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Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, announces the addition of Cry It Out, written by Molly Smith Metzler, to close its 43rd season, May 10 – June 17, 2018. The previously announced The Legend of Georgia McBride, directed by Lauren Shouse, has been re-scheduled to open the season, playing September 14 - October 22, 2017, replacing Bruce Graham’s Sanctions. 
 
Cry It Out was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville and premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in spring 2017. Northlight's production, directed by Jessica Fisch, will be the first outside of the Festival.
 
Cooped up on maternity leave and eager for conversation, Jessie invites the funny and forthright Lina for coffee in their neighboring backyards. They become fast friends, quickly bonding over their shared “new mom” experience—and arousing the interest of a wealthy neighbor hoping for a similar connection. This insightful comedy takes an honest look at the absurdities of new motherhood, the dilemma of returning to work versus staying at home, and how class impacts parenthood and friendship.
 
Molly Smith Metzler‘s plays include Elemeno PeaThe May Queen, Carve, Training Wisteria and Close Up Space (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist).  Regional Theatre: South Coast Repertory, the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Chautauqua Theater Company, Geva Theatre Center, and City Theatre Company, among others. Off-Broadway: Manhattan Theatre Club. Awards include the Lecomte du Nouy Prize from Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center National Student Playwriting Award, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s David Mark Cohen Award, and the Mark Twain Comedy Prize. Metzler is an alum of Ars Nova’s Play Group and the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages. She is currently under commission at Manhattan Theatre Club and South Coast Repertory. Television: Codes of Conduct (HBO); Casual (Hulu); Orange Is the New Black (Netflix). Metzler was educated at State University of New York Geneseo, Boston University, New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, and The Juilliard School.
  
The 2017-18 Season is now as follows:
 
THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE
By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Lauren Shouse
September 14 - October 22, 2017

A down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator has an overdrawn checking account and a baby on the way. When a drag show takes over the entertainment at the Florida Panhandle bar where he performs, he’ll also be out of a job…unless he’s willing to step into some high heels. This heartwarming, music-filled comedy celebrates the unexpected path to finding your true voice.
 
THE BOOK OF WILL
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Jessica Thebus
November 9 – December 17, 2017

William Shakespeare wrote some of the world’s most beloved plays – but without his friends, they may have been lost to history! Follow the members of Shakespeare’s own company as they cunningly navigate the production of the First Folio in 1623. They may not have any money or clear-cut rights to his work, but they’re armed with wit, humor, a deep camaraderie and a passion to preserve the plays that shaped their lives. With the help of their wives and colleagues, two actors set out not only to print a collection, but to uphold a legacy for the world.
 
SKELETON CREW
By Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Ron OJ Parson
January 25 – March 4, 2018

At the start of the Great Recession, rumors of impending closure surround one of the last auto plants in Detroit. The nation’s financial crisis gets personal as each of the workers confronts the life-altering choices they must make if their plant goes under, while the supervisor is torn between allegiances to his makeshift family of co-workers and management’s “cost-saving” demands. When pushed to the limits of survival, how far over the lines are people willing to cross?
 
The third play in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit trilogy, Skeleton Crew was named one of Time Magazine’s 10 Best Shows of the Year.
 
THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
By Martin McDonagh
Directed by BJ Jones
Featuring Kate Fry
March 15 – April 22, 2018

This Tony Award-winning dark comedy is set in the provincial Irish town of Leenane. Forty-year-old spinster Maureen Folan lives with her manipulative aging mother Mag, stuck in a caretaking relationship that has them both seething with resentment. When a romantic encounter finally sparks Maureen’s hopes for an escape from her dreary existence, Mag’s interference sets in motion a chain of events that is as tragically funny as it is terrifying.
 
CRY IT OUT
By Molly Smith Metzler
Directed by Jessica Fisch
May 10 – June 17, 2018

Cooped up on maternity leave and eager for conversation, Jessie invites the funny and forthright Lina for coffee on their neighboring patios. They become fast friends, quickly bonding over their shared “new mom” experience—and arousing the interest of a wealthy neighbor hoping for a similar connection. This insightful comedy takes an honest look at the absurdities of new motherhood, the dilemma of returning to work versus staying at home, and how class impacts parenthood and friendship.
 
