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Destiny of Desire begins with the actors breaking the fourth wall, walking among the audience, encouraging them to relax and have fun. As they complete their tasks setting up the empty Goodman soundstage on which the telenovela we are about to watch is being shot, the entire cast announces with glee, “We are here to change the social order! Deal with it!”

 

And change the order they do, especially where the reputations and struggles of the Latino community are concerned. Playwright Karen Zacarías so grew weary of the way many plays written by Hispanics were dismissively compared to "telenovelas”, a form of soap opera-like entertainment. We are informed during the show that telenovelas are watched by a third of the world’s population - a full two billion fans around the world. Zacarías succeeds marvelously in parodying a true telenovela for the stage full of twists and turns and sexy passionate, and sometimes tragic, stories while using the play to advance feminist values in a subtle but very important way.

 

For example, when two young girls are struck in the face by their father when they are caught kissing, the father, Armando Castillo (Castulo Guerro), quickly laments his violence and cries that a woman should never be hit by a man - never be hit with anything more harsh than a single rose petal. 

 

Likewise, when the rich villainess of the piece, Fabiola Castillo (played to perfection by the elegant and serpentinely sexy Ruth Livier) seems to make you totally disgusted with her gold digging, self-centered un-motherly behavior, the audience finds out that Fabiola was herself a poor girl subjected to repeated sexual abuse before escaping the farm life and painstakingly transforming herself into a blonde bombshell, eventually marrying to the richest man in the town.  

 

The story starts simply enough when two women (one rich and one poor) give birth at the same time at the same hospital. When the baby belonging to the privileged family is found sickly, the mother begs the doctor to make a switch so that she can have the healthy infant – and he does, pawning the other off on the farmhands. The plot thickens at virtually every corner in this hilarious in this oft steamy, oft scandalous Spanish soap opera set for stage – a show that literally keeps the audience plugged in from its opening scene. The journey follows the happenings as these women take destiny into their own hands. 

 

There are so many twists and turns, it would be a disservice to reveal the plot-lines but the most important message that runs throughout the show from the first scene to the last is that each mother and each daughter born to each family (one poor family and one rich) is the most precious miracle, a blessing bestowed by God and that no matter what the daughter's talents, beauty or graces or mistakes, they should all be protected from abuse or health neglect at any cost. 

 

The set detail truly creates an atmosphere to which we can easily become lost, sit back and just enjoy the story. Each of the men and women are dressed to sexy perfection in Julie Weiss’ true to telenovela form in dazzlingly modern costumes. The costumes by Julie Weiss are so VERY the typical telenovela, the lighting by Pablo Santiago floods the stage with oink, and the golden lights and large swathes of white fabric are ingeniously used to symbolize the desert sands, which is perfectly romantic and also constantly changing. I adored the swiftly moving and beautifully lit set by Francois-Pierre Couture.

 

Although, this is not a musical a pianist provides the score and there are songs, beautiful rich songs sung with passion in Spanish by many of the characters. Not knowing the lyrics in English makes no difference as these lovely pieces bond the show together and send the emotions soaring in a way that deepens the love you feel for each character's plight without stopping the comedy flow.  

 

Now that I know that two billion people are watching and enjoying this form of entertainment, I sincerely hope the huge success of this show makes its feminist message a regular part of telenovelas being produced right now, more than ever. 

 

Throughout the nearly non-stop humor in the show, there are also current day ad libs which refer to Donald Trump, the life expectancy of Hispanics in America (the highest despite financial and health insurances challenges) and the fact is pointed out that one out of every hundred Americans are behind bars because we incarcerate more of our citizens than any other country - messages all of which are delivered in a very funny and brief way which makes each fact that more clear without sounding preachy or out of place. Some are humorous while others are strong in message, one of the more shocking factoids divulging that one person is found dead each day in the desert between Mexico and the United States attempting to cross the border.

 

Karen Zacarias’ parody of the telenovela both does the art form justice and “cleans it up a little” in terms of political correctness in the most palatable way. 

 

Zacarias knows exactly how the pure unadulterated passion of men for the women in their lives can devolve into a passionate rage against the daughters and mothers of OTHER men without distinction in the man’s mind. 

 

Destiny of Desire is a very funny lampoon on telenovelas that perfectly exaggerates the absurdities while giving us an entertaining story where nothing is predictable. 

 

Finely directed by Jose Luis Valenuela, a talented cast from top to bottom perform to perfection this highly amusing script. Esperanza America and Ella Saldana North are just dynamite as the two sisters separated from their true families at birth while Eduardo Enrikez engages the audience each time he appears on stage with his campy portrayal of Sebastian Jose Castillo. Maurico Mendoza and Elsa Bocanegra flawlessly play the poor Del Rio parents as do Ricardo Gutierrez and Fidel Gomez in the roles of father and son doctors, Dr. Jorge Ramiro Mendoza and Dr. Diego. Adding to what is already Well-thought comedic touches are littered throughout the production, the actors performing ballet moves as they switch out the props.   

