Theatre in Review

Tuesday, 19 September 2017 21:49

Review: Goodman's "A View from the Bridge"

The Goodman Theatre almost never includes a show in their subscriber season that they haven’t developed themselves. Dutch director Ivo van Hove began his vivid production of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge” in London before bringing it to Broadway in 2016. It went on to win the Tony Award for best revival. Goodman artistic director Robert Falls requisitioned the work for Chicago prior to the Broadway run. Some may remember van Hove’s contribution to the Goodman’s 2009 Eugene O’Neill Fest. His arresting version of “Mourning Becomes Electra” performed entirely in Dutch was a sure stand out.

Ivo van Hove’s vision for Arthur Miller is uniquely his own in that it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen. If a standard Miller production bores you, then imagine an electric guitar version of Miller. The scenery and scene changes have been cut and what’s left is a minimalist masterclass in strong directorial choices. Minimalism doesn’t mean a lack of spectacle. The white cube contains the play to a small portion of the stage, allowing for audience members to sit right on stage. Each movement of this highly choreographed production creates a stunning visual.

Suffice it to say, you’ll never see “A View from the Bridge” like this again. van Hove’s intention is to create an “ultimate” version of classic American works through a European lens. What he reflects back is interesting. The concluding scene is a work of installation art, and leaves you with an unsettling feeling that we are but animals battling it out at the bottom. As with his interpretation of O’Neill’s “Mourning Becomes Electra”, van Hove is unafraid of heightening the subtle sexuality in the script. The blocking between Catherine (Catherine Combs) and Eddie Carbone (Ian Bedford) is highly suggestive and pushes the envelope even further than Miller had in 1953.

There’s no scenery, no costumes and no tricks for this cast to hide behind. Since the New York production, some of the parts have been recast, but many have not. Catherine Combs reprises her role as Catherine, but is no stranger to the Goodman stage. Combs’ performance is transfixing. She’s able to balance the juvenile qualities of a young girl in a falsetto, but convey the deep-voiced desires of a woman with an unexpected control. Playing her adoptive mother Beatrice, Andrus Nichols, commands each scene. The script would make this character a weakling, unable to stand up to her hulking husband. Nichols brings a hardened strength to the role that propels the final scenes to full throttle.

This production will stick with you. With our nation’s president touting severe immigration reform, this play comes at a critical point in history. Arthur Miller wrote plays that addressed social issues. In many ways Eddie Carbone is how Miller saw America, as something afraid of change. When we hear white supremacists chanting “You will not replace us” on national TV, it’s hard not to draw comparisons. This is an essential play for our times. Ivo van Hove has created a striking and extremely intense version of “A View from the Bridge” that Arthur Miller himself would applaud.

Through October 15th at the Goodman Theatre. 170 North Dearborn. 312-443-3811

*Now extended through October 22nd

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Casting is complete for the three “developmental productions” featured in Goodman Theatre’s 14thannual New Stages festival—a free celebration of new works by some of the country’s finest established and emerging playwrights. These three plays, which are staged in repertory following two weeks of rehearsal, include Lottery Day by Ike Holter, directed by Lili-Anne Brown; Continuity by Bess Wohl, directed by Annie Tippe; and Twilight Bowl by Rebecca Gilman, directed by Erica Weiss. Developmental productions are designed by Kevin Depinet (Set), Noël Huntzinger (Costumes for Lottery Day and Twilight Bowl), Birgit Rattenborg Wise (Costumes for Continuity), Jesse Klug (Lights) and Richard Woodbury (Sound). Full cast lists are included below. New Stages runs September 20 – October 8 in the 350-seat flexible Owen Theatre; to reserve FREE tickets, call 312.443.3800, visit GoodmanTheatre.org/NewStagesFestival or the box office (170 N. Dearborn). For more information about “Industry Professionals Weekend,” visit GoodmanTheatre.org/Professionals.

In addition, four one-time-only staged readings and a first look at an immersive work-in-progress appear during the final weekend of the festival (“Professionals Weekend”), including How to Catch Creation by Christina Anderson, directed by Jess McLeod (October 6 at 10:30am); Eden Prairie, 1971 by Mat Smart, directed by Henry Wishcamper (October 6 at 2pm); a preview presentation of POSTNATION by Mikhael Tara Garver(October 6 at 4:30pm); The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona written and directed by José Rivera(October 7 at 10am); and We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time by David Cale, music by Matthew Dean Marsh and directed by Tony Speciale (October 7 at 2pm).

