Dance in Review

Writers Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma, opens its 2017/18 season with the World Premiere of TREVOR the musical. The production is directed by Marc Bruni (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway), with book and lyrics by Dan Collins, music by Julianne Wick Davis, music direction by Matt Deitchman, orchestrations by Greg Pliska and choreography by Josh Prince, by special arrangement with U Rock Theatricals. TREVOR the musical runs August 9 – September 17, 2017 in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. 
 
Tickets for TREVOR the musical are currently on sale. Subscriptions and individual tickets, priced $35-$80, may be purchased online at www.writerstheatre.org, by phone at 847-242-6000, or in person at the box office, 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe.
 
Meet Trevor, a 13-year-old boy in 1981 whose vibrant imagination drives a turbulent journey of self-discovery. As he deals with adolescence and all that goes with it, Trevor begins to explore what it means to be himself, influenced by his friends, parents . . . and Diana Ross.
 
Based on the story that inspired the Academy Award-winning film, the charity and the national movement, TREVOR the musical is a coming-of-age story about identity, emerging sexuality and the struggles of growing up in a world that may not be ready for you. This world premiere musical is directed by Marc Bruni, who helmed the Tony Award-winning production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway.
 
The Trevor Project was created as a result of the Academy Award-winning film that also inspired TREVOR the musical. The Trevor Project is the nation’s only accredited crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization focused on saving young LGBTQ lives. www.TheTrevorProject.org.
 
"TREVOR the musical represents an important step in the evolution of Writers Theatre," said Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. "This ambitious new musical, which we are producing in association with U Rock Theatricals, takes our literary development initiative into a whole new arena. Director Marc Bruni has assembled a superb team of local and national artists. He brings his sophisticated ability to develop new work to the table, along with his trademark gifts for precision in dramaturgy and creating a nurturing and joyous process. Based on Peggy Rajski's Oscar-winning film, book writer Dan Collins and composer Julianne Wick Davis will transport us all back to our adolescence, and into a world of heartache, hilarity and humanism. This is an important story to share and an important time to tell it.
 
The cast includes: Nathaniel Braga (Ensemble), Ariana Burks (Ensemble), Declan Desmond (Pinky), Timothy Eidman (Ensemble), Sophie Grimm (Mom/Mrs. Kerr), Maya Lou Hlava (Frannie), Isabel Kaegi (Ensemble), Eloise Lushina (Mary), Carly Meyer (Ensemble), Jhardon DiShon Milton (Jack), Justin O’Brien (Ensemble), Reilly Oh (Jason), Jerome Riley, Jr. (Ensemble), Salisha Thomas (Diana Ross), Eli Tokash (Trevor), Matthew Uzarraga (Walter), Tori Whaples (Cathy), Graydon Peter Yosowitz (Trevor) and Jarrod Zimmerman (Dad/Father Joe/Others).
 
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Dan Collins (Book and Lyrics) wrote book and lyrics with composer Julianne Wick Davis for Southern Comfort, which was produced by the Public Theater in Spring 2016 following productions at Barrington Stage and Cap21 (NY Times and Time Out Critics Pick), and development support at the NAMT Festival of New Musicals and Playwrights Horizons. For his work on Southern Comfort, Dan received the Jonathan Larson Award and GLADD Media award. Other projects include Wood (starring Tony Award © Winner Cady Huffman), TREVOR the musical (currently in development with U Rock Theatricals and director Marc Bruni), based on the Academy Award winning film of the same name, and When We Met (The Eugene O’Neill National Musical Theater Conference; CAP 21 Theatre Company). Dan was selected along with Wick Davis as a Dramatist Guild Fellow as well as for TheatreWorks Palo Alto's Writer's Retreat. He received his M.F.A in Musical Theater Writing at Tisch School of the Arts, NYU and his B.F.A. in Playwriting at The Theatre School of DePaul University.
 
Julianne Wick Davis (Music) is a composer/lyricist who wrote music for Southern Comfort (book & lyrics by Dan Collins), which was produced by the Public Theater in Spring 2016 following productions at Barrington Stage and Cap21 (NY Times and Time Out Critics Pick), and development support at the NAMT Festival of New Musicals and Playwrights Horizons. For her work on Southern Comfort, Julianne received the Jonathan Larson Award and GLADD Media award. Julianne wrote music and lyrics for When We Met with Dan Collins (book), which was developed at the O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference, the York NEO Development Series and had a developmental production at CAP21 in 2014. She is currently writing music for TREVOR the musical (Collins, book & lyrics) based on the Oscar-winning film short for U Rock Theatricals, as well as writing music and lyrics for a song cycle based on Jon Crispin’s photographs of the Willard Asylum Suitcases. She is a York Theatre’s NEO 9 emerging writer, a Dramatist Guild Fellow, and a 2015 Sundance Fellow at UCross. Julianne has an MFA from NYU’s Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.
 
Greg Pliska (Orchestrations) is a composer, conductor and orchestrator who diverse career includes award-winning work in theater, film, television and other media. His recent orchestration work includes new themes for CBS Evening News, IMAX, HBO Feature Presentation and Hulu, along with the films The Infiltrator (featuring Bryan Cranston), Manhattan Nocturne (featuring Adrien Brody), Beethoven’s Treasure Tail, The Little Rascals Save the Day, The Wildest Dream and the BAFTA-winning documentary Flying Monsters 3D. He previously co-orchestrated (with Michael Starobin) Julianne Wick Davis' musical When We Met. Greg’s compositions include music for the Broadway play Sylvia and Shakespeare in the Park productions of Twelfth Night, Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It (co-composed with Steve Martin, Drama Desk nomination). He contributed music and orchestration to the BAFTA-winning TV series Life, along with other Discovery Channel and National Geographic programs and several short films. His off-Broadway scores include The Government Inspector, School for Scandal, Vigil, The Window Man, Ice Island, Oy!, and Pericles. He is composer of the theme music for Audible’s podcasts Presidents are People Too and Authorized. He wrote an opera with David Ives, The Secret Garden, and is currently developing a new piece on the life of labor leader Walter Reuther. Greg was the music director for the Tony-winning play War Horse (as well as the Toronto and North American tour productions), for which he also won a web award for Best Musical Direction of a Play. He has conducted off-Broadway and regionally, including the national tour of Jekyll and Hyde, and acclaimed New York productions of Tintypes, The Portable Pioneer and Prairie Show, and Michael Gordon’s Chaos.
 
As an educator, Greg is a frequent festival artistic director and workshop leader for the International Schools Theater Association, which has brought him to more than 35 countries to date. He is a former faculty member of the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at New York University, and a teaching artist for the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan School of Music and the national school reform initiative Different Ways of Knowing. He helped developed the highly acclaimed Creating Original Opera program for the Met, as well as curriculum for schools in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Chicago and Washington, DC, through the organization Arts for Anyone. Greg was a recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Grants for Young Composers and a Fellow at the Sundance Documentary Composers Lab. He has served on the Board of the Society of Composers and Lyricists for two years, and is the chair of the organization’s New York chapter.
 
In his other life, Greg creates puzzle hunts for corporate and private clients, including two events per year at New York resort Mohonk Mountain House. He is a contributor and puzzle guru for NPR’s Ask Me Another, and a commentator and competitor for Will Shortz’s annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Greg grew up in California and lives in Manhattan with his wife, Jessica, and two children, Margot and Nicholas.
 
