Oak Park resident, former 'Popular' actress stars in new play

Adria Dawn to play role of Ruth in 'Miracle on South Division Street'

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By Ashley Lisenby

Digital Editor

If you ever watched Popular, a TV show in the late '90s to early 2000s about the social hierarchy of high school and family dynamics, then you probably remember the quirky, redhead named April Tuna. 

April, who once ran for student body president under the premise that she would prepare her classmates for an alien invasion by turning the school in to a welcoming station, was played by Oak Park resident Adria Dawn.

Her character started off with a few lines, Dawn recalled in a recent interview with Wednesday Journal. But through collaborations with the show's co-creator, Ryan Murphy, — you may also know him as the one of the creators of the FOX network show Glee — April blossomed into a reoccurring character for 18 episodes.

Dawn may be best known to some for her Popular days, but she has been working on many projects since then.

The Champaign native has appeared on a number of television shows, including Nip/Tuck, NCIS, Felicity, and My Name is Earl. She also operates Tarleton/Dawn Productions with her husband, David Tarleton. The couple produces an award-winning web series, Dorkumentary.

Dawn's busy schedule also includes working on indie film projects, as well as her web series. She does on-camera coaching and teaches Self-Management for Artists at Columbia College in Chicago. And she will play the role of Ruth in Tom Dudzick's Miracle on South Division Street at Theatre at the Center in Munster, Ind. in May.

"You can't ever say, 'No thanks,' to a great opportunity," Dawn said.

In the story of a family trying to decide what to do with their treasure — a 20-foot shrine of Mother Mary — Ruth is "the one who drops bombs. Throughout the play I tell everyone's secrets," Dawn said.

The play described as "a sprightly, gentle comedy," by New York Times critic Daniel M. Gold is worth the 40-minute drive to Indiana, Dawn noted. 

She and her family moved from Los Angeles to Chicago in 2009, and from Wicker Park to Oak Park about four years ago, to find a "family-oriented town." 

While Dawn has not worked with any of the local theatre troupes yet, she does dream of opening a local multimedia production company.

Miracle on South Division Street opens May 1 and runs through June 1, at Theatre at the Center.

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