Home Musical play Center Stage Theater’s ‘Fortunate Sons’ to Perform in Naperville

Center Stage Theater’s ‘Fortunate Sons’ to Perform in Naperville


The words Uncle Louis often shared with his young nephew decades ago stay with him to this day.

“’Listen, kid, our country isn’t perfect, but it’s the best country in the world,’ said SP 4 Louis Castillo. ‘Always remember that.'”

The story of the sense of duty and patriotism felt by Castillo – and thousands of people like him – is told in the original play “Fortunate Sons”. Written by Castillo’s nephew and Naperville resident Louie Santiago, the play runs November 5-6 at the Center Stage Theater in Naperville.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. on November 5 and 3 p.m. on November 6. A portion of the ticket proceeds will benefit Vietnam veterans.

The play is based on the real-life story of Castillo, who was living in Chicago when the U.S. Army drafted him in late 1964.

“He had plans to go to medical school after college and become a doctor in our old neighborhood and help families in the neighborhood,” Santiago said.

Castillo spent most of 1965 training as a doctor.

“He had to make choices but from day one he was just an ultra patriotic man. He said ‘I’m going to Vietnam; I’ll get my training as a doctor. From there I’ll ask the government to pay for medical school.’ Santiago said. “He had a girlfriend, Phyllis… They planned to get married when he got back from Vietnam. But he never came back.”

Santiago, who was close to Castillo, was 8 years old when his uncle was killed in action in 1966.

“He was only 23,” he said.

Around 12 years ago, Santiago first used Castillo’s letters home as well as memories shared by his aunts and uncles as the basis for a short story about him. Later, he decided to adapt the story into a play.

“It’s about him, his journey and the stories he shared with our family before he left us,” Santiago said.

Director Sami Casten, who works as a house manager at Center Stage Theater and as an audience services associate at Aurora’s Paramount Theater, said the play is about patriotism, loyalty, determination and what really motivates people.

“A sense of duty is what we all feel in the room,” said Casten, who lives in Naperville. “What you feel obligated to, whether to your country, your family, your loved ones. That’s really what we really focus on.

Casten met Santiago at Center Stage while he was at the theater for a work-related event. After Santiago mentioned he wanted to direct the play he had written, he was introduced to Casten, a recent graduate of Illinois State University where she studied acting and also did directing. .

“I’m really happy that we can do this for him and for others who may have similar stories,” Casten said. “I think it’s really important to show up and maybe people feel a little less alone. As if they had a community.

The two-act play incorporates a fair amount of audiovisual elements, she said.

“Louie put out a lot of really cool videos of the era and music of the era,” she said.

Casten said she and many of the nine-member cast were “pretty young” and learned a lot from the play.

So it’s very telling to hear this kind of story not quite from a direct point of view, but from family members,” she said.

Santiago, who works as a marketing manager for Chicagoland CARSTAR, said the part was part of the auto body repair company’s veterans initiative. Through this initiative, CARSTAR is working with the National Auto Body Council and its Recycled Rides program to provide four completely reconditioned vehicles to veterans in need in Chicagoland. The play is raising funds to help offset the cost of the renovation.

“When you see the families getting the vehicles, you can’t put words to it,” Santiago said.

The Veterans Initiative also gives away tickets to veterans to see “Fortunate Sons” through local VFWs.

“We try to fill the theater with veterans,” Santiago said. “We’re going to salute the veterans in the game during intermission.

“We just want to say ‘hey you’re not forgotten,'” Santiago said. “‘Thank you for your service.'”

Veterans who wish to attend the play for free can contact Santiago at 630-222-2707 for free tickets.

“I hope my uncle is looking at us from that big baseball in the sky and smiling,” Santiago said. “I hope we did well.”

‘Lucky Son’

When: November 5-6

Where: Center Stage Theater, 1665 Quincy Ave, Suite 131, Naperville

Tickets: $30

Information: 630-355-9212; centerstage-theater.com/shows/fortunate-sons/

Kathy Cichon is a freelance writer for the Naperville Sun.