Whiskey Neat

"Whiskey Neat" begins Jan. 12 at The Drama Group.

Paul Milord, writer and co-director of Chicago Heights’ Drama Group’s “Whiskey Neat,” cited a specific moment from “The Godfather” as an inspiration to put pen to paper and create his drama.

Yet it’s a moment that even the most ardent fan of the 1972 crime classic may overlook.

“There’s a scene where there’s a guy driving and the guy in the back seat’s a big shot,” Milord said. “The driver does some fancy driving and the guy in the back says ‘Nice work, Lou.’ And I always thought ‘Who’s Lou? Who’s the guy standing behind the guy?’ ‘Whisky Neat’ is about the guys like Lou who do the dirty work.”

Opening Jan. 12 and running through Jan. 21, “Whiskey Neat” looks at the lives and struggles of a handful of low-level employees and assorted affiliates working in the backroom of a shady gambling club in the Windy City in the late 1940s.

Milord began writing “Whiskey” two years ago. Early last year, Drama Group brought a reading of his play to the stage.

“What it’s really about is loneliness and loss,” said Milord, who is directing the play with Deb Brunette. “It’s about desperation and redemption. It’s about ‘Who are these people?’ and ‘What are their lives?’”

Drama Group’s cast for “Neat” is made up of seven area thesps - Chuck Cairns, Regina Gadotti, Bob Szczepanski, Kenny Garner, Samm Hilger, Jeff Peterson and Nick Markionni.

Milord is admittedly blown away with his cast’s work and watching the production brought from his script to life.

“These are all characters being brought to the stage for the first time, and they bring out certain things and focus on a thing here or a line there that comes off as something different than I imagined, but better,” Milord said. “It’s just fascinating to watch. I’m so very excited. I think that we’re going to have a terrific show.”

Next Up for Drama Group is a production of the musical “A New Brain,”  scheduled to open at Milord Studio Theatre on March 9.

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