Since New Stages’ 2004 inception, more than 70 plays have been produced as a developmental production or staged reading. Nearly half of these plays were authored by playwrights of color and/or authored by female playwrights. More than one-third of all plays developed in New Stages have received a world premiere production at the Goodman or another leading U.S. theater. The Goodman’s 2017/2018 Season features the world premiere of Ellen Fairey’s Support Group for Men, which originated in New Stages in 2016. The Goodman’s immediate past season featured acclaimed works that began at the festival: The Magic Play by Andrew Hinderaker, King of the Yeesby Lauren Yee and Objects in the Mirror by Charles Smith.

The Goodman is grateful for the generosity of its New Work sponsors, including: the Time Warner Foundation, Lead Support of New Play Development; The Pritzker-Pucker Foundation, Major Support of New Play Development; The Glasser and Rosenthal Family and the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Support of New Work Development; and The Joyce Foundation, Principal Support for Diverse Artistic and Professional Development.

Casting for 2017 New Stages Festival Developmental Productions

Lottery Day
By Ike Holter, directed by Lili-Anne Brown
Appears in repertory, September 20 – October 7
In his latest play, acclaimed Chicago playwright Ike Holter integrates characters from his past works into a new story about the cost of belonging and the gift of community.
When an act of violence robs Mallory of her family, she creates a new one by opening her home to a wild array of neighbors, activists and artists. Tonight, she’s throwing them a party of her own invention—“Lottery Day”—where anyone could win, but everyone has something to lose.

CAST:
Aurora Adachi-Winter…………...Tori
Bear Bellinger…………………….Nunley
J. Nicole Brooks………………….Mallory
McKenzie Chinn……………….....Cassandra
Sydney Charles…………………..Zora
Robert Cornelius………………....Robinson
Anthony Irons……………………..Avery
Monica Orozco……………………Vivien
Tommy Rivera-Vega……………..Ezekiel
Pat Whalen………………………..Ricky

Continuity
By Bess Wohl, directed by Annie Tippe
Appears in repertory, September 22 – October 8
Bess Wohl’s startlingly funny new play examines what is worth saving and what isn’t—especially when facing the end of the world.
As her big budget thriller about climate change and eco-terrorism falls behind schedule, film director Maria attempts to salvage the production from the behind-the-scenes drama of its cast and screenwriter.

CAST:
Rammel Chan…………………....The PA
Amanda Drinkall………………...Nicole (Eve)
Marc Grapey……………………..David Claxton
Ryan McBride……………………Jake (George)
Bill McGough…………………….Larry
Rebecca Spence………………...Maria
Netta Walker……………………..Lily (Anna)
*This production also features voice-over roles portrayed by McKenzie Chinn (Second AD), Robert Cornelius(Sound Guy), Anthony Irons (Camera OP), Pat Whalen (First AD) and Aurora Adachi-Winter (2nd PA).

Twilight Bowl
By Rebecca Gilman, directed by Erica Weiss
Appears in repertory, September 24 – October 8

In her latest play, Goodman Artistic Associate Rebecca Gilman depicts six young women about to embark on their adult lives. But how do they—or we—define success?
Cousins Sam and Jaycee grew up together in a small Wisconsin town. Sam, who sharpened her bowling skills at the local alley, is now heading to college on scholarship. But Jaycee’s future isn’t looking so bright. As the young women and their friends face adulthood, the alley becomes a place to celebrate, mourn, and forge new identities. But can their bonds survive as their paths diverge? And is success always earned, or is it sometimes a matter of luck?

CAST:
Hayley Burgess………………...Clarice
Heather Chrisler………………..Jaycee
Angela Morris…………………...Maddy
Becca Savoy…………………….Sam
Mary Taylor………………………Brielle
Anne E. Thompson…………….Sharlene

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Collaboraction, Chicago's social issue-driven contemporary theater, announced today its line-up of 24 world premiere short pieces for PEACEBOOK, a free, collaborative city-wide festival of theater, dance, music, visual art and spoken word, all focused on cultivating peace in Chicago.

Actor David Dastmalchian (Twin Peaks), Sandra Delgado (La Havana Madrid), GQ (Q Brothers), Kevin Coval (Louder Than a Bomb), noted director Mignon McPherson Stewart, Sir Taylor (Example Setters) and Bril Barrett (Making a Difference Dance) are among the artists and activists creating fresh new works in support of Chicago's peace movement. 

Each piece is seven minutes or less, and range from solos to large collaborations. 