Marc Bruni (Director) is currently represented on Broadway and the West End by Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, winner of two 2014 Tony Awards and currently on National Tour. Upcoming: Roman Holiday (Golden Gate Theatre), TREVOR the musical (Writers Theatre). Off Broadway: The Explorers Club (MTC), Old Jews Telling Jokes (NY and Chicago, Jeff Award Nomination). Other directing credits include Other People’s Money (Long Wharf), Presto Change-O (Barrington Stage), Paint Your Wagon (Encores!), The Sound of Music (Chicago Lyric Opera), Pipe Dream (Encores!), Fanny (Encores!), Ordinary Days (Roundabout), In the Mood (Berkshire Theatre Festival), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Paper Mill/Philadelphia Theatre Company), Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Paper Mill), Such Good Friends (NYMF Directing Award), High Spirits (York Mufti), Glimpses of the Moon (Oak Room) and 7 shows for the St. Louis MUNY: My Fair Lady, The Music Man, Sound of Music (Kevin Kline Nominations), Legally Blonde, My One and Only, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. He has been associated with Walter Bobbie, Kathleen Marshall, Jerry Mitchell, Casey Nicholaw, and Jerry Zaks on 15 Broadway shows including The Book of Mormon, Nice Work if You Can Get It, Anything Goes, Legally Blonde, The Pajama Game, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Sweet Charity, High Fidelity.
 
Matt Deitchman (Music Director) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously served as the conductor for Parade, and understudied for The Hunter and The Bear. Deitchman is a Chicago based actor, composer, and music director whose work can also be seen in She Loves Me (Marriott Theater) and Ragtime (Griffin Theater). Other recent Chicago music/acting credits include Tug of War, Road Show, Murder For Two (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Spring Awakening, October Sky (Marriott Theater), Sweeney Todd, The Who’s Tommy (Paramount Theater), Adding Machine, Into The Woods (The Hypocrites), Spelling Bee (Drury Lane Oakbrook), The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes (Mercury Theater) and Wonderland (Chicago Children’s Theatre). He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s musical theater department. mattdeitchman.com
 
Josh Prince (Choreographer)most recently finished choreographing the new hit Broadway show, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which was nominated for a Tony in 2013. For his work on Beautiful, he was nominated for the Fred and Adele Astaire Award and played in London’s West End and on a National US Tour. Josh was part of the creative team of the Tony nominated Shrek, The Musical, which opened on Broadway at the Broadway Theater in 2009 and went on to tour the US and play in London’s West End at the Theater Royal Drury Lane. For his choreography in Shrek, The Musical he received an Outer Critics Circle Nomination. Since then, he has had the pleasure of working at Carnegie Hall (The Jerry Springer Opera, starring Harvey Keitel), Lincoln Center (Camelot, starring Gabriel Byrne – PBS), The Kennedy Center (Spring Gala, hosted by Liza Minelli; Latino Inaugural Celebration in 2013 with Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno), Town Hall (All Singing All Dancing, co-director), The Brooklyn Academy of Music (The Bridge Project 2009/10, directed by Sam Mendes), and The New Group (The Kid; Bunty Berman Presents). In London, he has worked at The Old Vic (The Bridge Project), The Royal Festival Hall (Singin’ In The Rain) and The Royal Albert Hall (My Fair Lady, Chor.; BBC Prom 59 starring Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane. Dir./chor.)
 
Ariana Burks (Ensemble) makes her Writers Theatre debut. Film credits include Chicago Med, Chicago Fire (NBC), The Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show (2011 Emmy nomination) and PrankStars (Disney). Theatre credits include Clara in The Nutcracker (The House Theatre of Chicago), Marjan in The Compass (Steppenwolf Theatre), Little Inez in Hairspray (Paramount Theatre), Alice in Wonderland: Alice's Rock and Roll Adventure (Chicago Children's Theatre), Emma in The Black & White Ball (FWD Theatre Project), Elf in Rudolph (Broadway Playhouse), Belinda/Fan in A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre) and Little Inez in Hairspray (Drury Lane Oakbrook).
 
Nathaniel Braga (Ensemble) Chicago credits include Shakespeare in Love (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Wonderful Town (Goodman Theatre), M. Butterfly (Court Theatre), Sweet Charity, The King and I (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Mamma Mia and The Producers (Marriott Theatre). New York credits include Turandot (The Metropolitan Opera), New York Spring Spectacular (Radio City Music Hall), It's a Bird...It’s a Plane…It’s Superman (City Center Encores!) and the dance lab of The SpongeBob Musical. Regional Theaters include Guthrie Theater, Theater Under The Stars, North Shore Music Theater, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Maltz Jupiter Theater (Carbonell Award nominee), The Wells-Metz at IU, Asolo Theater, as well as two seasons at The Muny in St. Louis. He appeared in HMS Pinafore as part of PBS’ Fall Arts Festival. He is a Minnesota State Gymnastics Champion, and plays the violin professionally.
 
Declan Desmond (Pinky) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Declan has had the honor of working with The Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company and The Gift Theatre. He has also had the good fortune to study voice at Northwestern University and the Merit School of Music. In his free time, he studies violin and piano.
 
Timothy Eidman (Ensemble, Dance Captain) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Chicago credits include Mary Poppins, The Bardy Bunch and The Producers (Mercury Theater Chicago). Other credits include Joseph… DreamcoatDisney’s Aladdin, Dreamgirls, Pirates! or Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder’d (The Muny), Oklahoma! and The Addams Family (Tibbits Opera House). Timothy holds a B.A. in Dance and Theatre from Loyola University Chicago, and is a recent alum of The School at Jacob’s Pillow where he studied under the direction of Chet Walker.
 
Sophie Grimm (Mom/Mrs. Kerr) makes her Writers Theatre debut. Originally a Twin Cities performer (Ellsworth, WI) alongside her family, Colleen Raye, Trey, Jennifer and Reed Grimm, Sophie is now a Chicago-based vocalist and actor, with credits including Desdemona in the critically acclaimed Othello: The Remix (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Les Miserables (Paramount Theatre), Frederick (Chicago Children's Theatre), The Sound of Music (Drury Lane Oakbrook) and I Love Lucy: Live! (Broadway Playhouse), as well as across the country in jazz, cabaret and concert settings. Teaching and assisting are also passions of Sophie and she enjoys making them a part of daily life.
 
Maya Lou Hlava (Frannie) makes her Writers Theatre debut. Other Chicago credits include The Nether (A Red Orchid Theatre), White Christmas and Bye Bye Birdie (Drury Lane Theater), Jake's Women (Spartan Theatre Company), The Secret Garden (Court Theatre), The Talking Cure (Idle Muse Theatre Company), Jane Eyre (Lifeline Theatre), and The Wheel (Steppenwolf Theatre). Maya is also a principal voice over artist for Disney’s World of English and was seen in the film The Life of Penny Cyclone within the US Premiere of Ride the Cyclone (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). Maya studies voice with Roberta Duchak, dance with Matt Crowle, and on camera at Vagabond School of the Arts. 
 
Isabel Kaegi (Ensemble)makes her Writers Theatre debut. Isabel was recently seen as The Narrator in Winnie the Pooh (Ravinia Festival) and Debbie in Billy Elliot (Highland Park Players). Additional credits include Wednesday in The Addams Family (Palatine High School), Cinderella in Into the Woods Jr. and Ugly Duckling in Shrek The Musical (The Performer's School), Annie in Annie, Chip in Beauty and the Beast, Little Fiona in Shrek The Musical and Ladybug in James and the Giant Peach. She trained with The Performer’s School and is a member of the International Thespian Society. 
 
Eloise Lushina (Mary) makes her Writers Theatre debut. Chicago credits include Mary Beth in A Christmas Story, Jane Banks in Mary Poppins (Paramount Theatre), Carrie Nawlins in Bedknobs and Broomsticks workshop (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). Other stage credits include Young Bonnie in Bonnie & Clyde , Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, (Wilmette Theater/Actor’s Training Center), Children’s Chorus in Dead Man Walking (Cahn Auditorium, Northwestern University), Alice in Through the Looking Glass and Young Elizabeth Lavenza in Frankenstein (Mudlark Theater). Film credits include lead roles in Addicted, Break My Bones, Happy Snow Day Franny, Graybeard and Free Man. Eloise is a freshman at Evanston Township High School.
 
