On the Open Road

By Steven Tesich

Directed by Cara Peterson

A new play by Steve Tesich, the author of "Breaking Away." In a landscape stripped bare by civil war, two "independents" forge an uneasy alliance and travel the country gathering art treasures from the crumbling museums, in order to buy their way into the land of the free.

Produced by Mercury Players at the Drury stage in the Bartell Theatre (formerly the Esquire),113 E. Mifflin Street

Performances: March 14-30, 2002

  • Preview March 14
  • March 15, 16 and 17
  • 21, 22, 23 and 24
  • 28, 29 and 30


  • Thursdays @ 7:30 p.m.
  • Fridays @ 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturdays @ 4:00 and 8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday @ 4:00

TICKETS: "Pay What You Can" Preview on March 14, $10 Thursdays, $12 All other shows

RESERVATIONS: 608/242-0150



On the Open Road begins when Al, a weary intellectual, forms an uneasy alliance with Angel. Al needs a "human ox" to pull his cart and Angel fits the bill. They plunder bombed-out museums and churches for paintings and statues, hoping to barter their way across the border to the "Land of the Free." As they journey through the war-torn wasteland, Al becomes a mentor to Angel and educates him about literature, music, art and politics.

At the border they are told they must pay a further price for their freedom -- they must kill a troublemaker named Jesus Christ, whose Second Coming has sent the world into a frenzy of religious factionalism and re-ignited a civil war. The cello-playing Jesus is a prisoner at a nearby monastery and it seems both the church and the state want him dead, yet no one wants to take the blame.


Steve Tesich was born in 1942 in Titovo Uzice, a town in Western Serbia--then Yugoslavia. He didn't speak a word of English when he moved with his mother to the United States at the age of 12. He attended the University of Indiana on a wrestling scholarship. In 1980, he won an Academy Award for "Breaking Away," a film based on his college experiences. He also wrote or adapted screenplays for "The World According to Garp," "American Flyers," and "Eleni." His play Division Street debuted on Broadway in 1980.

Tesich was an outspoken critic of U.S. interventionism abroad, and decried the increasing economic stratification in the United States. "There is, since there is only so much hope to go around, a freeze on hope. The have-nots have been reclassified as never-will-haves," he wrote.

Tesich died of a heart attack in 1996 while vacationing with his family.


"Witty absurdist drama ... a touch of Laurel and Hardy here, a smidgen of Cheech and Chong there."

-- Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Cara Peterson directed a segment of last yearís Blitzkrieg II: Electric Boogaloo!, Mercury Players' 24-hour play marathon. She also directed Birdbath (Madison Theatre Guild After Hours). While studying at Iowa State University, she directed Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, A Christmas Carol and Keely and Du. Cara has appeared in Madison in Sweeney Todd (Strollers Theatre) and in the Madison/San Francisco tour of Temp Slave: The Musical (Mercury Players). Cara has also designed costumes for the Madison productions of Woman In Mind and Kindertransport (Strollers) and Angels in America (First Banana Productions). Cara has also worked professionally with The Old Creamery Theatre in Iowa, the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival and The Cherry County Playhouse in Michigan. Cara will direct the upcoming production of Tracers (First Banana) which will open this June.


Micheal Herman (Al) marks his third production with Mercury Players. He was seen on stage this winter in Computers in Love and he directed The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told last year. Micheal also played Joe Pitt in Angels in America (First Banana.)

Caleb Arthur Stone (Angel) is the artistic director of First Banana Productions. He has appeared in First Banana productions of Talk Radio, Rocket to the Moon, Grace Notes and The History of the Devil. He also directed Glengarry Glen Ross and produced Angels in America.

Casey Grimm (Monk) has appeared in Computers in Love (Mercury Players), and Lonestar and Words, Words, Words (Roundhill Theatre Company). He also directed Bobby Gould in Hell for Roundhill Theatre Company.

Steven Van Haren (Boy) has previously appeared in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Strollers), FACEvalue and The Color Of Dust (Broom Street Theatre), The Skin Of Our Teeth (Madison Theater Guild), and most recently Computers in Love (Mercury Players).

Will McGuire (Jesus) is a theater and English student at the UW. He recently made his Madison debut in Macbeth (Strollers.)

Douglas Holtz (Cookieman/Hangman) appeared in Computers in Love (Mercury Players) as a Wanker/Monster.

Kira Jepsen (Girl) has been involved in Madison community theater since she was 3. She has acted with MATC, Playtime Productions, Madison Theater Guild and Mercury Players.