 

Destiny of Desire is highly recommended as a sexy production that keeps a rapid pace, delivers buckets of comedy and engrosses from the word “Go”.  

 

Destiny of Desire is being performed at Goodman Theatre through April 16th. For tickets or more show information, click here

 

Published in Theatre in Review

The cast and creative team is complete for Objects in the Mirror, a Goodman Theatre-commissioned world premiere by Charles Smith. Directed by Resident Director Chuck Smith, Objects in the Mirror is inspired by the playwright’s real-life friendship with a Liberian refugee-turned-actor, Shedrick Yarkpai—portrayed by Daniel Kyri, in his Goodman debut. The production was developed through the 2015 New Stages festival and features a 5-member cast who brings to life the gripping account of one Liberian refugee’s attempts to find peace by exposing a potentially dangerous lifelong secret. Objects in the Mirror appears April 29 through June 4 (opening night is May 8) in the Albert Theatre. Tickets ($20-$75; subject to change) are now on sale and available at GoodmanTheatre.org/Objects, the box office (170 N. Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800.

 

“In Objects in the Mirror, we’re placed directly into the lives of a family of refugees fleeing the violence of their homeland; we walk several miles in their shoes which forces us to take a good look at what we seem to be afraid of,” said Goodman Theatre Resident Director Chuck Smith, who marks his third world premiere collaboration with Smith—Knock Me a Kiss (Victory Gardens Theater) and Gospel According to James (Indiana Repertory Theatre). “I’m thrilled to reunite with my close friend Charles and excited to work with this exceptional cast and creative team to share Shedrick’s life story with Chicagoland audiences and beyond.” 

 

In 2009, [Charles] Smith traveled to Adelaide, Australia, to see a production of his play Free Man of Color, which featured Shedrick Yarkpai (Kyri), a young Liberian actor, in the title role. He learned about the actor’s tumultuous journey from war-torn Liberia through a number of refugee camps in Western Africa, before his final relocation to Australia. In addition to Kyri, the cast also includes Breon Arzell (Zaza Workolo), Allen Gilmore (John Workolo), Ryan Kitley (Rob Mosher) and Lily Mojekwu (Luopu Workolo), who reprises her role from the 2015 New Stages developmental production. The creative team includes Riccardo Hernandez (sets), Birgit Rattenborg-Wise (costumes), John Culbert (lights), Ray Nardelli (sound) and Mike Tutaj (projections).

 

Conagra Brands is the Major Corporate Sponsor, PwC is the Corporate Sponsor Partner, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing Major Production Support and it was awarded the New Play Award by the Edgerton Foundation.

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

 

CHARLES SMITH (Playwright, Objects in the Mirror) Black Star Line was commissioned and produced by Goodman Theatre and his play Objects in the Mirror appeared at the 2015 New Stages Festival. As a former member of the Victory Gardens Theater Playwrights Ensemble, Smith’s world premiere works include Knock Me a Kiss (directed by Chuck Smith); Freefall, Jelly Belly, Denmark, The Sutherland and Cane (all directed by Dennis Zacek); Takunda and the Jeff Award-winning Free Man of Color (directed by Andrea J. Diamond). His plays Gospel According to James (also directed by Chuck Smith), Sister Carrie and Les Tois Dumas were all commissioned and produced by Indiana Repertory Theatre. His play Pudd’nhead Wilson was commissioned and produced off-Broadway by The Acting Company after a national tour. His work has also been produced at various theaters nationally and in Australia, and may be obtained through Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing, Northwestern Press, Swallow Press and other publishers. Smith currently teaches playwriting at Ohio University.

 

CHUCK SMITH (Director ) is a member of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees and is Goodman Theatre’s Resident Director. He is also a resident director at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, Florida. Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of Pullman Porter Blues; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Race; The Good Negro; Proof and The Story; the world premieres of By the Music of the Spheres and The Gift Horse; James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, which transferred to Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company, where it won the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award for Best Direction; A Raisin in the Sun; Blues for an Alabama Sky; August Wilson’s Two Trains Running and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Ain’t Misbehavin’; the 1993 to 1995 productions of A Christmas Carol; Crumbs From the Table of Joy; Vivisections from a Blown Mind and The Meeting. He served as dramaturg for the Goodman’s world-premiere production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. He directed the New York premiere of Knock Me a Kiss and The Hooch for the New Federal Theatre and the world premiere of Knock Me a Kiss at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, where his other directing credits include Master Harold... and the Boys, Home, Dame Lorraine and Eden, for which he received a Jeff Award nomination. Regionally, Smith directed Death and the King’s Horseman (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Birdie Blue (Seattle Repertory Theatre), The Story (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Blues for an Alabama Sky (Alabama Shakespeare Festival) and The Last Season (Robey Theatre Company). At Columbia College he was facilitator of the Theodore Ward Prize playwriting contest for 20 years and editor of the contest anthologies Seven Black Plays and Best Black Plays. He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay Crime of Innocence and was theatrical director for the Emmy-winning Fast Break to Glory and the Emmy-nominated The Martin Luther King Suite. He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff-nominated Suspenders and the Jeff-winning musical Po’. His directing credits include productions at Fisk University, Roosevelt University, Eclipse Theatre, ETA, Black Ensemble Theater, Northlight Theatre, MPAACT, Congo Square Theatre Company, The New Regal Theater, Kuumba Theatre Company, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Pegasus Players, the Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, Illinois and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He is a 2003 inductee into the Chicago State University Gwendolyn Brooks Center’s Literary Hall of Fame and a 2001 Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year. He is the proud recipient of the 1982 Paul Robeson Award and the 1997 Award of Merit presented by the Black Theater Alliance of Chicago.

