American Beauty Shop

It’s hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps in this economy—Sue should know. It’s harder when you’ve got kids, even whip-smart, talented ones like Judy. Sue has big dreams for both her basement beauty shop and her daughter, who’s anxiously waiting for a letter from Berkeley that could change her life. Armed with tough love, combative humor and an uncompromising work ethic, Sue is struggling to balance her own livelihood and Judy’s future. A heartfelt play about the true cost of dreams.

Workshops and Readings:                

  • Published by Bloomsbury Methuen, May 2016
  • Steppenwolf, First Look Series, August, 2014
  • Florida Studio Theatre, Richard and Betty Burdick Reading Series, May, 2012
  • Steep Theatre, Backyard Reading Reading Series, February, 2012
  • Illinois Shakespeare Fest, June, 2011
  • Chicago Dramatists, Saturday Series, January, 2011


  • Chicago Dramatists, May 7, 2016- June 5, 2016           


"AMERICAN BEAUTY SHOP is a powerful illustration of the cycle of poverty. Formby gives us real people stuck by their choices, their comfort levels and the surrounding circumstances.  She even ends the play with two ways; the best outcome and the worst outcome. It’s a poignant message of how life can change drastically in an instant.  AMERICAN BEAUTY SHOP is the unattractive, sad reality of too many Americans." - The Fourth Walsh

"How many stories do we find in popular culture about working-class American women in small towns?... Fortunately, Dana Lynn Formby plants her flag firmly in the dusty soil of Western towns...and examines the women who are hanging on by their fingernails." - Chicago Tribune


"A witty, hilarious and tragic play that will have you both holding your sides with laughter and holding your breath with emotion. All five of this entirely female cast had moments that made you laugh and made you want to cry." Entertaining Chicago