Carly Meyer (Ensemble) makes her Writers Theatre debut. A sophomore at Glenbrook North High School, Carly was recently named best actress by Broadway in Chicago at the Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards for her role as Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof. This earned her the honor of performing at the Jimmy Awards in New York. Some of her other favorite roles include Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors (Glenbrook North High School) Fiona in Shrek The Musical (The Performer's School), Joanne in Godspell (Actor's Training Center), Mary in Secret Garden (Lake Forest Theatre) and Bare: A Pop Opera (Another Door Theatre Project). Carly was a featured vocal performer for KIDZ ROC at the Clay Cooper Theater in Branson, Missouri and fan favorite winner of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent. In addition, she received the top honor in Sinfonietta Bel Canto Voice. Carly has been privately studying musical theatre, classical repertoire, and dance since the age of seven.
 
Jhardon DiShon Milton (Jack) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Credits include Bye Bye Birdie and Monty in Saturday Night Fever at (Drury Lane Oakbrook), La Cage aux Folles and Madagascar (Marriott Theatre) and Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors (Tantrum Theatre Ohio). He’s also been seen in various productions at Black Ensemble Theatre and Theatre at the Center.
 
Justin O'Brien (Ensemble) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Previous credits include Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Rapunzel's Prince in Into the Woods (Encore Music Academy), Ensemble in Anything GoesCinderella, Evita (CGHS), 42nd Street (Fremont St. Theater Co.) and Guys and Dolls (Music On Stage). He has also been seen with Judith Svalander Dance Theatre performing leading roles in the ballets The Nutcracker and Cinderella and Centennial Dances. Justin is currently a Senior at Cary Grove High School and studies dance at Judith Svalander School of Ballet.
 
Reilly Oh (Jason/Ensemble) makes his Writers Theatre debut. A rising sophomore at New Trier High School, some of Reilly's favorite roles include Danny in Grease (New Trier High School), Josh in Big: The Musical, Judas in Godspell (Actors Training Center) and Donkey in Shrek The Musical (Children's Theatre of Winnetka).
 
Jerome Riley, Jr. (Ensemble) is a queer artist originally from St. Louis, where he found his passion for… thrifting! He is a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where he received his B.F.A. in Musical Theatre with a Minor in Women & Gender Studies. Jerome was recently seen as Roy Wright in The Scottsboro Boys (Porchlight Music Theatre). He is also a part of a queer performance group: The Chanel’s, who can be seen every second Wednesday of the month at DURO, at Berlin Nightclub.
 
Eli Tokash (Trevor) makes his Writers Theatre debut. He has performed on Broadway as Peter Llewelyn Davies in Finding Neverland and Theo in Pippin. He was also seen across the country in the national tours of Finding Neverland as Peter Llewelyn Davies, in A Christmas Story as Ralphie Parker and in Mary Poppins as Michael Banks. Television credits include Limitless (CBS), I Love You... But I Lied (Lifetime) and Forever (ABC). He can be seen in the feature films Blood Ties, and the upcoming Benji the Dove. One of his proudest moments was performing for First Lady Michelle Obama in Broadway at the White House.
 
Salisha Thomas (Diana Ross) makes her Writers Theatre debut. California native and Miss California World 2016. Credits include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, principal vocalist for Disney. Regional credits include Deena Jones in Dreamgirls, TiMoune in Once On This Island, Martha in Spring Awakening, Dynamite in Hairspray, to name a few. BA Theatre from Cal State Fullerton.
 
Matthew Uzarraga (Walter) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Chicago area credits include John Webster in Shakespeare in Love, Flounder in The Little Mermaid, Young Shrek/Baby Bear in Shrek the Musical (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Prince Chulalongkorn in The King and I (Lyric Opera of Chicago and Marriott Theatre), Gavroche in Les Misérables, Workhouse Boy/Pick Pocket in Oliver! (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Schwartz in A Christmas Story the Musical and Children’s Chorus in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Paramount Theatre). Commercial and industrial credits include Wisconsin Dells Tourism, Chrysler, Kyle Dine & Friends allergy awareness DVD, Accenture, Pearson Education, Toys R Us, Shout, Incredible Islands and Cap Gun Collective. His voiceover work is featured in the animated short film Moose. He has trained at Vagabond School of the Arts, The Performer’s School, Kaneland Arts Initiative, Xplore Tumbling and Gymnastics and tap with Matt Crowle.
 
Tori Whaples (Cathy) makes her Writers Theatre debut. Regional theatre credits include Into the Woods (Woodstock Opera House), Annie (Steps P.A.C), Far from Heaven (Porchlight Music Theatre) and The Secret Garden (Court Theatre). Tori is a recent 8th grade graduate and is ready to start her exciting journey as high school freshman at Grayslake Central High School. She is a student at the Steps Performing Arts Center and would like to thank Mr. Phil, her voice teacher who challenges her to always be her best. She also loves to perform with her friends at the RLAPD Performing Arts Center. Thanks to all of her family and friends who make time to come see her perform and to Paonessa Talent.
 
Graydon Peter Yosowitz (Trevor) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Off-Broadway credits include The Light Years (The Debate Society/Playwrights Horizons), You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown (York Theatre), The Gold (Pearl Theatre), The Odyssey (The Public/Delacorte Theatre). Concert series performances include Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (NY Pops/Carnegie Hall), Wall to Wall Stephen Schwartz (Symphony Space NYC). Television credits include Nightcap (POP TV), Kevin Can Wait (CBS), The Jim Gaffigan Show (TV Land).
 
Jarrod Zimmerman (Dad/Father Joe/Others) returns toWriters Theatre, where he previously appeared in Days Like Today and Sweet Charity. Chicago credits include A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), Shakespeare in the Parks: The Taming of the Shrew, The Emperor’s New Clothes (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Gypsy (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Merrily We Roll Along (The Music Theatre Company), The Music Man, Little Women, Into the Woods (Marriott Theatre), The Boys Are Coming Home (AMTP) and The Spitfire Grill (Provision Theater). Regional credits include A Minister's Wife (San Jose Repertory Theatre), 1776 (American Conservatory Theatre and Asolo Repertory Theatre), A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine (Peninsula Players), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Totem Pole Playhouse), Big! the musical, Proof, The Mousetrap, Little Women and Arsenic and Old Lace (Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre). Television credits include Boss (Starz). Zimmerman is a graduate of Northwestern University.
 
 
AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT
Accessible Performances
ASL-Interpreted performance: Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Open-Captioned performance: Friday, September 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm
 
Sunday Spotlight—Sunday, September 3, 2017
Are you curious about the world that surrounds your favorite plays? Sunday Spotlight offers access to the finest speakers, scholars and cultural leaders. This one-hour event extends the conversation on our stages by featuring an expert in an area connected to the play. Seating is limited. RSVP is required. Save the date!
 
The Making of… Series—Monday, September 11, 2017 at 6:30 pm
Writers Theatre will once again host its popular The Making of… Series, providing insight into a different aspect of creating the productions seen on our stages. Enjoy a short and lively presentation by our actors, designers or other experts who will walk you through the process of preparing for and executing a production. The Making of… events are FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited. RSVP is required.
 
Post Show Conversation: The Word
Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding previews and extensions) for a 15-minute discussion of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
 
Post Show Conversation: The Artist
Join us after every Wednesday evening performance (excluding previews and extensions) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
 
Pre-Show Conversation: Up Close
Join us at 6:45pm before every Thursday evening performance (excluding previews and extensions) for a 15-minute primer on the context and content of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
 
For more information about Writers Theatre Audience Enrichment programs visit writerstheatre.org/events.
 
RIDE METRA TO WRITERS THEATRE
In an effort to promote taking public transit to the Theatre, Writers Theatre launched a new promotion in 2013. Any audience member who purchases a ticket to a Writers Theatre production and rides Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to the Theatre may snap a photo of themselves on the train and post it to their Facebook or Instagram page or their Twitter feed with a tag of @WritersTheatre and #[the title of the show], and upon showing the post at the Writers Theatre Box Office, receive $5 in cash to put toward the cost of your fare as a thank you for going green.
 