In sum, the 24 "chapters" that comprise PEACEBOOK unite more than 200 artists, from household names to neighborhood peace activists, all intent on creating real connections with Chicagoans in communities around the city.
 
PEACEBOOK launches with a one-day, marathon premiere of all 24 chapters on Saturday, August 26, 2017 in the Goodman's 350-seat flexible Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. Show times are 3 p.m. (PEACEBOOK Englewood), 5:30 p.m. (PEACEBOOK Hermosa) and 8 p.m. (PEACEBOOK Austin). 

All three programs are presented free of charge. Free ticket reservations, with an option to donate what you can, will launch Wednesday, July 19 at 10 a.m. To reserve tickets and for more information, visit collaboraction.org/peacebook2017, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Collaboraction, (312) 226-9633.
 
Following their Goodman debuts, the 24 acts will be divided into three programs of eight works that will tour to these south, west and north side neighborhoods next fall as part of the Chicago Park District's Nights Out in the Parks program:
 
PEACEBOOK Englewood
Hamilton Park, 513 W. 72nd St.
Thursday and Friday, October 5 and 6 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 7   Dome of Dance competition at 3 p.m., community meal and peace panel at 4 p.m., show at 5 p.m.
 
PEACEBOOK Hermosa
Kelvyn Park, 4438 W. Wrightwood Ave.
Thursday and Friday, October 19 and 20 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 21   Dome of Dance competition at 3 p.m., community meal and peace panel at 4 p.m., show at 5 p.m.
 
PEACEBOOK Austin
La Follette Park, 1333 N. Laramie Ave.
Thursday and Friday, November 2 and 3 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 4  Dome of Dance competition at 3 p.m., community meal and peace panel at 4 p.m., show at 5 p.m. 

Park performances are free. Each night features a different musical guest. Before every Saturday show is a free community meal and peace fair with panels, workshops and community organizations from a diverse array of Chicago peacemakers.
 
"In these times of rising homicides and racial tension in Chicago, we believe in the power of theater to incite empathy, knowledge, dialogue and change around peace in Chicago," said Collaboraction Artistic Director Anthony Moseley. "With over 200 artists from all throughout the city and partnerships with the Goodman Theatre and the Chicago Park District, we are establishing PEACEBOOK as a place for our city to come together around this most critical social issue with our future at stake." 
 
For PEACEBOOK updates, visit collaboraction.org, follow the company on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube or Instagram, or call the Collaboraction box office, (312) 226-9633.

More about the plays

The following 24 prayers for peace were selected from over 100 submissions of theater, dance and spoken word works, all envisioning a more peaceful Chicago:

PEACEBOOK Englewood (Hamilton Park):
 
Dandelions
by Marsha Estell, directed by Mignon McPherson Stewart
A heartfelt story about loss and how violence and peace are not always mutually exclusive.
 
Example Setters
by The Example Setters
A spoken word piece by teens who want to set the Example in the city of Chicago.
 
#Hashtag Who's Next The Musical
written and directed by Frederick Alphonso
A song that invites us to join/live the justice revolution through facing our constructed narratives around crime.
 
Hoods
by Kaye Winks, directed by Schoen Smith
The Chicago family, made up of different neighborhoods in the city, sits down for a group art therapy session to talk out their long-established communication problems.
 
June-Dastmalchian Collaboration (working title)
devised by David Dastmalchian and Aisha June
LA film, TV, and stage actor, David Dastmalchian (The Dark Knight, Ant Man, Twin Peaks) returns to Chicago to team up with Collaboraction Teen Peacemaker ensemble member, Aisha June, to write and perform in a devised work about peace in Chicago.
 
Obama, the Musical
by Yuri Basho Lane, directed by Elizabeth Lovelady
A beat-box musical examining Barack Obama in three stages of his life.
 
Triumphs, Burdens, and Laughs
choreographed by Elysia Banks
South Side native, Elysia Banks, choreographed this dance piece to highlight the resilience of South Side communities and pay homage to their grit and fortitude.
 
What Do You See?
by Brian Keys, directed by Kristina Valada-Viars
Keys' solo show examines the confrontation between a black man and society that takes us to the core of our prejudices.

 
PEACEBOOK Hermosa (Kelvyn Park):
 

Barbarism
by Jason Grote, directed by Iris Sowalt
A woman with PTSD and apocalyptic survivor's guilt takes audiences on an exploration of the gilded cages in her mind as she reveals the fragility of the human spirit.
 
Conflict
devised by the Collaboraction Teen Peacemaker Ensemble, directed by Luis Crespo
The Collaboraction Teen Peacemaker Ensemble grapples with the real cost of hate in Chicago and its future.
 