BREON ARZELL (Zaza Workolo) makes his Goodman Theatre debut. A Detroit native, Arezell was most recently seen in Kokandy Production's The Wiz, which he also choreographed. Other Chicago credits include Rutherford’s Travels (Pegasus Theatre Chicago); You on the Moors Now, All Our Tragic (Jeff Award for Best Ensemble) and Johanna Faustus (The Hypocrites); The Hairy Ape (Oracle Productions, Jeff Award for Artistic Specialization for Choreography and Jeff nomination for Best Ensemble); Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys (Raven Theatre, Jeff Award for Best Ensemble); War Song (The Plagiarists); Superman 2050 (Theater Unspeakable) and more. He has also choreographed productions for Porchlight Music Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Writers Theater and The Hypocrites. A graduate of Miami of Ohio University, his talents have allowed him to work and perform in London, Wales, Denmark, Singapore, Italy, Germany and across the U.S. BreonArzell.com

 

 

ALLEN GILMORE (John Workolo) returns to the Goodman, where he previously appeared in The Matchmaker and two productions of A Christmas Carol. Chicago credits include The African Company Presents Richard the Third and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (Orgie award, Jeff and Black Theatre Alliance Award nominations) at Congo Square Theatre; Cyrano, Endgame, Sizwe Banzi is Dead (Jeff, BTA and Black Excellence Award nominations), Jitney, The Misanthrope, Seven Guitars, Waiting for Godot (Jeff, BTA and Black Excellence Award nominations), The Good Book and One Man Two Guvnors at Court Theatre; Argonautika and Arabian Nights at Lookingglass Theatre Company and also on tour; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (BroadwayWorld nomination) at Writers Theatre and Fabulation at Next Theatre Company. Gilmore is a 2015 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow, a 2015 3Arts awardee, a U.S. Army Infantry veteran and an ensemble member of Congo Square Theatre Company.

 

RYAN KITLEY (Rob Mosher) returns to the Goodman, where he most recently appeared in the New Stages Festival production of Support Group for Men. He also recently portrayed various historical figures in the six-month run of Assassination Theater.  Additional credits include major roles at Royal George Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Writers Theatre, The Matrix Theater, Colony Theater, The Organic Theatre, Mercury Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Piven Theatre Workshop, Theatre at the Center and Meadow Brook Theatre. Kitley received a Jeff Award for Best Ensemble in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Shattered Globe and a Jeff nomination for Best Supporting Actor in The Big Funk with Clock Productions.   Film and television credits include Chicago P.D., Empire, Chicago Fire, Boss, Detroit 1-8-7, Turks, Early Edition, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Miss March, Soul Survivors, Barbershop II, Dig Two Graves and Guidance, among others. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA.

 

DANIEL KYRI (Shedrick Yakrpai) makes his Goodman Theatre debut. Chicago credits include Monster (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Tug of War Part 1 & 2: Foreign Fire and Civil Strife (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and Moby Dick (Lookingglass Theatre Company). Regional credits include Look Away (TheatreSquared). Television and film credits include Henry Gamble's Birthday Party, Unexpected (Kris Swanberg) and Kid Nation. Kyri is represented by Stewart Talent.

LILY MOJEKWU (Luopa Workolo) returns to the Goodman, where she last appeared in the New Stages Festival production of Objects in the Mirror and Bugs of the Pigs in the Lions, also directed by Chuck Smith. Chicago credits include Look, We are Breathing (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble); The Commons of Pensacola (Northlight Theatre); Luck of the Irish, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter, The Overwhelming and Well (Next Theatre); Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); A Twist of Water (Route 66 Theatre Company); FML: How Carson McCullers Saved My Life, The Elephant Man and understudy performances in The Brother Sister Plays and Intimate Apparel (Steppenwolf Theatre Company). Mojekwu has also spent summers in Frankfort, Michigan performing in Richard III, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, King Lear, Henry V and Love’s Labors Lost  with the Chicago-based Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre. Recent television credits include the pilot episode of Mind Games and several appearances on Chicago Fire.  

