz’s continued recovery from alcoholism, a process in which he joins an estimated 22 million other Americans.
The main actors Dan Butler (“Frasier”) and Melissa Gilbert (“Little House on the Prairie”) play under the slogan “A comedy that takes sobriety seriously”. Produced by Glenview’s Don Clark and directed by Jackson Gay.
Like Teinowitz, who began writing the play in the fifth year of his now almost eleven years of sobriety, Clark had reasons of his own for bringing this story to light.
His brother Tom Clark had his own alcohol addiction problems and died two years ago of pneumonia and other complications after receiving a liver transplant. Tom Clark and Teinowitz were friends in New Trier East.
“I find it very enriching and I know from my own experience that a great step forward in dealing with the challenges is to illuminate them and bring them to the public, to be open and honest. And that’s exactly what this piece is trying to do in part, “said Don Clark.
“I’ve pretty much met someone who doesn’t have a relative or friend who hasn’t faced these challenges,” said Clark, who had previous experience producing plays with Simon McBurney’s “The Encounter” on Broadway.
Clark, a retired trial attorney, was also executive producer on the Jeff Daniels film “Guest Artist” and recently wrote the well-received memoir of true crime, “Summary Judgment.” He is also a co-owner of the Chicago Magic Lounge in town.
“There is great strength in the community and in people there is hope, a willingness to help others who are ready to face these challenges,” said Clark, “and although the challenges are significant, there is success and hope. and people don’t have to feel alone to face these challenges honestly. “
This is where Teinowitz, 61, comes in.
The life of many parties during his radio career, in addition to his sports knowledge, he has been a lynchpin in trying to connect with radio sponsors and listeners at sports and social events and telecasts – his show on ESPN was called “The Afternoon Saloon” . ,” At long last.
“When I was drinking, the bars didn’t give me the last call, I gave them the last call,” said Teinowitz, a lifelong resident of Evanston.
But it became incessant.
A DUI arrest driving home in March 2011 from a Chicago Blackhawks game that Teinowitz said he reported to ESPN himself didn’t convince him he had a problem. Alcoholics, he thought, were people who needed to drink to function.
He took a recovery program to keep his job, but when the first step in a 12-step program was to admit that he was powerless over alcohol, that first step failed.
“I rightly went to rehab thinking I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I had a lot of friends,” said Teinowitz, who IMDb credits six film appearances with, including “Kid at Party” in “Risky Business.”
“I didn’t know rehab meant you were done drinking,” he said. “If I had known, I would not have left.”
Eventually he realized that in order to make something of it, he had to accept the situation and open up to his colleagues in recovery – played in “When Harry Met Rehab” by Chicago actors Elizabeth Laidlaw, Keith D. Gallagher, Chiké Johnson and Richard Gomez.
Butler, the Teinowitz character, portrayed the sports presenter “Bulldog” Briscoe in the “Cheers” spin-off “Frasier”. He hits the point.
“There are times when I think Dan Butler and Harry Teinowitz were separated at birth,” said Clark.
“I’m lucky,” said Teinowitz of Butler’s portrayal. “The first thing I noticed is that I lost about 50 pounds.”
The producer took a hit when Gilbert, after another actress dropped out due to a previous engagement, signed up late to play the role of the recovery program therapist, who was himself a former addict.
Gilbert is perhaps best known for playing Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie, but Gilbert has 79 acting credits on IMDb. She was the producer of Guest Artist, which won 13 film festival awards.
“She’s a tremendous talent and one of the hardest working women in the entertainment business I’ve ever met. She’s just got a wealth of experience,” said Clark.
Teinowitz, his script reinforced by the equally funny Manton, has a two-pronged goal for “When Harry Met Rehab”.
“My hope is that writing this piece will lead me to write another piece, but I also hope that there are people who are new to this program that I am participating in, that maybe there are people who are thinking that they need help, they would see this and say, ‘I have to go to a meeting,’ “he said.
“I think there is no closure for me because it’s an ongoing thing. It’s not like a college degree where you get a diploma.”