LAUGH to Keep From Crying

Sheree Bynum Presents

LAUGH to Keep from Crying

A Series of Comedic Skits

Written and Directed by Christine Houston
September 15–17, 2017

4 Performances Only!
Richard Christiansen Theater
MacArthur’s Restaurant (Fine Southern Cuisine), Official Sponsor

From the mind and pen of Professor Christine Houston (creator of the 90’s NBC TV Series 227) comes a series of comedic skits. Chicago is going to get a dose of much needed laughter and absolute acting genius. LAUGH to Keep From Crying is the brainchild of Chicago native and nominated actress, Sheree Bynum. It’s more than a series of comedic skits, it’s Sheree’s opportunity and contribution to turn Chicago’s tears into laughter. In this very limited show run, Sheree and the #LAUGHtkfc ensemble will engage, inspire and deliver comedy at it’s best. This five skit show, mixes Christine Houston’s signature brand of comedy about everyday people and everyday situations with edgy side-splitting humor on various social topics. It also showcases Sheree’s ability to seamlessly become different characters that will leave you laughing out loud.

One City, One Chicago, One Goal… #LAUGHtkfc

A portion of the proceeds will go towards funding FREE youth and senior workshops and wellness programs, a step in the right direction towards creating a more peaceful city.

Christine Houston

Christine Houston is a native Chicagoan, an award-winning playwright, screen-writer, actress, director, and producer.

She has written more than nineteen comedy skits and several full-length and one-act plays. Her award-wining play (written while a student at Chicago’s Kennedy King Community College), Two Twenty-Seven, won The Norman Lear Playwriting award and was adapted to television and became NBC’s hit television series 227

In 2013, her novel, Laughing Through The Tears, based on a true story, was published. This compelling book allows the reader to experience the anger, fear and denial of dealing with a loved one who has the life-changing disease dementia.

In 2017 she co-wrote a textbook with Dr. Christine List, head of the Program in Media Arts at Chicago State University.  The textbook was published this year and is titled The Screenwriter’s Guidebook: Inspiring Lessons for Film and Television Writers.

Ms. Houston currently teaches Writing For Television and Writing The Screenplay at Chicago State University.

Over 40 years ago, Ms. Houston prematurely returned from Hollywood to take care of her ailing loved ones. She postponed her writing career and rightfully put family in its proper place, first. Now, she is praying that history repeats itself and launch her back into Hollywood giving her another television series to share more of her funny stories and everyday characters the world will grow to love.

Sheree Bynum is a natural performer who consistently brings to life the portrait of any director’s written imagery.  Her performance in the indie film Overcome garnished her a Best Actress nomination by the Black Excellence Committee/African American Arts Alliance.  Sheree has been blessed with national TV commercials and print ads from Walmart and features in Black Enterprise Magazine, as well as landed leading roles in indie films Bachelor’s Grove with Richard Pryor Jr. (internet release), Black Butterfly and I Used to Love Her, both of which have been nationally released.  She has worked alongside actors such as Keisha Sharp (NBC, Lethal Weapon), Karen Malina White (The Cosby Show, Malcom and Eddie) and Angell Conwell (Bounce TV, Family Time).

Sheree landed the leading lady role of Mary in the original hit stage play Two Twenty Seven that was turned into a NBC TV Sitcom.  An alumnus of Illinois State University and graduate of Second City’s Improv Class, Sheree ultimately plans to pen her own TV sitcom with relatable characters dealing with life’s taboo issues.  Sheree also has credits as a producer for Robert Townsend in creating fundraising videos involving NAEFI, National Alliance of the Formerly Incarcerated and the Chicago Westside Branch NAACP.

Shonda Royall has been working as a freelance artist since 2004. Some of Shonda’s credentials include working as a production assistant for Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies and as an assistant stage manager for Dr. Christine Houston’s theatre production 227. A proud alum of Chicago State University, Shonda received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, Media Arts and Theatre in 2014. Shonda has held both internships and employment at both the Black Ensemble Theatre as well as, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. Acting as creator and contributor of her new Brand Royall-Life, Shonda seeks to encourage people to live their best lives, “therefore leading to you live a RoyallLife”. Shonda is excited for the opportunity to work with both Sheree Bynum (227) and Dr. Christine Houston (227), again. Both women being personal inspirations and mentors to Shonda.

Corey E. Bailey

Making people laugh has been natural throughout Corey’s life, however, his comedic ascension did not begin until 1992 at All Jokes Aside where he performed stand up comedy weekly for two years until the club’s closure.  In 1998, Corey further developed his skill set as a comedic host for the Midwest Regional Music Association’s RCA New Artist Showcase. The same year, Corey received the opportunity to work with the legendary King of Comedy, Bernie Mac, at Club Milt Trainers.