This promotion is available for a limited time only, and may end without warning. Ticket must have been paid for in advance. Not valid on comp tickets. More information available at writerstheatre.org/metra
 
WRITERS THEATRE PARTNERS
Writers Theatre is pleased to welcome back BMO Harris Bank as the 2017/18 Season Sponsor, and ComEd as the Official Lighting Sponsor of the 2017/18 Season. The Major Corporate Sponsor for TREVOR the musical is Northern Trust. The Major Production Sponsor is Mary Pat Studdert. Additional support for TREVOR the musical is provided by the Director’s Society Sponsors.
 
 
ABOUT WRITERS THEATRE
For 25 years, Writers Theatre has captivated Chicagoland audiences with inventive interpretations of classic work, a bold approach to contemporary theatre and a dedication to creating the most intimate theatrical experience possible.
 
Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has grown to become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence, being called “America’s No. 1 theatre company” by The Wall Street Journal. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of more than 60,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry—providing the finest interpretations of both classic and contemporary theatre in its two intensely intimate venues. 
 
In February 2016, Writers Theatre opened a new, state-of-the-art facility. This established the company's first permanent home—a new theatre center in downtown Glencoe, designed by the award-winning, internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by Founder and Design Principal Jeanne Gang, FAIA, in collaboration with Theatre Consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander. The new facility has allowed the Theatre to continue to grow to accommodate its audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy. The new facility resonates with and complements the Theatre’s neighboring Glencoe community, adding tremendous value to Chicagoland and helping to establish the North Shore as a premier cultural destination.
 
Find Writers Theatre on Facebook at Facebook.com/WritersTheatre or follow @WritersTheatre on Twitter. For more information, visit www.writerstheatre.org.
 
 
Title:                             TREVOR the musical
Book and Lyrics by:        Dan Collins
Music by:                       Julianne Wick Davis
Based on the Academy Award-winning film Trevor
Orchestrations by:          Greg Pliska
Music Direction by:         Matt Deitchman
Choreography by:           Josh Prince
Directed by:                   Marc Bruni       
 
Featuring:                        Nathaniel Braga, Ariana Burks, Declan Desmond, Timothy Eidman, Sophie Grimm, Maya Lou Hlava, Isabel Kaegi, Eloise Lushina, Carly Meyer, Jhardon DiShon Milton, Justin O’Brien, Reilly Oh, Jerome Riley, Jr., Salisha Thomas, Eli Tokash, Matthew Uzarraga, Tori Whaples, Graydon Peter Yosowitz and Jarrod Zimmerman.
 
Dates:                              First performance: Wednesday, August 9, 2017

                                         Closing performance: September 17, 2017
 
Schedule:                         Tuesdays – Fridays: 7:30pm
                                         (with select 3:00pm Wednesday matinees)
                                         Saturdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm
                                       Sundays:2:00pm and 6:00pm
 
Location:                           The Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
             
              Prices:                             Prices for all performances range from $35 - $80. Purchase early for best prices                                 
             
Box Office:                       The Box Office is located at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe;847-242-6000; www.writerstheatre.org
 
 
Notes of Interest:
TREVOR the musical is based on the Academy Award-winning short film. The film can be seen on YouTube, or by clicking here.
 
Director Marc Bruni and choreographer Josh Prince are fresh from the Tony Award-winning production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway, which has subsequently toured North America, London and an upcoming tour launching this fall in Australia.
 
Dan Collins (book and lyrics) and Julianne Wick Davis (music) worked together on Southern Comfort, which was produced by the Public Theater in Spring 2016 following productions at Barrington Stage and Cap21 (NY Times and Time Out Critics Pick), and development support at the NAMT Festival of New Musicals and Playwrights Horizons. Southern Comfort received the Jonathan Larson Award and GLAAD Media award. They wrote music and lyrics for When We Met, which was developed at the O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference, the York NEO Development Series and had a developmental production at CAP21 in 2014.
 
The film inspired the creation of The Trevor Project, the nation’s only accredited crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization focused on saving young LGBTQ lives. www.TheTrevorProject.org.
 
According to The Trevor Project "suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24; the rate of suicide attempts is 4 times greater for LGB youth and 2 times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth. Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers.”
 
Writers is partnering with U Rock Theatricals, a group of young producers, who aim to create a new generation of intelligent and relevant musicals, ultimately for Broadway audiences. 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Following a sell-out performance in May, CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY LIVE returns for one night only on Friday, June 23 at 10 pm at The Greenhouse Theater Center (Downstairs Mainstage), 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago.  
 
The irreverent night of improv comedy inspired by the popular and politically incorrect party game “Cards Against Humanity” will be co-hosted by Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s Wait, Wait... Don’t Tell Me and the game’s co-founder Max Temkin. After audience members pitch their ideas, the best suggestions will be acted out by the Cards Against Humanity writers and a team of improvisers. The worst suggestions will be mercilessly ridiculed.
 
Tickets, priced at $10 are currently available at greenhousetheater.org, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the ACLU. 18+ recommended.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Sideshow Theatre Company is pleased to announce its 2017-18 Season, launching next spring with the Chicago premiere of Mia Chung’s absurdly inventive smash-hit YOU FOR ME FOR YOU, directed by artistic associate Elly Green. The season concludes next summer with the world premiere of Kristiana Rae Colón’s spectacular and fearless indictment TILIKUM, directed by Lili-Anne Brown.
 
Sideshow Theatre’s Company’s 2017-18 Season will be presented at its resident home, Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Tickets will go on sale at a later date. For additional information, visit sideshowtheatre.org.
 
Comments Sideshow Artistic Director Jonathan L. Green, "We are living in an unprecedented time in the United States and in Chicago – every day feels like a state of emergency. In our eleventh season, Sideshow is focusing on the issues over which we are most divided and amplifying the stories that might allow us to see each other more fully. In You for Me for You and Tilikum, we are telling stories of enemies of the state, displacement, violence, exile and rebellion."
 
Sideshow’s 2017-18 Season will also include “The Freshness Initiative,” the company’s commissioning and new play development program, now in its fourth year (dates to be announced) and the wildly-popular semi-annual event CLLAW (Chicago League of Lady Arms Wrestlers). The next CLLAW match will be held Saturday, July 29 at Logan Square Auditorium.  For more information, visit cllaw.org.
 
Sideshow Theatre Company’s 2017-18 Season:

March 4 - April 8, 2018
YOU FOR ME FOR YOU – Chicago Premiere!
By Mia Chung 
Directed by artistic associate Elly Green 
Press opening: Thursday, March 8, 2018 
 
Two North Korean sisters plan an elaborate escape from the “Best Nation in the World,” only to be separated at the border. Now in two strange and separate worlds filled with outrageous characters, they must navigate barriers of language and bureaucracy, reckon with the ways that culture and country can shape us, and discover that survival requires sacrifice. Playwright Mia Chung weaves myth and striking imagery into a deeply affecting and surprisingly funny adventure, portraying the endless lengths to which two sisters will go to find one another again.
 
June 22 - July 29, 2018
TILIKUM – World Premiere!
By Kristiana Rae Colón 
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown 
Press opening: Thursday, June 28, 2018
 
Tilikum was a king, and the oceans of the world were his. Now, he is a captive in a marine amusement park, doomed to live as an opportunity for profit. Alone behind bars he forgets the feel of freedom, but when fellow prisoners ignite the fires of his memory, he starts down a path that threatens to consume everything. Ripped from the headlines, Kristiana Rae Colón’s Tilikum explores captivity, savagery and rebellion in a vital and visceral blend of theatre, drumming and dance. Poetic and lyrical, Tilikum calls out the power structures – both corporate and human – that ensure continued oppression, and the complicity of those willing to stand by and do nothing. 
 