Curtain times are: Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
 
Subscriptions to the 2017-18 Northlight Season are available through the box office, 9501 Skokie Boulevard in Skokie, by phone at 847.673.6300 or online at northlight.org. With its wide range of ticket prices, discounted subscription packages and complimentary parking, Northlight remains of one of the best theatrical values in Chicagoland. 
 
Subscriptions range in price from $99-$250.  A limited number of season subscriptions for the Opening Night performances (also includes a reception with the cast) are available for $325, subject to availability.  Northlight subscribers will have the first chance to purchase additional tickets before they go on sale to the general public. For more information, visit northlight.org.
 
Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community.
 
Now in its 42nd season, the organization has mounted over 200 productions, including nearly 40 world premieres. Northlight has earned 198 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 34 Awards. As one of the area’s premier theatre companies, Northlight is a regional magnet for critical and professional acclaim, as well as talent of the highest quality.
 
Northlight is supported in part by generous contributions from Allstate Insurance; the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; Robert & Isabelle Bass Foundation; BMO Harris Bank; Henrietta Lange Burk Fund; The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; The Chicago Community Trust; ComEd, An Exelon Company; The Davee Foundation; Edgerton Foundation for New American Plays Award; Evanston Community Foundation; Full Circle Foundation; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Kirkland & Ellis Foundation; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Melvoin Award for Playwriting; Modestus Bauer Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Niles Township; The Offield Family Foundation; The Pauls Foundation; Room & Board; Sanborn Family Foundation; Dr. Scholl Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; The Sullivan Family Foundation; and Tom Stringer Design Partners.
 

 

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

“Late Company” is the fairly literal title of a new play by Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill. Presented by COR Theatre, Jessica Fisch directs the regional premiere at Pride Arts Center. The 80-minute play is a response to the uptick in teen suicides triggered by cyberbullying.

“Late Company” takes on the weighty issue of LGBT teen suicide. The play begins with political couple Michael (Paul Fagen) and Debora (Tosha Fowler) setting up for some dinner guests. Over the course of their cryptic conversation, we glean that their son has killed himself and the dinner guests are the parents of the bully they blame for their son’s suicide.

The implausibility of the situation is troubling. It’s hard to imagine that a grieving family would cordially invite over the parents of the bully they blame for the loss of their son. It’s even harder to imagine anyone taking that invitation. What transpires over the course of 80 minutes is a structurally unsound one-liner competition. Some highlights include “you were always more interested in the spin, than the spin cycle.”

This is not a play without heart. This is a play without a clear message. While most of us can generally agree that suicide is a heartbreaking thing to happen to any loved one, this play treats it as nearly incidental. The playwright struggles to flesh out a clear central argument. These characters are rarely having conversations, sometimes they’re just reading letters to each other. Great plays are exchanges of revelatory dialogue in which bigger issues are addressed. “Late Company” stays so specific to its own characters that it rarely acknowledges the outside world.

Tannahill’s play is ambitious and maybe more remarkable in other productions. The storyline is very relevant and has the opportunity to say much more than it does in its current form. There’s a lot to discuss on this topic and plenty of work still to do to prevent teen suicide. The playwright would be wise to dig a little deeper than anger in order to express that moral.

At COR Theatre through July 16th at Pride Arts Center. 4147 N Broadway St

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Get set for a scorching start to Chicago's summer theater season when Cor Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of  ”Late Company”, a shockingly funny, scathingly painful drama set on Chicago's North Shore about LGBTQ youth and the scourge of teen suicide.

Acclaimed director Jessica Fisch will stage the first Chicago production of this vitally important new work by Canadian playwright, director and filmmaker Jordan Tannahill - "the future of Canadian theatre" (NOW Magazine) and "the hottest name in Canadian theatre" (Montreal Gazette).

The raves continue for the just-opened European premiere of ”Late Company” at London's Finborough Theatre. Time Out London called ”Late Company” a "powerful new drama about the devastating aftershocks of cyber bullying. Superb." The Times hailed this "dinner party from hell serves up the full gamut of emotions. A terrific play. Go! This one deserves a West End transfer."
 
Like the controversial Netflix hit series 13 Reasons Why, ”Late Company” takes no prisoners with its vivid portrayal of the aftershocks of teen suicide. 

New dates for Cor Theater's Chicago debut of ”Late Company” are June 17 to July 16, 2017 at The Buena (Pride Arts Center), 4147 N. Broadway St. in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. Tickets, $18-$30, are on sale now at cortheatre.org, or by calling (866) 811-4111.