 

About Goodman Theatre

 

America’s “Best Regional Theatre” (Time magazine) and “Chicago’s flagship resident stage” (Chicago Tribune), Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit organization distinguished by the quality and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Founded in 1925, the Goodman is led by Robert Falls— “Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune), who marks 30 years as Artistic Director this season—and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, who is celebrated for his vision and leadership over nearly four decades. Dedicated to new plays, reimagined classics and large-scale musical theater works, Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned hundreds of awards for artistic excellence, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, nearly 160 Jeff Awards and more. Over the past three decades, audiences have experienced more than 150 world or American premieres, 30 major musical productions, as well as nationally and internationally celebrated productions of classic works (including Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman, Long Day’s Journey into Night, King Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy). In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” For nearly four decades, the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has created a new generation of theatergoers. 

 

The 2016 opening of the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (“the Alice”) launched the next phase in the Goodman’s decades-long commitment as an arts and community organization dedicated to educating Chicago youth and promoting lifelong learning. Programs are offered year-round and free of charge. Eighty-five percent of the Goodman’s youth program participants come from underserved communities.

 

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

 

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Joan E. Clifford is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women’s Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals. 

 

Visit the Goodman virtually at GoodmanTheatre.org—including OnStage+ for insider information—and on Twitter (@GoodmanTheatre), Facebook and Instagram.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

The plot twists, outrageous circumstances and fast-paced narrative style of the telenovela arrive on the Goodman stage this spring in Destiny of Desire—Karen Zacarías’ “terrifically entertaining theatrical roller coaster, directed to perfection by José Luis Valenzuela” (The Los Angeles Times). Filled with original live music—arranged and performed in English and Spanish by Rosino Serrano—and movement by choreographer Robert Barry Fleming, Destiny of Desire is Zacarías’ smart, subversive and comic study of the clashes of the haves and have-nots that simultaneously honors and parodies the beloved Latin American TV serial drama. Destiny of Desire, produced in association with South Coast Repertory, appears March 11 through April 16 (opening night is March 20) in the Albert Theatre. Tickets ($20-$75; subject to change) are available at GoodmanTheatre.org/Destiny, the box office (170 N. Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800. Details about special events and performances—including “A Date with Destiny” March 15 Scenemakers Board fundraiser for young professionals, “Drama and Desire” March 16 Women’s Night and $10 College Night—appear below. Hoy is the Media Sponsor.

 

“We are thrilled to welcome back Karen Zacarías, one of our most gifted writers, to the Goodman with this delightful new play,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “If you’re a fan of the telenovela, you’ll relish the twists and turns that are an essential part of the genre’s allure; if it’s your first experience, I think you’ll be charmed by Karen’s wit, ingenuity and sobering insights into the issues that confront us today. Either way, I predict you’ll be seduced by the unique pleasures of the telenovela as translated to the stage.”

 

When women take destiny into their own hands, the world transforms! On a stormy night in small town Mexico, two baby girls are born—one to poverty, one to privilege—then secretly switched. Eighteen years later the girls meet, brought together by misfortune. Or is it fate? The 11-member company includes Esperanza America, Elisa Bocanegra, Eduardo Enrikez, Evelina Fernández, Fidel Gomez, Cástulo Guerra, ​​​Ricardo Gutierrez, Ruth Livier, Mauricio Mendoza, Ella Saldana North and Rosino Serrano. The creative team includes François-Pierre Courture (sets), Julie Weiss (costumes), Pablo Santiago (lights), John Zalewski (sound), Serrano (composer/music director) and Fleming (choreography).

 

“I think the moment is right for a theatrically adventurous, wickedly subversive and raucously entertaining play that defies labels while challenging and celebrating a Latino tradition,” said Karen Zacarías, whose previous plays at the Goodman include The Sins of Sor Juana (2010) and Mariela in the Desert (2005). “Destiny of Desire is an act of rebellion, heritage and joy—as well as an aesthetic, artistic and political endeavor. Writing this play has been a joyful experience, and I’m thrilled to share it with Chicago audiences at the Goodman, which I consider an artistic home.”

 

Televised serial dramas of Latin America, Korea, India and beyond are characterized by fast-moving plots, personal stories against political backdrops, music in storytelling, and encouragement of social change. Ugly Betty, Devious Maids, Jane the Virgin and Queen of the South are among U.S. versions of telenovelas. Unlike daytime soaps, telenovelas air during primetime, over the course of roughly 200 episodes (or chapters) up to six nights a week.

 

"It is great to be at the Goodman with this play, which challenges the perception of Mexicans told through the familiar lens of the Telenovela genre,” said José Luis Valenzuela.  “Karen has masterfully created a raucous piece that combines music, humor, and a political edge that culminates in a night of beauty and provocation of what happens when women decide to take over their own destiny."