About the Playwrights:
 
Mia Chung’s (You For Me For You) plays include You For Me For You, Catch as Catch Can and This Exquisite Corpse. She recently received the Stavis Playwright Award, the Frederick Loewe Award in Music-Theatre, and a Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellowship. You For Me For You had a UK premiere at The Royal Court Theatre, a U.S. premiere at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, and multiple productions around the U.S., including Company One (Boston), Crowded Fire Theater (San Francisco), InterAct (Philadelphia), Mu Performing Arts/Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis), Portland Playhouse (Oregon); the play is published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. In 2018, the play will run in Chicago, Michigan, and upstate NY. Mia’s work has been supported by awards, commissions, fellowships, residencies and workshops, including BAPF, Berkeley Rep Ground Floor, Blue Mountain Center, Civilians’ R&D Group, Hedgebrook, Huntington Theatre, Icicle Creek, Inkwell, JAW, LAByrinth, Ma-Yi Writers Lab, NEA, Playwrights Realm, RISCA, South Coast Rep, Southern Rep, Stella Adler Studio, and TCG. During the coming year, she will develop work with the support of the Orchard Project, P73, NYTW and the Playwrights’ Center. She is a New Dramatist.
 
Kristiana Rae Colón (Tilikum) is a poet, playwright, actor, educator, Cave Canem Fellow and executive director of the #LetUsBreathe Collective. Her play Octagon, winner of Arizona Theater Company's 2014 National Latino Playwriting Award and Polarity Ensemble Theater's Dionysos Festival of New Work, had its world premiere at the Arcola Theater in London in September 2015. Her work was featured in Victory Gardens' 2014 Ignition Festival. In 2013, she toured the UK with her collection of poems promised instruments published by Northwestern University Press. In autumn 2012, she opened her one-woman show Cry Wolf at Teatro Luna in Chicago while her play but i cd only whisper had its world premiere at the Arcola Theater in London and American premiere in 2016 at The Flea in New York. Kristiana is a part of the Goodman Theatre's Playwrights Unit, a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and one half of the brother/sister hip-hop duo April Fools. She appeared on the fifth season of HBO's “Def Poetry Jam.”
 
About the Directors:
 
Elly Green (You for Me for You) is a freelance director, whose previous work with Sideshow includes the co-world premiere of Hansol Jung’s No More Sad Things and a Freshness Initiative workshop series of Janet Burroway’s Boomerang. She recently directed The Distance by Deborah Bruce for Haven Theatre and After Miss Julie by Patrick Marber for Strawdog Theatre. Other Chicago credits include: The Woman Before (Trap Door), Rabbit (Stage Left – Jeff nominated), Happy (Redtwist), Unwilling and Hostile Instruments (Theatre Seven) and The Tomkat Project (Playground Theatre & NY Fringe). Elly was assistant director on Henry V (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and Proof (Court Theatre). She is an artistic associate with Stage Left theatre and a reader for Steppenwolf theatre. Elly originally trained in London on the MFA in Theatre Directing from Birkbeck College. Her UK directing credits include: Our Country’s Good, My Balloon Beats Your Astronaut, Beyond Therapy, About Tommy, Copenhagen, Skylight, The Beach and The Zoo Story. ellygreendirector.com.
 
Lili-Anne Brown (Tilikum) is a native Chicagoan who works as a director, actor and educator, and has performed in, directed and produced many award-winning shows, both local and regional. She received the Joseph Jefferson Award in 2014 for her direction of Ahrens & Flaherty’s Dessa Rose, and a BTA Award in 2011 for her direction of Passing Strange. She is the former Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago, an Artistic Associate of Timber Lake Playhouse and a graduate of Northwestern University and St. Ignatius College Prep. She is a member of Actors’ Equity, SAG-AFTRA, and an Associate of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC).
 
About Sideshow Theatre Company:
It is the mission of Sideshow Theatre Company to mine the collective unconscious of the world we live in with limitless curiosity, drawing inspiration from the familiar stories, memories and images we all share to spark new conversation and bring our audiences together as adventurers in a communal experience of exploration.
 
From its first production, 2008’s Dante Dies!! (and then things get weird) to its Jeff Award-winning productions of Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Idomeneus (named one of the best plays of 2012 by Time Out Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times) and Elizabeth Meriwether's runaway robotic hit Heddatron at Steppenwolf Theatre, to the recent re-mount of its smash hit Stupid F##king Bird, Sideshow has consistently produced engaging, transcendent works across Chicago. Sideshow continues its multi-year residency at Victory Gardens in the historic Biograph Theater in the 2017/18 season.
 
Sideshow also produces the Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLLAW), a wildly popular interactive fundraising event that benefits Sideshow Theatre Company and other local charities. CLLAW has been featured in local and national press, including The Washington Post, Reuters, Penthouse Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times and on WGN Morning News, ABC 7’s Windy City Live and CBS 2. The next CLLAW will be held Saturday, July 29 at Logan Square Auditorium. For more information about CLLAW, visit cllaw.org.
 
For additional information on Sideshow Theatre Company, visit sideshowtheatre.org.
 

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre


Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series is excited to announce a surprise summer performance of Standup Shakespeare: A Concert Reading with music by Ray Leslee, book by Kenneth Welsh and words by Shakespeare, of course. This event, which is a benefit concert reading for the theatre, showcases the extraordinary talent of Steppenwolf co-founder Jeff Perry alongside Broadway legends Norm Lewis and Alice Ripley. The show will be at 6:30pm in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Tickets ($79-99) go on sale Friday, June 23 at 11am through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.


Standup Shakespeare sets the timeless language of the Bard to the exciting rhythms of jazz, baroque, samba and gospel-rock original music. A fractured love story is performed by a modern-day Fool (Steppenwolf co-founder Jeff Perry) and Broadway legends Norm Lewis (The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables) and Alice Ripley (Next to Normal – Tony Award for Best Actress) in this concert reading. Accompanying the cast are Marshall Coid (Violin), Dave Dunaway (Bass), Ray Leslee (Piano) and Josh Plotner (Woodwinds).


Jeff Perry is a co-founder of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. He served as Steppenwolf Artistic Director from 1982 to 1985 and 1986 to 1987 and was integral to the founding of The School at Steppenwolf, where he continues to teach and direct. Jeff's many acting credits at Steppenwolf include August: Osage County (also Broadway and London), Balm in Gilead (also Off-Broadway), The Time of Your Life (also Seattle, San Francisco), Picasso at the Lapin Agile (World Premiere), The Grapes of Wrath (also Broadway and London), The Caretaker (also Broadway) and Streamers (also Kennedy Center). Jeff currently portrays Cyrus Beene on ABC’s Scandal and has also appeared in Nash BridgesThirtysomething and My So-Called Life.


Norm Lewis made history in May of 2014 as The Phantom of the Opera’s first African American Phantom on Broadway. He can currently be seen recurring in the new VH1 series, Daytime Divas with Vanessa Williams. His additional television credits include five PBS specials, Chicago Med, Gotham, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Younger, as well as in his recurring role as Senator Edison Davis on the hit drama Scandal, alongside Jeff Perry.  Mr. Lewis received Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle award nominations for his performance as Porgy in the Broadway production of The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess. Other Broadway credits include Sondheim on SondheimThe Little Mermaid, Les Misérables, Chicago, Amour, The Wild Party, Side Show, Miss Saigon, and The Who’s Tommy. In London’s West End he has appeared as Javert in Les Misérables and Les Misérables: The 25th Anniversary Concert, which aired on PBS. On film Mr. Lewis has appeared in Winter’s Tale, Sex and the City 2, Confidences, Preaching to the Choir, and the upcoming film, Magnum Opus. Mr. Lewis’s solo debut album s called “This is The Life.” 