Updated schedule: Previews are Saturday June 17 at 3 p.m., and Sunday and Monday, June 18 and 19 at 8 p.m.
Performances continue through July 16: Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.
Exceptions: No shows Wednesday, June 21 or July 5. The show on Thursday, June 22 is sold out.

“Late Company” is for mature audiences. 

More about “Late Company”

One year after a gay teen's suicide, two North Shore families sit down to dinner. Pleasant mealtime chatter quickly turns into fierce interrogation as each person at the table confesses their real or imagined part in the tragedy. As blame shifts, layers of parental, sexual, and political hypocrisy are revealed. Scathingly funny and heartbreakingly real, award winning Jordan Tannahill's ”Late Company” asks, "How well can a parent ever really know their child?"
 
According to Cor Artistic Director and cast member Tosha Fowler, "“Late Company” is about wrestling with forgiveness. Two sets of parents are fighting desperately for closure from a suicide brought on by missed opportunities and misunderstandings on both sides. Nobody in the room is blameless - everyone is sparring like hell to find peace within themselves and each other."
 
"Jordan's writing is funny and searing. It has the kind of visceral energy that makes live theater unique," said director Jessica Fisch, adding, "In light of our current political climate, a play about people coming to the table to talk over their grievances feels both novel and inspirational. I want to believe it's possible for people with drastically different points of view to find common ground and healing.
“Late Company” challenges that belief and offers hope that it is possible."
 
The “Late Company” cast is Tony Bozzuto (so memorable in Cor's Skin Tight and Christina, The Girl King), Matthew Elam (a Chicago newcomer and third year acting major at DePaul), Paul Fagen (recently seen in About Face's The Tempermentals) and Tosha Fowler (co-founder and artistic director of Cor, stage credits include What of The Night? and Love and Human Remains, director of last season's A Map of Virtue, and one of New City's 2016 Players: The 50 People who Really Perform for Chicago.) New to the cast is Asia Jackson, most recently seen in Among All of This You Stand Like A Fine Brownstone at ETA Creative Arts Theatre.

The production team is Cole von Glahn (assistant director), Adam Gutkin (set and props), Alarie Hammock (costumes), Jeffrey Levin (sound), Eric Vigo (lights), Topher Kielbasa (dramaturg), Stefin Steberl (production manager) and Michael Starcher (stage manager).
 
Jordan Tannahill is a playwright, director, filmmaker and a leading figure in Canada's gay arts community. The Toronto Globe and Mail recently hailed him as "...the poster child of a new generation of (theatre? film? dance?) artists for whom 'interdisciplinary' is not a buzzword, but a way of life." His plays have been presented across Canada, his films have been widely exhibited at venues such as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the British Film Institute, and he received the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award for Drama for his book Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays. In collaboration with William Ellis, Tannahill runs the alternative art-space Videofag in Toronto. Currently he is partnering with the National Theatre of London and the National Film Board Canada to create Draw Me Close, an immersive technology memoir in which audiences experience a live, illustrated world as five-year-old Jordan during his mother's battle with cancer. The first chapter of Draw Me Close premieres April 21-29, 2017 at the Tribeca Film Festival. jordantannahill.com.

Jessica Fisch is a Chicago-based freelance director and professor. Chicago projects this season include directing the world premiere of Firebirds Take the Field for Rivendell Theatre Ensemble and associate directing Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee at Steppenwolf. Other credits include Trudy, Carolyn, Martha and Regina Travel to Outer Space (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival), Fefu and Her Friends (Goodman Theatre/Rivendell Latina/o Celebration), Opulent Complex and That Thing That Time (Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Tens), Far Away (SITE Festival, Northwestern), 42 Stories (Raven Theatre, [Working Title] series) and Machinal and Spike Heels (Northwestern University). Selected New York credits are
The Realm (The Wild Project), strive/seek/find (Abingdon Theatre), the 2009 Playwrights Horizons Stories on 5 Stories Benefit, Personal History (Ensemble Studio Theatre), The Redheaded Man (Barrow Street Theatre/Down Payment Productions/FringeNYC/ FringeEncores), and Dressed In Your Dreams (Public Theater/Emerging Writers Group), an adaptation of the cult 1960's gothic vampire soap opera Dark Shadows (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Prior to moving to Chicago, Fisch lived in New York City where she was the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Down Payment Productions (DPP). She was also a resident director at Ensemble Studio Theater, the 2008-2009 Playwrights Horizons Directing Resident and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. She earned her MFA at Northwestern University. 