Karen Zacarías was recently hailed by American Theater Magazine as one of the most produced playwrights in the USA. Other plays premiering in Chicago in 2017 include Native Gardens at Victory Gardens and Into the Beautiful North at 16th Street Theater. Other plays include Mariela in the Desert (World Premiere, The Goodman), The Sins of Sor Juana (productions The Goodman Theater and Teatro Vista), The Book Club Play (16th Street Theater), Legacy of Light (National Steinberg citation winner), the adaptations of Just Like Us (Denver Center), How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent (Round House). She collaborated on the libretto for the ballets Sleepy Hollow and Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises for the Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and has written 10 TYA musicals with composer Deborah Wicks La Puma. Her plays have been produced at The Kennedy Center, The Goodman Theater, South Coast Rep, The Guthrie, Cincinnati Playhouse, RoundHouse Theater, GALA Hispanic Theater, Denver Theater Center, Dallas Theater Center and many more. Zacarías is a core founder of the Latino Theatre Commons, a national network that strives to update the American narrative to including the stories of Latinos. She is the founder of Young Playwrights’ Theater, an award-winning theater company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, D.C. Zacarías lives in D.C. with her husband and three children.    

 

José Luis Valenzuela is the artistic director of the Latino Theater Company (LTC) and The Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC) and also a professor and head of the MFA directing program at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. In 2010, under Valenzuela’s leadership, the LATC was nominated for an L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Best Theatre Season. Valenzuela’s artistic vision and community commitment has garnered numerous recognitions, nominations and awards including the Ann C. Rosenfield Distinguished Community Partnership Prize and the Hispanic Heritage Month Local Hero of the Year Award. He serves on the national steering committee of the Latina/o Theatre Commons and produced the national Latina/o Theatre Festival Encuentro in 2014. Most recently, he directed Destiny of Desire at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. and South Coast Repertory and La Olla – Plautus’s The Pot of Gold for the Latino Theater Company at the LATC.

 

TICKETS, DISCOUNTS AND SPECIAL EVENTS

Tickets ($20-$75) – GoodmanTheatre.org/Destiny; 312.443.3800; Fax: 312.443.3825; TTY/TDD: 312.443.3829

Box Office Hours –12noon - 5pm; on performance days, the box office remains open until 30 minutes past curtain

MezzTix – Half-price day-of-performance mezzanine tickets available at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX)

$10Tix – Student $10 day-of-performance tickets; limit four, with valid student ID (promo code 10TIX)

Group Sales and dinner/theater packages with Latinicity restaurant are available for parties 10+; 312.443.3820

Gift Certificates – Available in any amount; GoodmanTheatre.org/GiftCertificates

 

“A DATE WITH DESTINY” SCENEMAKERS EVENT – March 15 | 5:30pm reception at Catch 35, 7:30pm performance

Tickets are $65. Join the Scenemakers Board for “A Date with Destiny”—a fateful fundraising event that supports New Play Development at Goodman Theatre. Mingle with Chicago young professionals and experience the kind of exciting new plays the Scenemakers Board works to support. GoodmanTheatre.org/DestinyDate

 

COLLEGE NIGHT – March 15 | 6pm meet-the-artists pizza party, 7:30pm performance

Tickets are $10 using code COLLEGE; includes dinner and performance. Students enjoy a pre-show reception with fellow theater-lovers and cast members, followed by a performance. GoodmanTheatre.org/CollegeNight

 

“DRAMA AND DESIRE” WOMEN'S NIGHT – March 16 | 5:30pm cocktails and dinner at Petterino's, 7:30pm performance. Tickets are $75; includes dinner and performance. Mingle with the city’s best and brightest female leaders. GoodmanTheatre.org/WomensNight

 

ARTIST ENCOUNTER – March 19 at 5pm | The Alice Center for Engagement and Education at Goodman Theatre.  Tickets are FREE. In a special collaboration with Chicago Foundation for Women, join Zacarías for an in-depth conversation about the play, as well as her experience as a female playwright and her role as an artist in advocating for women’s rights. GoodmanTheatre.org/ArtistEncounter

 

ACCESSIBILITY AT GOODMAN THEATRE

 

Touch-Tour, April 8 at 12:30pm – A presentation detailing the set, costume and character elements

Audio-Described Performance, April 8 at 2pm – The action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset

ASL-Interpreted Performance, April 12 at 7:30pm – Professional ASL interpreter signs the action/text as played 

Open-Captioned Performance, April 15 at 2pm – An LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance

Visit Goodman Theatre.org/Access for more information about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.