Alice Ripley received the 2009 Best Actress in a Musical Tony and Helen Hayes Awards for her work in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal. She made her Broadway debut in the original cast of The Who’s Tommy, and went on to star in the original Broadway casts of Sunset Boulevard, Side Show (Tony and Drama Desk noms), James Joyce’s The Dead, and The Rocky Horror Show. She most recently played three roles in the Broadway musical, American Psycho. Ms. Ripley is also a songwriter, and she has produced three albums with her band, RIPLEY. She has starred in the feature films Muckland, SUGAR!, Bear With Us, The Way I Remember It and Isn’t It Delicious, and appeared on the small screen in Girlboss, Blue Bloods, 30 Rock, and Royal Pains


Tickets & Membership Info
Single tickets ($79-$99) go on sale Friday, June 23 at 11am at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Student Rush Tickets: a limited number of $15 student tickets are available one hour before the show. Limit 2 tickets per student; must present a valid student ID for each ticket; steppenwolf.org/students. Flex Card Memberships: Anytime Black Card Members may purchase any ticket for one credit each, and Weekday Black Card Members may purchase balcony tickets only for one credit each. For more information about FlexCard Memberships, call  Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or visit steppenwolf.org.


Visitor Information
Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N Halsted St near all forms of public transportation and is wheelchair accessible. The parking facility consists of both a covered garage ($11 cash or card) and an open-air lot, located just south of our theater at 1624 N Halsted. Valet parking service ($14 cash) is available directly in front of the main entrance at 1650 N Halsted St starting at 5pm on weeknights, 1pm on weekends and at 12 noon before Wednesday matinees. Street and lot parking are also available. For last minute questions and concerns, patrons can call the Steppenwolf Parking Hotline at (312) 335-1774.


LookOut
LookOut is Steppenwolf’s performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form, emerging artists and performance legends, quintessential Chicago companies and young aspiring ensembles, familiar Steppenwolf faces and new friends. Tickets to all LookOut programming are available through Steppenwolf Audience Services. Prices vary for each show. The LookOut Series is presented year-round and announced on an ongoing basis. John Zinn, Greta Honold and Patrick Zakem are the producers for LookOut. For more information, visit steppenwolf.org/lookout.


Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks
Connected to the main lobby, Steppenwolf’s own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks offers a warm, creative space to grab a drink, have a bite, or meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. Open daily from 8am to midnight, Front Bar serves artisanal coffee and expresso is provided by La Colombe and has a new menu for this spring and summer with food prepared by Goddess and Grocer. The menu focuses on fresh, accessible fare, featuring grab-and-go salads and sandwiches for lunch and adding shareable small plates and desserts for evening and post show service. www.front-bar.com


Sponsor Information
Major support for Steppenwolf’s expanded 2016/17 programming is provided by the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, The Negaunee Foundation and the Zell Family Foundation. Major support for Steppenwolf’s New Play Development Initiative is provided by The Davee Foundation and the Zell Family Foundation.


United Airlines is the Corporate Presenting Sponsor of Hir. Chicago Community Trust is Production Sponsor of Hir. Community partners include Lurie Children’s Hospital and Chicago Women’s Health Center.


Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble has grown to 49 members who represent a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programing includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Winner of four Jeff Awards, including Best Production, and fresh off a national tour, Moby Dick, adapted and directed by David Catlin from the book by Herman Melville, returns to the Lookingglass Theatre. The play is produced in association with The Actors Gymnasium, a circus and performing arts training center.


The story is narrated by adventurous Ishmael, a sailor en route to sign up with a whaling ship, Piqued. Ishmael (superbly played by Jamie Abelson at evening performances) first lands in an overcrowded hotel, where the innkeeper casually informs him that due to lack of room he’ll have to share a bed with another fellow. His muscular, tattoo covered bedmate, Queequeg (the absolutely splendid Anthony Fleming III), is a son of a Polynesian island king, who is on his own soul-searching journey. The two men bond and decide to board the ship together.


The rest of the show takes us onto Piqued. The ship is a testosterone infused man-cave; the sailors do what real men are supposed to do: they go out to dangerous sea to hunt down whales in order to obtain whale oil, a valuable commodity at the time. Their jaw-dropping circus-inspired acrobatic fits of agility (choreography by Sylvia Hernandez-Distasi) add to the feel of masculine energy and the everyday struggle to stay alive.


But Piqued’s disheveled and angry Captain Ahab (fiercely played by Nathan Hosner) is not interested in whale oil, he’s got a score to settle: the giant white whale named Moby Dick bit off his leg during their previous encounter. Captain has been at sea for a very long time, and in his insanity he imagines that the white whale represents all the evil in the world, and thus it must be destroyed. It’s pure all-consuming madness!


Costume designer Sully Ratke’s clever use of fabrics play games with our minds: an oversized woman’s skirt swallows drowning men, a vast piece of white silk brushing past our heads is a giant white whale.


The feminine energy in the play is very distinct. The three female actors (Kelley Abell, Mattie Hawkinson, Cordelia Dewdney) play all the female parts as well as the three Fates. They set the mood with their eerie presence and graceful movements, while their beautiful voices provide live score (sound designer/composer Rick Sims). Sometimes they are just lurking around, and other times they are the forces of nature and nature itself. One of them turns into a whale carcass being stripped of meat and drained of oil by sailors in a vaguely sexual way.


That feminine energy is of stark contrast to the mere mortal men’s struggles to survive. It’s Man vs. Nature, and nature can never be conquered. Spoiler alert: in the end, the Ill-fated ship is swallowed by the over-sized skirt. Vengeance is a two-way street.


About the venue: Lookingglass Theatre is housed in Water Tower Water Works, the historic still functioning water station built in 1869, which pumps 250,000 gallons of water to the north side of Chicago every day. Separated from the theatre space by a glass wall, it feels like a time warp, which sets the mood perfectly for this mid-19th century classic. For more information on this show or to purchase tickets, visit www.Lookingglasstheatre.org.

Published in Theatre in Review

Oriental Theatre is currently housing one of the finest productions of The King and I that you will ever see. From its colorful set to its superb cast including Jose Llana who has mastered the role of the Siamese King, this particular creation if The King and I is simply wondrous.


The scrumptiously definitive Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about a spirited, brainy educator, Anna Leonowens, who the King of Siam brings in from England to teach his seventy-seven children and many wives both the English language along with Western culture. She is strong-willed, which throws off the stubborn and egotistical king, the two struggling, at times, to see eye to eye, especially when Anna states that women are every bit as important than men.


Laura Michelle Kelly has a large Broadway resume and shines as the show’s star in Anna offering genuineness to the role while providing a strong singing voice for the part. Kelly suffuses the character with wit, strength, empathy and a suffragette fervor which climaxes in the comical and still contemporary number, “Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?”


“All to remind you of your royalty,
I find a most disgusting exhibition.
I wouldn't ask a Siamese cat
to demonstrate his loyalty
by taking this ridiculous position
how would you like it if you were a man
playing the part of a toad.
Crawling around on your elbows and knees.
Eating the dust of the road!”


Jose Llana is about as good as it gets as the King of Siam (sorry, Yul Brynner). Llana is no stranger to the role having starred in two Tony-Award winning in Lincoln Center Theater’s revival of The King and I. As I suggested previously, he is made for the role. Delightful, attractive and able to charm the house one moment while displaying great frustration the next, Llana delivers a layered performance as the King, never falling into predictable distortion. Llana’s comic timing, humorous expressions and line delivery are spot on. He is convincing so that it makes perfect sense that his character is both gaining respect for the sophisticated and mature teacher while also being confused by his rising sense of incomprehension at her grasp of political awareness that progresses the destiny of his own family and finally, his entire Kingdom.


The chemistry between Llana and Kelly is explosive.