About Cor Theatre
 
Cor Theatre (cortheatre.org) debuted in September 2012 with a vision to create theatrical experiences that are rarely presented in Chicago by artists who seek to defy expectation. Today, Cor is one of Chicago's youngest and most ambitious professional theater companies with a growing board and strong experience behind it.

Cor's inaugural production, Skin Tight by Gary Henderson, was met with enthusiastic audiences, critical acclaim and made just enough money to establish a not-for-profit corporation. The company named itself Cor Theatre, deriving its name from the Latin root of courage - meaning heart.
 
Cor returned in 2015 with Erin Courtney's A Map of Virtue, named a top show to see in the Chicago Tribune and Most Promising Debut by Time Out Chicago. Cor triumphed again in 2015 with the first Chicago staging in 20 years of Brad Frasier's Love and Human Remains, which played to numerous sold-out houses and was named one of the top plays to see by Windy City Times and New City.

In March 2016, Cor presented the U.S. premiere of Christina, The Girl King by Michel Marc Bouchard, translated by Linda Gaboriau, telling the true story of the enigmatic, gender bending 17th century Queen of Sweden. Cor concluded its 2016 season in October with an epic production of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan, translated by Tony Kushner, directed by ensemble member Ernie Nolan.
 
Most recently, in January 2017, Cor gobsmacked Chicago audiences and critics alike with Carlos Murillo's daring staging of What of the Night? by María Irene Fornés.
Company members are Tony Bozzuto, Chris Brickhouse, Elyse Cowles, Tosha Fowler, Adam Gutkin, Alarie Hammock, Topher Kielbasa, Jeffrey Levin, Claire Meyers, Ernie Nolan, Stefin Steberl and Eric Vigo.

For more information, visit cortheatre.org, like Cor Theatre on Facebook, follow the company on Twitter, @CorTheatre, or call (866) 811-4111.

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (RTE), Chicago’s only Equity theatre dedicated to producing new work with women at the core, announces the world premiere of The Firebirds Take the Field by Lynn Rosen and directed by Jessica Fisch. The Firebirds Take the Field runs April 15 – May 20, 2017, at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago.  The Firebirds Take the Field is produced with support from the Alfred P. Sloane Foundation and Ensemble Studio Theater and is the second production of RTE’s 2017 Season ‘Exploring the Mind/Body Connection.’

 

It's been 25 years since molecular neuroscientist Avery Kahn left Highland Falls, NY. But when 18 local girls, cheerleaders mostly, are stricken with a mysterious ailment, Avery reluctantly returns home to tackle what the locals derisively call the “girl disease.” As Avery becomes affected—and infected—by the girls, the case becomes more personal than she ever expected. Based on actual events, Firebirds is a fascinating and often hilarious investigation of how women in particular are impacted by the pressures of growing up.

 

The Firebirds Take the Field was inspired by real events in LeRoy, New York in Fall 2011.  Camera crews descended on the small town when over a dozen teenagers from the same high school developed similar mysterious symptoms, including uncontrollable twitching, tics and verbal outbursts.

 

The Firebirds Take the Field features RTE Members Meighan Gerachis (Avery), Rebecca Spence (Helen), RTE Artistic Director Tara Mallen (Kathy) and RTE’s newest member most recently honored with a Jeff nomination for Best Actress for her work in last season’s production of Dry Land, Jessica Ervin (Penelope), Margaret Kusterman (Cynthia), Josh Odor (Mark), Aurora Real de Asua (Lucia), and Hannah Toriumi (Agatha).

 

The Firebirds Take the Field is funded in part by The Ensemble Studio Theatre/ Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project.

 

“The play takes place in a dying industrial town stunted by years of decay, where going to ‘the game’ and rooting for victory still mean something and winning gives the town worth and hope,” said director Jessica Fisch. “Pretty, athletic, smiling, golden girls are responsible for rallying the spirits of their community, but to be seventeen and believe your value is inextricably tied to your looks, youth, and exuberance is a recipe for destruction. Off the field, the girls are grappling with challenges and instability without the maturity or vocabulary to handle them. The girls bury their concerns and ignore their own grief, trauma, sadness, and hardship, but the weight of their repression proves too much and their bodies begin to rebel. By ignoring those emotions they deny themselves the process of healing. It turns out, the human body will find a way to grieve.”