 

About Goodman Theatre

 

America’s “Best Regional Theatre” (Time magazine) and “Chicago’s flagship resident stage” (Chicago Tribune), Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit organization distinguished by the quality and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Founded in 1925, the Goodman is led by Robert Falls—“Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune), who marks 30 years as Artistic Director this season—and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, who is celebrated for his vision and leadership over nearly four decades. Dedicated to new plays, reimagined classics and large-scale musical theater works, Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned hundreds of awards for artistic excellence, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, nearly 160 Jeff Awards and more. Over the past three decades, audiences have experienced more than 150 world or American premieres, 30 major musical productions, as well as nationally and internationally celebrated productions of classic works (including Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman, Long Day’s Journey into Night, King Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy). In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” For nearly four decades, the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has created a new generation of theatergoers. 

 

The 2016 opening of the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (“the Alice”) launched the next phase in the Goodman’s decades-long commitment as an arts and community organization dedicated to educating Chicago youth and promoting lifelong learning. Programs are offered year-round and free of charge. Eighty-five percent of the Goodman’s youth program participants come from underserved communities.

 

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

 

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Joan E. Clifford is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women’s Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals. 

 

Visit the Goodman virtually at GoodmanTheatre.org—including OnStage+ for insider information—and on Twitter (@GoodmanTheatre), Facebook and Instagram.

 

Published in Buzz Extra
Friday, 24 February 2017 18:23

Review: Uncle Vanya at Goodman Theatre

In 2010, Goodman Theatre Artistic Director adapted "The Seagull" by Chekhov. An all-star cast, a stellar script and unique staging made for a memorable production. For this season, Robert Falls returns Chekhov to the Goodman with a new adaptation of "Uncle Vanya" by Annie Baker. This production of "Uncle Vanya" could be seen as a companion piece to 2010's "The Seagull." There's a stylistic similarity and another all-star cast breathing new life into this classic work. 

 

Like any Chekhov play, "Uncle Vanya" is about the everyday boredom and sadness of bourgeois Russians living on a country estate. Vanya (Tim Hopper) and niece Sonya (Caroline Neff) have toiled away their youths keeping the estate afloat and subsidizing the academic career of Sonya's aging father Alexander (David Darlow). When Alexander and his much younger wife Yelena (Kristen Bush) decide to move in with Vanya, their simple lives reach confrontation. 

 

Chekhov has a knack for dynamic female characters. "Uncle Vanya" is no exception. Caroline Neff's performance as Sonya sneakily becomes the focal point. Neff infuses Baker's already modern dialogue with an almost tangible sense of emotion.  Playing off her in the role of Yelena is Kristin Bush. This character is complicated and cold but Bush deftly shifts between moods without ever losing her audience. 

 

Adapter Annie Baker won the Pulitzer in 2014 for her play "The Flick." Her interpretation of "Uncle Vanya" was based on a literal word-for-word translation as she wanted her version to sound as fresh to a modern American audience as the original Russian had in 1900. To that end, Baker is successful. The script is quiet, but the dialogue seamlessly flows into our century. There's a timelessness to the entire production. Certain conventions, costumes and set pieces span generations, yet are of no specific historic era.  This stylistic choice only reinforces the ever-relevant themes of Chekhov's complex works. 

 

"Uncle Vanya" can neither be described as a comedy or a drama. There are moments of lightness and even dark humor, but overall the play is not particularly funny. On the other hand, while there's a well of unhappiness just beneath the surface, nothing truly cataclysmic happens. In the end, Chekhov makes his nihilistic point that perhaps none of us are happy and that death is the only respite we'll know. 

 

Through March 19th at Goodman Theatre. 170 N Dearborn St. 312-443-3800

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Ten years after their critically acclaimed collaboration on King Lear, Artistic Director Robert Falls and stage and screen star Stacy Keach—both 2015 Theater Hall of Fame inductees—reunite for the world premiere of Pamplona by Jim McGrath. Keach stars as Ernest Hemingway, one of the most acclaimed novelists and short story writers of the 20th century, in this explosive tour de force drama, set during the author’s haunted years following his Pulitzer and Nobel Prize honors. Pamplona marks Keach’s second exploration of the literary legend: he earned a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of Hemingway in the eponymous 1988 television mini-series. Pamplona appears May 19 – June 18 in the Owen Theatre. Tickets ($20-60, subject to change) go on sale Monday, February 20 at 10am online at GoodmanTheatre.org and at 12 noon by telephone, 312.443.3800, or in person at the Goodman Box Office (170 N. Dearborn). Note: The previously-announced Lady in Denmark by Dael Orlandersmith will be rescheduled TBA; Goodman subscribers will receive tickets to Pamplona.   

 

“I am honored to work with Stacy on the world premiere of Jim McGrath’s beautifully rendered work about one of our most charismatic yet complicated literary titans—and a Chicagoland native—Ernest Hemingway,” said Robert Falls who, in addition to King Lear (2006), also directed Keach in Arthur Miller’s Finishing the Picture (2004). “Stacy is a voracious reader, and Hemingway has fascinated him for a long time. The opportunity to dive deep with him to reveal this troubled artist and amazing man—at once a father, husband, lover, wartime correspondent and adventurer—is thrilling.”