In addition to stand up comedy and hosting, Corey is making waves in the world of acting in film and on stage. He was featured in episodes of The Chicago Code, Little Fockers, and Verizon Wireless commercials. He has landed roles in several stage plays. Corey continues to be a strong force in the comedy arena catering to several prestigious events such as The Chicagoland Radio Announcers Guild, The Academy of Criminology, church functions, and guest hosting radio shows in Chicago.

Corey is excited about the doors God is opening in his life. He is dedicated to sharing his life experiences through clean comedy and acting.

Tiffany J. Curtis

A native of Chicago, Tiffany began her acting at the young age of eight years old, starring as Angel in the gospel play God Answers Prayers. You might remember her best as a series regular on the Emmy Award winning television show The Awakening. Her portrayal of Marquita Perry, a character that gave us a glimpse into adolescent urban life, was loved by many! Currently, she can be seen in independent web series, The City Hates Us and Rural.  Additional film credits include A Get2Gether, Black Butterfly and Barbershop (I &II). 

Although being in front of the camera comes naturally for Tiffany, she most enjoys the stage. Whether participating in The Second City’s first urban sketch comedy ensemble Forgotten City or portraying multiple characters in the hilarious traveling stage production The Penis Monologues. Her performance in the off-Broadway play Choices allowed her the opportunity to tour nationwide. Having been blessed with the natural talent of a performer; this has opened many doors for Tiffany – including being a presenter at the 1993 Chicago/Mid-West Emmy Awards, participant as a performer in the LSH My Bad reading series, as well as an opportunity to host her own gospel radio show, Lively Stones, for three years. Formal training for Tiffany includes theater at Columbia College and independent scene study in Los Angeles. She has had instruction in dance at Columbia College and Lou Conte Dance Studio (of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago).

David Leonard is excited to be a part of this amazing production. Although he has worked in multiple areas of the entertainment industry for over 20 years, acting has always been a major passion for him. David has recently been seen in the popular NBC series Chicago Fire several commercials and independent films such as Get A Job and Zodiac Sign. When not on stage or in front of the camera, David has also worked behind the scenes as a location scout/assistant location manager on major film and television productions such as Empire, Shameless, Divergent and the upcoming Showtime drama The Chi. David is a native of Harvey, Illinois and a graduate of Columbia College in Chicago.

Felisha McNeal

Felisha (Ekundayo) McNeal, is a 2015-2016 Outstanding Actress recipient of The Black Excellence Award for eta Creative Arts Foundation’s production of Repairing a Nation; she received a 2013 Joseph Jefferson Award Non-Equity Wing for best actress in another eta production, Jar the Floor. Earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Performing Arts from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin she has performed in Illinois and Wisconsin for the last 39 years. Felisha has performed for MPACCT, Chicago Dramatist, The Black Ensemble Theatre, Fleetwood-Jourdain, Hidden Stages, and Chicago State University. She has performed for summer theatre audiences as well as in dinner theatres. Felisha retired from the public sector in February 2014 after 30 years of service. She is the mother of a bright and beautiful daughter, and the grandmother of a handsome and spirited 5 year old. When asked after 39 years what has kept her dream alive, she replies, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun …or does it explode? I chose that my dream explodes.”

Tahndrea McQuirter-Carson

Tahndrea is a natural performer and affectionately known by many as Mz. T. She made her acting debut in the stage play, The Mitty Collier Story: From Man To God.  She is married to James (Jim) Carson, and is the mother of 3 daughters, grandmother of 9, and great-grandmother of 4. Tahndrea is a fantastic soprano.  She has acted in and directed many church productions and skits.  She is a motivational speaker and recently completed a national print advertisement for Centene Healthcare. She is a member of the More Like Christ Christian Fellowship Church where she teaches Sunday school, sings on the Praise Team, and mentors the youth.  In 2009, Tahndrea was in a car accident and the doctors said that she would never walk again, but by standing on the Word of God in Jeremiah 30:17, “For I will restore health unto you and heal you of all your wounds,” she is now walking, praise dancing, and giving God all the praise!

Mel Roberson

Mel was born and raised on the south side of Chicago.  He has a unique mixture of book and street smarts that are exemplified in his business savvy and stage/film presence. He is an amazing actor and writer. He’s been featured in major network TV shows such as Chicago P.D. (NBC) and Empire (FOX). He has several films under his belt and a ton of stage experience. He has also performed internationally as an actor and spoken word artist. Outside of the arts, he’s an Amazon best selling author (31 Amazing Life Lessons of Joshua Stokes), public speaker and above all – a dynamic father.