 

“I was surprised when researching the real stories of the teens from LeRoy, New York, to learn that their final diagnosis of ‘Conversion Disorder’ was just a new name for ‘female hysteria.’ Women, in particular, who are diagnosed with mental issues are immediately dismissed both from the medical profession and by society as their conditions are not seen as being ‘real’," comments Artistic Director Tara Mallen. “Yet history and myth are filled with stories of girls exhibiting bizarre symptoms around the time of puberty — and doctors have pondered the connection between our mental and physical health for centuries. The cautionary of tale these three girls exemplifies the sometimes devastating results when we disregard this essential connection.”

The creative team includes new RTE ensemble member Joanna Iwanicka (scenic design), with Katherine Scott (choreography), Paul Toben (lighting design), Stephanie Cluggish (costume design), Sarah D. Espinosa (sound design), and Blake Leo Burke (properties). Tanya Palmer is the dramaturg. Sam Mouryessef is the Production Manager; Andra Sturtevant is the Production Stage Manager; and Joan Sergay is the Assistant Director.

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

 

Jessica Fisch (Director) Recent credits: Straight White Men (Associate Director, Steppenwolf), Trudy, Carolyn, Martha and Regina Travel to Outer Space (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival), Fefu and Her Friends (Goodman Theatre/Rivendell Latina/o Celebration) Opulent Complex and That Thing That Time (Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Tens), The Rosenkranz Mysteries: An Evening of Magic (Royal George Theatre), Psychodramatic (A Red Orchid, Incubator Series), Traces (Feast Productions/ Jackalope Theatre), Far Away (SITE Festival), 42 Stories (Raven Theatre, [Working Title] series), MachinalSpike Heels (Northwestern University). Selected New York credits: The Realm (The Wild Project),  strive/seek/find (Abingdon Theatre), the 2009 Playwrights Horizons Stories on 5 Stories BenefitPersonal History (Ensemble Studio Theatre), The Redheaded Man (Barrow Street Theatre/Down Payment Productions/FringeNYC/FringeEncores), Dressed In Your Dreams (Public Theater/Emerging Writers Group), an adaptation of the cult 1960’s gothic vampire soap opera Dark Shadows (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Jessica was a resident director at Ensemble Studio Theater, the Playwrights Horizons Directing Resident, a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and the founding Artistic Director of Down Payment Productions. MFA: Northwestern University. 

 

Lynn Rosen (Playwright) has had works produced or developed with: Actors Theatre of Louisville, TheatreWorks (Silicon Valley), Women's Project, New Georges, Ensemble Studio Theatre (two EST/Sloan commissions), Centerstage (Baltimore), Studio Theatre, Working Theater, Barrington Stage, The New Group, The Lark, terraNOVA Collective, New Harmony, GEVA, Fault Line Theatre, The Brick Theater, Red Bull Theatre, Todd Mountain Theater Project, The Lark Development Center (Writing Fellow), 52nd Street Project, among others. Lynn was commissioned in 2016 by UCSB for her new play Bernhard which was just produced in their acclaimed Launch Pad series. She also co-writes and co-created the award-winning web series Darwin, directed by Carrie Preston, with whom she is developing two TV pilots. Darwin was named one of the “Top Ten Best Web Series of 2015” by Paste Magazine and season two is currently in production. Her short piece The Amazing America Auction, originally commissioned for Centerstage, is included in Hal Hartley’s feature film My America. Coming up: Gurley! (a musical about Helen Gurley Brown), TheatreWorks Silicon Valley Writers’ Retreat; I Love You with Playing On Air; Washed Up On The Potomac with The Pool, NYC. Lynn got her B.A. in Theatre Arts from Brandeis University and is currently a Resident Playwright at New Dramatists in NYC.

 

Meighan Gerachis (Avery) is a founding member at Rivendell and has appeared in their productions of The Electric Baby, Precious Little, The Walls, Elliot: A Soldier's Fugue, Indulgences at the Louisville Harem, Factory Girls, My Simple City, Wrens, and Ten Tiny Fingers, Nine Tiny Toes. Other credits include Blue Skies Process (Goodman), Domesticated, Our Town, The House on Mango St. (Steppenwolf), Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (Theater Wit), Solstice (A Red Orchid Theater), Measure for Measure (Chicago Shakespeare); Cloud Nine (About Face), Cigarettes and Moby Dick, Che Che Che (Latino Chicago), The Underpants (Noble Fool); and The Road to Graceland (Lifeline Theatre). Her Regional credits include: Charm (Mixed Blood Theatre) Elliot; A Soldier's Fugue (Stageworks/Hudson); and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Contact Theatre, Manchester, UK). Film credits include Batman v. Superman, At Any Price, and Virginia. Television credits include Chicago PD, Crisis, Bobby & Iza (NBC), Sirens (USA), and Battleground (Hulu).