 

In McGrath’s new play, after the prize comes the pressure. Basking in the glory of career-defining awards—the 1953 Pulitzer Prize and the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954—legendary writer Ernest Hemingway insists his best work is yet to come. Five years later, holed up in a Spanish hotel with a looming deadline, he struggles to knock out a story about the rivalrous matadors of Pamplona. But his real battles lie outside the bullfighting arena; in declining health, consumed by his troubled fourth marriage and tormented by the specter of past glories, he must now conquer the deepening despair that threatens to engulf him.  

 

“My fascination with Hemingway began when I was a student at the University of California at Berkeley, where I read In Our Time. I felt as if the author was inside my head, expressing himself with words and attitudes that reflected how I felt—and I became inspired to read everything he wrote,” said Stacy Keach. “When I played him in the 1980s, I was somewhat intimidated; I felt simply too young to fully appreciate the emotional turmoil he had experienced, due to his failing health and his inability to continue writing. This is why I am so excited with the prospect of revisiting this literary giant now, at the right age to fully explore the essence of his later years. The opportunity to work with Bob, with whom I’ve been blessed to collaborate twice before, and work again at Goodman Theatre—so close to where Hemingway grew up—is perfect.”

 

Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) was born in Oak Park, IL, and got his start as a journalist writing for The Kansas City Star after attending Oak Park and River Forest High School. Shortly after, he joined the Red Cross during World War I, receiving the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery in 1918 for assisting soldiers, an experience that would inspire one of his most beloved works A Farewell to Arms (1929). Following the war, he spent time in Paris, befriending the likes of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and published his first collection of stories Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923). Next came his first novel The Sun Also Rises (1926), about a group of British and American expatriates traveling to Pamplona, Spain. Among his many other great works are the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Old Man and the Sea, For the Whom Bell Tolls (Pulitzer Prize nomination), Green Hills of Africa, Death in the Afternoon and To Have and Have Not. On assignment, Hemingway was also present for some of World War II’s most noted events including the liberation of Paris, and received a Bronze Star for bravery for his coverage of the war. Following the war, he spent an extensive amount of time in Cuba and in 1954, shortly after publishing The Old Man and the Sea, received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Hemingway was married four times, often tumultuously, to Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gelhorn and Mary Welsh Hemingway. He had three sons, Jack, Patrick and Gregory. Troubled by financial issues, familial burdens and alcohol abuse, Hemingway took his own life in Idaho in 1961.

 

Stacy Keach has maintained a series of performances in motion picture and television projects while continuing to add to his significant achievements on the stage—both classical and Broadway. His most recent motion pictures are director Stephen Gaghan’s Gold, starring Matthew McConaughy, Edgar Ramirez, and Bryce Dallas Howard, and Gotti with John Travolta. Other recent films are Truth (with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford), Stephen King’s, Cell, (with John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson,) and Netflix’s Girlfriend’s Day, starring and directed by Bob Odenkirk. His filmography includes John Huston’s Fat City, co-starring Jeff Bridges, Alexander Payne’s Academy Award nominated big screen drama, Nebraska, If I Stay, Bourne Supremacy, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, The Ninth Configuration, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Doc, Up In Smoke, American History and the classic western, The Long-Riders, which he produced with his brother James Keach. Keach was one of the stars of the NBC comedy series, Crowded.  He recently finished filming a few episodes of award winning Man With A Plan alongside Matt LeBlanc and Kevin Nealon. Prior television includes: Showtime’s Ray Donovan, Starz’s Blunt Talk, CBS’s, Blue Bloods, Fox’s Titus, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Two and a half Men, Prison Break, NCIS: New Orleans, and Hot In Cleveland. As a narrator his voice has been heard in countless documentaries and numerous books on tape. He is the narrator on CNBC’s American Greed. Keach has portrayed a constellation of the classic and contemporary stage's greatest roles, and he is considered a pre-eminent American interpreter of Shakespeare. His Shakespearian roles include Hamlet, Henry V, Coriolanus, Falstaff, Macbeth, Richard 3, and King Lear. He also headed the national touring company cast of Frost/Nixon, portraying Richard M. Nixon. Keach’s memoir All in All: An Actor’s Life On and Off the stage, received the Prism Literary Award. Other awards include: Golden Globe, three Obies, three Vernon Rices, two Drama Desks, three Helen Hayes, Emmy and Tony Award nominations, and he won the Prestigious Millineum Recognition Award, the Will Award. Keach was recently inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame, and received a Hollywood Film Award for Best Ensemble in the film Gold. He also received the 2016 Best Narrator from The Society of Voice Arts and Sciences in the category of Crime and Thriller for his work on Mike Hammer audio novels. Keach was a Fulbright scholar to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, attended the University of California at Berkeley and the Yale Drama School. Of his many accomplishments, Keach claims that his greatest accomplishment is his family: his wife of 30 years, Malgosia, and children Shannon and Karolina.