There is a very funny, yet revealing scene where the King is insisting that Anna’s head never be higher than his own. The King asks Anna to take dictation for an important letter to a visiting dignitary and sits down on the floor. When Anna finally sits down on the floor, the King moves to recline on one elbow and so forth till they are both completely reclining on the floor. Although, it is really a nonsensical demonstration of his manly power, Llana and Kelly manage to make it a funny exchange between two people who are each unaware they are gaining a true admiration for each other.


Other stories unfold throughout the production, that of a young couple whose love is forbidden as the King’s unwilling young captive, Tuptim (Manna Nichols), who is in love with Lun Tha (Kavin Panmeechao), her secret lover. At the same time, we see a young king in the making who is clearly influenced by Anna’s Western ways.


Marcus Shane steps in as Prince Chulalongkorn, the young boy who is next in line to be king, and does a solid job conveying his character’s gradually absorption of Anna’s wisdom and life lessons most notably at the show’s end when he pronounces that “excessive bowing to the King like a toad” is now forbidden. The young prince has clearly learned a lesson in humanity from his now adored teacher and friend, Anna.


Joan Almedilla is fantastic as Lady Thiang. Her stunning rendition of “Something Wonderful” is nothing less than breathtaking. Like the other cast members in main roles, Almedilla’s voice is yet another a true treat for the ears. It’s easy to get spoiled when seeing a well-performed Rodgers and Hammerstein musical because the words for every song are so unforgettable. “We Kiss in a Shadow” is also gorgeously sung by Nichols, as the love stricken Tuptim.

“To kiss in the sunlight
and say to the sky:
"Behold and believe what you see!
Behold how my lover loves me!"
And Panmeechao, Tuptim’s lover, performs the classic “I Have Dreamed” impeccably.
“I have dreamed that your arms are lovely
I have dreamed what a joy you'll be
I have dreamed every word you whisper
When you're close, close to me
how you look in the glow of evening
I have dreamed and enjoyed the view
In these dreams, I've loved you so
That by now I think, I know
what it's like to be loved by you
I will love being loved by you”

The costumes in this piece are true to the period while the dance numbers pleasingly choreographed and a radiant set worthy of its royalty is the finishing touch.
I highly recommend this dreamy, moving and humorous evening of unadulterated theatrical joy.


Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I is being performed at the Oriental Theatre through July 2nd For more show information visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

Published in Theatre in Review
Friday, 09 June 2017 20:27

MAC Announces 2017-2018 Season

McAninch Arts Center (MAC) located at 425 Fawell Blvd. on the campus of College of DuPage is pleased to announce its 2017-2018 Season Performance Series. Subscriptions are on sale now for an exciting selection of music, dance, theater, comedy and literary events showcasing a roster of world-class artists. Single tickets go on sale in person at the MAC Box Office Saturday, Aug. 5, beginning at 10 a.m.
 
“This season we’ve put together a very exciting and culturally intriguing array of artists and ensembles for our Performance Series. Add to that the incredible new seasons our resident companies Buffalo Theatre Ensemble and New Philharmonic have created and you have nine full months of must-see events with something for everyone,” says MAC director Diana Martinez.
 
A few of the highlights of MAC’s 2017-2018 Performance Series include “Tuesdays with Morrie” starring “M*A*S*H” star Jamie Farr (Sept. 30); “LIV ON,” an exciting new project by Grammy Award-winner Olivia Newton-John, with Nashville based singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman & Canadian pop singer-songwriter Amy Sky (Oct. 14); “Take Me to the River LIVE: a Memphis Soul and Rhythm & Blues Revue” featuring Grammy Award-winners William Bell, Charlie Musselwhite and Bobby Rush (Nov. 5); a talk by PBS celebrity chef and acclaimed author Lidia Bastianich (Nov. 9), the Chicago premiere of a new show by tap dance legend Savion Glover (Nov. 26) and concerts by Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer Chris Botti (Jan. 20), “¡Cubanismo!” featuring Cuban jazz great Jesús Alemañy with his all-star orchestra (Feb. 18), and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Rosanne Cash (April 14).
 
New Philharmonic opens its 2017-2018 Season with “Mahler 5” featuring Mahler’s most famous work, (Sept. 23-24). Then, four guest vocalists and the 100 voices of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra Chorus join New Philharmonic and Maestro Muspratt for three performances of “The Best of Broadway: Rodgers & Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber” (Oct. 21 and Oct. 22). For the holidays, audiences will have the opportunity to once again enjoy Von Heidecke Chicago Festival Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” with Tchaikovsky’s beloved score performed live by New Philharmonic (Dec. 16-17). Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center alumnus Corey Crider (baritone) joins New Philharmonic for three celebratory New Year’s Eve Concert performances (Dec. 31) and January brings Giuseppe Verdi’s popular opera “La Traviata” (Jan. 27-28) starring critically acclaimed soprano Emily Birsan as Violetta. “Beethoven: Five Piano Concertos – One Pianist” New Philharmonic’s final concert of the season will be a rare opportunity to experience all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos in a single three-hour concert program (April 7-8).
 
Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s 2017-2018 three-play season will open with the Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning play “The 39 Steps,” by John Buchan and adapted by Patrick Barlow from Alfred Hitchcock’s popular film, directed by BTE ensemble member, Kurt Naebig (Sept. 7-Oct. 8). Then BTE opens 2018 with the thought provoking play “Time Stands Still” by Donald Margulies, directed by BTE artistic director Connie Canaday Howard (Feb. 1-March 4). The romantic comedy/drama “Outside Mullingar” by John Patrick Shanley, directed by Steve Scott completes the season. (May 3 - June 3). All performances take place in the Playhouse Theatre.
 
Other programming at the MAC includes the return of encore broadcasts of the critically acclaimed National Theatre Live film series, Sept 14-March 8 (see schedule attached), plus the return of the popular Global Flicks free international film series, educational SchoolStage performances for pre-school through high school age students, more than 30 College performances in music, dance and theater, seven exhibitions of visual art at the Cleve Carney Art Gallery and new this year—a series of National Geographic Live events.  Additional details will be announced at a later date.
 
Select 2017-2018 events will be accompanied by a free pre or post-performance MAC Chat, providing the opportunity to engage with artists and learn more about their work; and for many shows theatergoers can enhance their evening by adding on a “VIP Experience,” a private pre-show cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception followed by coffee and dessert at intermission. Parking for MAC events is always free.
 
Subscriptions are on sale now. To subscribe by purchasing tickets to three or more shows, call the MAC Box Office at 630.942.4000. Single tickets go on sale to the public in person at the MAC Box Office Saturday, Aug. 5 at 10 a.m.; online at AtTheMAC.org Sunday, Aug. 6 at 12 a.m..  by phone at 630.942.4000 on Sunday, Aug. 6 beginning at 12 p.m. and A chronological listing of shows follows the release.
 
In advance of the 2017-2018 season, the MAC presents its 2017 Lakeside Pavilion Free Outdoor Summer Series. Programming runs July 6-Aug. 11 and includes a Friday evening Pop Music Series, a Thursday evening Jazz Concert Series and Thursday evening Family Movie Series. For updates and more information, visit AtTheMAC.org.

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Michael Washington Brown, in association with Athenaeum Theatre Productions, present “BLACK!,” July 20 – 30, in Studio 2 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Opening night is Thursday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m. The performance schedule is Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The running time is 100 minutes including a 10-minute intermission. Tickets are $25 and available at AthenaeumTheatre.org or 773.935.6875.
 
Brown, was born in England and created “BLACK!” in 2016. The production has been included in the Asheville Fringe Festival, the FRIGID Fringe Festival in New York City and the Seattle Fringe. It will be performed at the Tempe Center for the Arts and the San Francisco Fringe Festival in September 2017.
 