 

Rebecca Spence (Helen) joined Rivendell Theatre Ensemble after appearing in These Shining Lives for which she received Equity Jeff Nomination in 2009.  Other RTE credits include Wrens and How the World Began (Equity Jeff Nomination for Best Actress in 2015). Her most recent work was originating the role of Mary Page Marlowe 40/44 at Steppenwolf Theatre Company where her previous credits include: The CrucibleOur Lady of 121st Street and Pacific. Other theatre credits include: In The Garden (Lookingglass Theatre Company); Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West (TimeLine Theatre Company); This (Theatre Wit); The Voysey Inheritance, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Remy Bumppo - Equity Jeff Nom.); Dracula (Defiant Theatre); Cyrano (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre). Film Credits include KingfisherRecke, Not Welcome, Bloomin’ Mud ShuffleMan of Steel, Fools, Tiger Tail in Blue, One Small Hitch, Contagion, The DilemmaAudrey the Trainwreck, Earthling, Public EnemiesGrace is Gone and The Break-Up.  Television Credits include Easy (Netflix), Chicago Fire (NBC), Crisis (NBC), Betrayal (ABC), Boss (STARZ), The Mob Doctor (FOX), Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC), The Chicago Code (FOX), The Beast (A&E) and Prison Break (FOX).

 

Tara Mallen (Kathy) is an actor, director, producer and the Artistic Director at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble.  She was most recently on stage in RTE’s production of Grizzly Mama and  the world premiere production of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat at Arena Stage. Prior to that she was in RTE’s Jeff Nominated, world premiere productions of Look, we are breathing and Rasheeda Speaking. Tara appeared in the Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of How Long Will I Cry: Stories of Youth Violence written by Chicago Journalist Miles Harvey. She was part of the ensemble in Rivendell’s World Premiere, Jeff nominated production of The Walls and played Jolene Palmer (inspired by the true-life story of Aileen Wuornos) in Rivendell’s award winning production of Self Defense, or the Death of Some Salesmen -- both productions part of Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Visiting Theater Initiative.  For Rivendell, Tara has both produced and acted in over thirty productions. She received a Joseph Jefferson award for “Supporting Actress” for her portrayal of Gwenyth in WRENS as part of that production’s Jeff-winning ensemble. She was nominated the following year for “Actress in a Principal Role” for her work in My Simple City.  Screen credits include Steven Soderbergh’s film ContagionBoss (STARZ), Chicago Fire (NBC)Chicago P.D. (NBC), Sense8 (NetFlix), indie feature FOOLS and the CBS/Sony Pictures pilot Doubt .

 

Jessica Ervin (Penelope), one of RTE’s newest members returns to Rivendell where she was last seen in Dry Land (Ester) and also understudies their touring production of Women at War. Other Chicago theatre credits include touring artist with Erasing the Distance, Herculaneum (Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble), Summer in the Parks production of The Wild (Walkabout Theater Company), 12 Ways to Play Festival (The Public House Theatre), and Collaboraction’s final Sketchbook Festival. She can also be seen in the upcoming feature film Princess Cyd. Jessica is a graduate of Ball State University with a B.F.A. in Acting, and is represented by Gray Talent Group.

 

Margaret Kusterman (Cynthia) has appeared at Next Theatre where she appeared in The Luck of the Irish and Great God Pan. She understudied the role of Patricia in The Herd at Steppenwolf, where she was also in the Ensemble of No Place Like Home. At Seanachai she was part of the Jeff-nominated ensemble of The Big Picture. She was in Tartuffe at Remy Bumppo and Uncle Vanya at Strawdog. After understudying the role of Meg in The Beauty Queen of Leenane at Steppenwolf, she played the role at Northern Stage in Vermont. Margaret has worked with Jackalope, The Gift, Defiant, Livebait, Lifeline and Center Theatre. She holds a Masters Degree in Theatre from Northwestern University. 