 

Jim McGrath’s first short play, Trail of the Westwoods Pewee, was presented at the West Bank Theatre in New York City in 1987. The next year saw the production of his first full-length play, Bob’s Guns, at the Director’s Company in New York. In 1992, New Jersey’s Passage Theatre produced his play Roebling Steel. In 1995, the Met Theatre in Los Angeles premiered The Ellis Jump, which won McGrath the Ovation Award for Best Writing of a World Premier Play. For television, he wrote detective stories for Simon & Simon, The Father Dowling Mysteries, Matlock, Mike Hammer and Over My Dead Body, as well as the children’s series Wishbone and Liberty Kids, science fiction series Quantum Leap, Codename Eternity and Dark Realm and the television films Elvis: The Early Years and Silver Bells (starring Anne Heche). He also co-wrote the screenplay for the feature film Kickboxer: Vengeance. In 2012, he produced and wrote the documentary Momo: The Sam Giancana Story, which won Best Documentary Awards at the Bel Air Film Festival and The Monaco International Film Festival. He has taught creative writing courses at Patton State Prison in San Bernardino, California State Home for Veterans in Los Angeles and The Center Theater in Chicago. He was trained as an artist leader with Imagination Workshop, by founders Margaret Ladd and Lyle Kessler in 1983, for which he worked with mentally ill and homeless clients for decades as a theater artist. In 2010, he became Executive Director of Imagination Workshop. McGrath is a native of Dallas, Texas. After graduating SMU, he attended Princeton Theological Seminary for two years before embarking on his playwriting career.

 

Robert Falls is celebrating 30 years as Goodman Theatre Artistic Director this season. His current production, Annie Baker’s adaptation of Uncle Vanya, is on stage now in the Owen Theatre through March 12. Last season, he directed Rebecca Gilman’s Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976, and co-adapted/directed the world premiere of 2666, based on Roberto Bolaño’s internationally celebrated novel, earning a Jeff Award for Best Adaptation. Previous credits include the critically acclaimed production of The Iceman Cometh at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Gilman’s Luna Gale at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles; and a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Other recent productions include Measure for Measure and the world premiere of Beth Henley’s The Jacksonian. Among his other credits are The Seagull, King Lear, Desire Under the Elms, John Logan’s Red, Jon Robin Baitz’s Three Hotels, Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio and Conor McPherson’s Shining City; the world premieres of Richard Nelson’s Frank’s Home, Arthur Miller’s Finishing the Picture (his last play), Eric Bogosian’s Griller, Steve Tesich’s The Speed of Darkness and On the Open Road, John Logan’s Riverview: A Melodrama with Music and Gilman’s A True History of the Johnstown Flood, Blue Surge and Dollhouse; the American premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s House and Garden and the Broadway production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida. Falls’ honors for directing include, among others, a Tony Award (Death of a Salesman), a Drama Desk Award (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), an Obie Award (subUrbia), a Helen Hayes Award (King Lear) and multiple Jeff Awards (including a 2012 Jeff Award for The Iceman Cometh). For “outstanding contributions to theater,” Mr. Falls has also been recognized with such prestigious honors as the Savva Morozov Diamond Award (Moscow Art Theatre), the O’Neill Medallion (Eugene O’Neill Society), the Distinguished Service to the Arts Award (Lawyers for the Creative Arts) and the Illinois Arts Council Governor’s Award.

 

About Goodman Theatre

 

America’s “Best Regional Theatre” (Time magazine) and “Chicago’s flagship resident stage” (Chicago Tribune), Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit organization distinguished by the quality and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Founded in 1925, the Goodman is led by Robert Falls—“Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune), who marks 30 years as Artistic Director this season—and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, who is celebrated for his vision and leadership over nearly four decades. Dedicated to new plays, reimagined classics and large-scale musical theater works, Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned hundreds of awards for artistic excellence, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, nearly 160 Jeff Awards and more. Over the past three decades, audiences have experienced more than 150 world or American premieres, 30 major musical productions, as well as nationally and internationally celebrated productions of classic works (including Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman, Long Day’s Journey into Night, King Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy). In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” For nearly four decades, the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has created a new generation of theatergoers. 

 

The 2016 opening of the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (“the Alice”) launched the next phase in the Goodman’s decades-long commitment as an arts and community organization dedicated to educating Chicago youth and promoting lifelong learning. Programs are offered year-round and free of charge. Eighty-five percent of the Goodman’s youth program participants come from underserved communities.

 

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

 

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Joan Clifford is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women’s Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals. 

 

Visit the Goodman virtually at GoodmanTheatre.org—including OnStage+ for insider information—and on Twitter (@GoodmanTheatre), Facebook and Instagram.

 

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