Early on in "Top Girls," Marlene, the play's central character, meets with females from past centuries, both real and fictional, who have struggled with adversity and made their imprint on subsequent generations of women.
In the fantasy sequence, Marlene shares floor space with the likes of Isabella Bird, the 19th century British explorer; Pope Joan, who was alleged to have served as the ruler of the Catholic Church 1,000 years ago; and Lady Nijo, who was the mistress of a Japanese emperor in the 11th Century.
While a goal of "Girls" is to make members of both sexes laugh, Dani Lane, who plays Marlene in Michigan City's Dunes Summer Theatre's production, hopes attendees get more out of the story than that.
"It's not an out–and–out comedy. It deals with pretty interesting issues," she said. "It kind of shows that maybe women's issues have not changed so much over the centuries. It's a really intriguing, really smart, clever play."
Opening Sept. 7 and running through Sept. 23, "Girls" chronicles Marlene's professional and familial struggles after she is appointed the managing director of the Top Girls Employment Agency. At work, Marlene is forced to face those opposed to her advancement within the company, and off the clock, she struggles with her sister Joyce and niece Angie.
Penned by British playwright Caryl Churchill, "Girls" premiered in England in 1982 and has been a hit in her homeland ever since. On this side of the pond, "Girls" made its Broadway debut in 2007.
Dunes Summer Theatre's production of "Girls" is directed by George Maslankowski.
"I think that it will give people something to talk about and walk away thinking about things," Lane said, "whether it be in politics or the place of women within religious circles or in the workplace."
Joining Lane on stage in "Girls" and assuming multiple roles are Peyton Daley, Sarah Dwight and Isha Leon, from Michigan City; Deb Campanella and Alyssa Moskwa, from Valparaiso; and Chicago's Marilyn Baldwin.
At 6 p.m. Sept. 14, Dunes Summer Theatre will host a reception for the newly formed Michigan City–based Commission for Women prior to the staging of the play. The commission's goals centers around economic, political, health and social equality for Michigan City women.
The final production of Dunes Summer Theatre's 2012 season, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," is scheduled to open Oct. 5.