 

Josh Odor (Mark) most recently performed in Griffin's Winterset, The Hypocrites' You on the Moors Now, Haven Theater's The Distance and The Time of Your Life with the Artistic Home. Josh has also worked at Steppenwolf, The Goodman, TimeLine, Steep, Teatro Vista, The Inconvenience, The House, The New Colony, Collaboraction, LiveWire, Buffalo Ensemble and as a member of Pine Box.  Josh's television work includes Chicago PD, Chicago FireBetrayal and Boss.

 

Aurora Real de Asua (Lucia) is working with the Rivendell Ensemble for the first time. Past Chicago credits include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Metropolis), You On the Moors Now (u/s Hypocrites), Twelfth Night (u/s Chicago Shakespeare in the Park), as well as work with the Goodman Theatre and American Myth Project. She recently graduated from Northwestern University.

 

Hannah Toriumi (Agatha) has performed with such theaters as The Gift, Goodman Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Step Up Productions, and TOTC. She has also made appearances in commercials, film, and television. Hannah is represented by Paonessa Talent, is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf Class of 2015 and holds a BA in Theatre Performance from North Central College.

 

Title:                            The Firebirds Take the Field

Written by:                   Lynn Rosen

Directed by:                 Jessica Fisch

 

Featuring:                   RTE members Meighan Gerachis (Avery) and Rebecca Spence (Helen), RTE

Artistic Director Tara Mallen (Kathy), Jessica Ervin (Penelope); and Margaret Kusterman (Cynthia), Josh Odor (Mark), Aurora Real de Asua (Lucia), and Hannah Toriumi (Agatha).

 

Creative Team:            Katherine Scott (choreography), Joanna Iwanicka (scenic design), Paul Toben (lighting design), Stephanie Cluggish (costume design), Sarah D. Espinosa (sound design), Blake Leo Burke (properties), Sam Mouryessef (production manager), Andra Sturtevant (production stage manager), and Joan Sergay (assistant director)

 

Previews:                    April 18 – 22, 2017

Tuesday, April 18 at 8:00pm

Thursday, April 20 at 8:00pm

                                                     Friday, April 21 at 8:00pm

                                                     Saturday, April 22 at 8:00pm

VIP opening:                Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 6:00pm

Press Opening:           Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 7:00pm

Regular run:                April 27 – May 27, 2017

 

Schedule:                    Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00pm

                                    Saturdays at 4:00pm (no Saturday performance Saturday May 27)

Town Hall Discussions will follow the Saturday matinees 4/6; 4/13; 4/20

 

Location:                     Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago

Tickets:                       General Admission

Previews: $25

Regular: $38

                                    Student, Senior, Active Military, Veteran

                                                    Previews: $15

Regular: $28

 

Pay What You Can: Five seats (10% of the house) are available for each performance. Reservations are made on a first come first served basis.

 

Box Office:                  (773) 334-7728 or www.RivendellTheatre.org

 

Parking and Transportation: Free parking is available in the Senn High School parking lot (located a block and a half from the theatre behind the school off Thorndale Avenue). There is limited paid and free street parking in the area and the theatre is easily accessible via the Clark (#22) or Broadway (#36) bus and is a short walk from the Bryn Mawr Red Line El station.

 

Notes of Interest

  • This marks the World Premiere of The Firebirds Take the Field by Lynn Rosen. The play was inspired by real events in LeRoy, New York in Fall 2011 when over a dozen teenagers from the same high school developed similar mysterious symptoms including uncontrollable twitching, tics and verbal outbursts.
  • The symptoms led to a series of national interviews, and a collection of television features can be seen in this video.  A piece on the topic is available in this link to the NY Times Magazine article.
  • The Firebirds Take the Field was commissioned by Ensemble Studio Theater through support from the Alfred P. Sloane Foundation Grant. Founded in 1934 by industrialist Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the Foundation is a not-for-profit grantmaking institution that supports high quality, impartial scientific research; fosters a robust, diverse scientific workforce; strengthens public understanding and engagement with science; and promotes the health of the institutions of scientific endeavor.
  • Playwright Lynn Rosen will be attending rehearsals at Rivendell on March 26-28 and April 19-24.
  • Among the cast are four RTE Members, including Meighan Gerachis, Rebecca Spence, RTE Artistic Director Tara Mallen and RTE’s newest ensemble member, Jessica Ervin, most recently honored with a Jeff nomination for Best Actress for her work in last season’s production of Dry Land.  
  • The dramaturg is Tanya Palmer, the Goodman’s Director of New Play Development.
  • Rivendell fills an important role in the Chicago region as the only Equity theater dedicated to producing artistically challenging and original plays created by and about women.

About Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

Founded in 1994, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble advances women’s lives through the power of theatre. Rivendell cultivates the talents of women artists -- writers, actors, directors, designers and technicians – by seeking out innovative plays that explore unique female experiences and producing them in intimate, salon environments.

 

Rivendell fills an important role in the Chicago region as the only Equity theatre dedicated to producing artistically challenging and original plays created by and about women. After years of being an itinerant company, we moved into our own theater space in 2010 in Edgewater. As new members of the neighborhood, we are focused on becoming an integral community partner and serving as a catalyst to engage our audiences in a discussion of local social issues.

 

For more information about Rivendell Theater Ensemble, http://rivendelltheatre.org. Follow RTE on Facebook at Facebook.com/rivendelltheatre and on Twitter @RivendellThtr.

 

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is supported by generous grants from Allstate Insurance Company; The Lester and Hope Abelson Fund; The Alphawood Foundation; The Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development; The Chicago Community Trust; The Chicago Foundation for Women; The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; The Reva and David Logan Foundation; The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust; SIF Fund at The Chicago Community Trust; The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; The University of Illinois at Chicago Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement; Cultural Outreach Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events; and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

 

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Richly set in the intimate Royal Cabaret Theatre, The Rosenkranz Mysteries: An Evening of Magic to Lift the Spirits is a magic show with its own unique twist, separating itself from the others with its unusual theme and creative adaptations of age old illusions and tricks. Dining tables surround the prop-filled stage, which presents to us a study circa early 1900’s where one could easily see Harry Houdini practicing his arts. Unlike most magicians, renowned national illusionists Ricardo Rosenkranz is also a respected professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. That he relates magic to healing throughout the show is not just original, it is educational while his performance never loses its entertainment factor.  

The highly-polished show combines astonishing illusions set to haunting music and a series of jaw-dropping acts of mentalism using many audience members as subjects, some eager to participate and some with a nervous acquiescence that only adds to the act’s humor. Rosenkranz’s skillful ability to make his volunteers comfortable, even offering them their own chance of getting their own funny one-liners in, is part of the show’s charm.

The Rosenkranz Mysteries flows well with an even flow of humor, mystery and the seemingly unexplained tricks themselves. Often explaining the origin of an illusion while performing the act, audience members quickly become acquainted with its history, adding even more intrigue while allowing us to grasp a good feel for a turn of the twentieth century era that was rich in magic and the unknown. An era that gave us greats Houdini, Dai Vernon (“The Professor”), Eugene Laurant and Carter the Great to name a few. 

While I won’t go into details into Rosenkranz’s performed feats of magic so as not to soften the blow of their wow factor, I will say that he creates a stunning recreation of the famous Bang Sisters conjuring of spirits from the hereafter that will have you scratching your head in disbelief long afterward. I can also say that each illusion is executed with immaculate precision and done with just the perfect amount of tension building assurance.

As a professor, Dr. Ricardo Rosenkranz, who found magic at a very early age, has been integrating his illusions as a teaching aid for years to help engage his students and inspire involvement. Perhaps an unorthodox way to get your message across, but undoubtedly an effective one. 

Says Rosenkranz, “There is something beautiful and wonderful about the unknown, and I think in that sense magic and medicine share a DNA. I am committed to creating a unique experience that energizes and uplifts every audience.” The Rosenkranz Mysteries does just that.

Whether a magic buff or not, this show comes highly recommended, as it is sure to engage both believers and non-believers of the supernatural unknown. Finely directed by Northwestern graduate Jessica Fisch, featuring Ricardo Rosenkranz as “The Doctor Magician”, Jan Rose as “The Hostess” and a skull named Balsamo, this show offers a night of mystery and suspense one would be hard-pressed to forget anytime soon.

The Rosenkranz Mysteries: An Evening of Magic to Lift the Spirits is being performed at The Royal George Cabaret Theatre through December 24th. Add to the wonder of the holiday season with this true magical phenomenon. For tickets and/or more show information, visit www.TheRoyalGeargeTheatre.com.       

          

 

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