In “BLACK!,” Brown inhabits an array of characters from Africa, the United States, England and Jamaica, performing each person’s individual perspective and sharing his experiences. The production highlights the nuances and life perspectives of various people who are from the Black global community.  Many stereotypes currently exist which seem to ‘mesh’ all black people and their stories together.  The truth is that there are distinct differences and very definite similarities between Black people from all walks of life.  In addition, each carries their own distorted and often exaggerated opinions about the other, which is a way to distinguish a separation, even though in truth, they are more alike than they believe. “BLACK!” uses the power of language and performance to delve into these characters to reflect on this communities’ history and their future as well as what they do and do not share of the global Black experience.
 
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share this show, its voices and a global ‘Black’ perspective with the Chicago community,” Brown said.  “Chicago is embedded in a rich history filled with a melting pot of cultures, along with its extensive support of the theatre and arts. It is my mission and purpose to share this show as far and wide as I can.  Chicago is an obvious choice in my journey…I am grateful to have the Athenaeum Theatre, supporting my debut of “BLACK!” in this vibrant and intoxicating city, ” he concluded. 
 
ABOUT MICHAEL WASHINGTON BROWN
Michael Washington Brown was born in London, England. He is the first generation born outside of his family’s direct heritage of the Caribbean (Jamaica & Barbados). In 1992 at 19, he left London for the shores of California, a place he fell in love with from his initial visit as a child at age 10. He knew even at this young age that he would ‘one day’ make America his home.
 
In 1994, he began studying scene classes in San Francisco and knew instantly what he wanted to do and be…an actor. He gradually found himself working his way up the local scene and then eventually performing in productions at: The Magic Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Marin Theatre Company and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He moved to New York City to continue his journey and landed a variety of New York City productions that began at the Ensemble Studio Theatre. Theatre has always been Brown’s passion, but deep down he always felt there was ‘more to give’. Brown wanted to tell stories that were not being told. It was at the Cherry Lane Theatre in 2012 when he saw a one-man show and was inspired beyond anything he had previously experienced. He realized in this moment what his ‘more to give’ would be: “To write and share my own stories and perspective.” Brown discovered that his love of reading had laid the foundation and allowed the ease of his own voice, to reveal itself to him. 

ABOUT ATHENAEUM THEATRE PRODUCTIONS
Athenaeum Theatre Productions, a not-for-profit 501c3 arts organization, is firmly committed to providing the Chicago non-profit performing arts community a welcoming shared space to incubate new projects and collaborations by providing high quality and below cost performance, rehearsal, office and reception space supported by a staff of theatre professionals. Founded in 1911, the Athenaeum Theatre is Chicago’s oldest, continuously operating off-loop theatre.  Home to 15 not-for-profit performing arts groups and four stages including its 984-seat main stage.
 
Michael Washington Brown, in association with Athenaeum Theatre Productions, present “BLACK!,” July 20 – 30, in Studio 2 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Opening night is Thursday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m. The performance schedule is Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The running time is 100 minutes including a 10-minute intermission. Tickets are $25 and available at AthenaeumTheatre.org or 773.935.6875.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

As soon as I saw the warm, rich lighting of a luxurious futuristic bedroom on the Space Ship Destiny lit and decorated by designers Heather Gilbert and Christopher Kriz and the set design by Arnel Sancianco, where the entire action of the play takes place, I thought this is going to be an interesting show. To the right of the set was a spaceship departure board with the names and photos of the passengers, along with their assigned room number, as they were headed to a planet three months away from Earth. The other ships had names like Fortune, Kismet, Prospect and Horizon suggesting that the people leaving earth are doing so willingly and must have enough money to do so. Smooch Medina’s spaceship flight calendar and wall projection also counts down the number of days the passengers have spent locked on this room together, which is a great tension builder as well. 

There are just three characters in the play. One a soldier who is suffering from PTSD from a previous mission in which he witnessed the killing of civilians that haunts him still in a variety of deep emotional ways. He has requested a private room because he cannot sleep well while struggling with his inner demons but somehow an attractive young woman passenger has been placed in the room with him, much to his disapproval. Ed Flynn portrays this sensitive, journal-writing soldier (previously referred to as “Grant”) who is also prone to violent mood changes and outbursts with great feeling and a sweaty intensity that is frightening at times. 

When you consider that he is locked into this “hotel room" for three full months due to a quarantine placed on certain sick members aboard the ship with a petite young female to whom he objects, it’s not difficult to imagine the strain that gradually surmounts. Janelle Villas does a wonderful job of showing the audience her fresh-faced bubbly enthusiasm while hiding a dark past that includes at least one rape, which has also left her in a state of PTSD. 


Co-directed by artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton and guest artist Jessica Thebus, the “Pilgrims” moves along quickly yet with subtle changes in the characters that seem very satisfying and real with a lot of emotional suspense and tension. We the audience wonder if these two characters will ever bond, or even reach their destination safely. We also ponder what will become of their edgy, ever-changing relationship once they are finally released from this artificial and close-quartered isolation into the general population of the new planet.  

The third character is a robot named Jasmine played with a great sense of humor and also an eerie, smiling menace by Brittany Burch. Jasmine has been programmed not only to answer all their questions and provide all their meals and cleaning services. She is also one of the older forms of “human-like robots” known for their ability to satisfy without any compunction - either member, male or female, with oral sex or intercourse if the human need arises.

The universality of two people meeting for the first time, learning about each other's baggage and foibles and being forced to overcome them in order to at least be friends if not lovers cannot be denied. This is a love story set in outer space plain and simple, even though it is suggested in the play that couples may have been placed together purposely to repopulate the new planet. 

I highly recommend this production for its unique retelling of a tale as old as time, when Fate meets Destiny and two very "human" human beings struggle to please each other while being true to their own individual dreams of the future but must in the end reveal the dark, undesirable places of their souls in order to overcome them and move into a deeper union free of mistakes or tragedies of the past.

Excellent performances and an imaginative script make Pilgrims a compelling and often humorous sci-fi love story that resonates. Pilgrims is being performed at Gift Theatre through July 30th. For more show information or to purchase tickets visit www.thegifttheatre.org.

Published in Theatre in Review

In Native Gardens, an ambitious young couple moves into a fixer-upper in an affluent DC neighborhood. Husband Pablo (Gabriel Ruiz) is a lawyer, his pregnant wife Tania (Paloma Nozicka) is working on her doctorate dissertation. Their nice and lively, albeit politically incorrect, neighbors are a defense contractor Virginia (Janet Ulrich Brooks) and her retired gardening-loving husband Frank (Patrick Clear). Shortly after moving in, Pablo has a bright idea to invite his entire law firm (all sixty people) to a barbeque in their embarrassingly unfinished yard, so the young couple gets to work. The old wire fence separating the neighbors’ properties (very nice design set by William Boles) has to go, but it soon becomes evident that Frank has been gardening on extra 23 inches of land that actually belongs to the new couple, according to the property plans.


Upon further calculations Pablo realizes that those 23 inches along the old fence translate into extra 80 sq feet of land which goes for “about $15,000 at a current market price”. Well, it’s a war then! Frank refuses to let go of his lovingly raised flowers right up against the ill-placed fence, while the young couple is on a mission to re-claim what’s rightfully theirs.


Who knew that an incorrectly placed fence would cause so much commotion? We all did, we saw it coming before the play even started. But despite its predictability, this comedy is still entertaining and somewhat thought provoking. Written by Karen Zacarias and directed by Marti Lyons, Native Gardens is more about generation clash, stereotypes, ageism and racism rather than the property lines. The older couple is from the pre-self-censorship era, and in their ignorance, they don’t always choose words carefully; they say what’s on their minds rather than hide behind politically correct words and ideas. But those words are often offensive to the delicate ears of Tania, whose proper opinions, frankly, make for sterile conversation, enough to put one to sleep. All in all, the two couples can’t effectively communicate, so they threaten each other instead. Will their peace be restored?


Native Gardens runs through July 2nd at Victory Gardens Theater. To find out more about this show visit www.VictoryGardens.org.

Published in Theatre in Review
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