Eckhart Park Echoes
by Nancy Garcia Loza, directed by Juan Castaneda
A peaceful protest by way of storytelling. Garcia Loza's solo show offers a snapshot of her aunt's life as it unfolded on a Chicago block for forty years in West Town.
 
Finding a Loving Motherland
devised by Sami Hussain Ismat
A satirical tragi-comedy about a refugee escaping Syria only to encounter ridiculous bureaucratic and racial discrimination, fear of white supremacy in Trump's America, and crime in his new neighborhood.
 
A People's History of the Block
by Kevin Coval
Coval, of Louder Than a Bomb, explores peace through the words of real Chicagoans he met while touring with his newest poetry book, "A People's History of Chicago."
 
Recipe for Peace
devised by Dionne Hawkins
Tune into this cooking show where the host prepares the ingredients to create peace, by the artistic director of the Austin Town Hall Theatre Company.
Rangel-Delgado Collaboration (working title)
adapted and directed by Sandra Delgado, from the writings of Sammy Rangel
Acclaimed Chicago actress Sandra Delgado collaborates with peace activist and TED Talk standout Sammy Rangel, author of "Fourbears: Myths of Forgiveness," to tell his inspirational story of hope and redemption.
 
We'll Be Doing This Together
by Ann Kreitman
This non-traditional, interactive theater piece asks the audience to create gentle and joyful connections between strangers.

 
PEACEBOOK Austin (La Follette Park):

17 to (New) Life
devised by GQ and Tyrone Taylor
GQ of the Q Brothers and Tyrone Taylor co-create and perform this ritual of healing based on Taylor's real life events, including murder, incarceration, freedom and search for transformation.
 
Some Thoughts On Race and Racism In Chicago From Some People Who Aren't Sure What To Do And Who Sat Down And Talked About It
by Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman, directed by Josh Sobel
This piece of verbatim theatre talks about race through white eyes, using words from a collection of interviews that shed light on how we see ourselves and each other as a community.
 
Dear Masculinity
by Eneale Pickett, directed by Rain Wilson
This play, by a west side native, is a collection of letters written by men to their masculinity.
 
EmpoWOMENt
devised by Bril Barrett
A team of female dancers proved tap-dance can be an effective form of protest and a powerful catalyst for change in this work choreographed by the acclaimed founder of M.A.D.D. (Making a Difference Dancing).
 
High and Dry
by Greg Hardigan, directed by Genevieve Fowler
A man has a chance encounter with a woman on the street and must confront his role in creating peace in Chicago.
 
The High Priestess
devised by Dr. Laura Biagi
Inspired by the two cards of the major Arcana of the Tarot, this performance art piece revolves around the power to give social meaning to sounds and the concept of failing and undoing by meditating on four alphabets: Sanskrit, Arabic, Hebrew and Latin.
 
The Making of an Example Setter
by Sir Taylor, directed by Anthony Moseley
Collaboraction Artistic Director Anthony Moseley teams up with the leader of The Example Setters, former Jesse White Tumbler and member of the U.S. Olympics team, Sir Taylor, to tell a new story of healing in Chicago. 
 
Quiet Time
by Erica Mann Ramis, directed by Nat Swift
A woman's thoughts are played out on stage as she meditates in an effort to navigate the maze of her grief after the loss of her husband. 

About Collaboraction

Collaboraction (collaboraction.org) collaborates with artists, community activists, and citizens from throughout the city to create original theatrical experiences that push artistic boundaries and explore critical social issues with a diverse community of Chicagoans. Collaboraction has worked with over 3,000 artists to bring more than 60 productions and events to upwards of 250,000 audience members.

Production highlights include Collaboraction's acclaimed series of Crime Scene productions responding to Chicago's current crime epidemic, 15 years of the SKETCHBOOK Festival, Sarah Moeller's Forgotten Future: The Education Project in 2014, 2010's Chicago premiere of 1001 by Jason Grote, 2008's world premiere of Jon by George Saunders and directed by Seth Bockley, and 2007's The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow: an instant message with excitable music by Rolin Jones.
Collaboraction, based on the third floor of Wicker Park's historic Flat Iron Arts Building with three theatre spaces, is led by Artistic Director Anthony Moseley and a dedicated staff and board of directors. Collaboraction is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation via the MacArthur Foundation, and the Wicker Park & Bucktown SSA #33 Chamber of Commerce. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

For tickets and information, visit collaboraction.org or call (312) 226-9633. 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

In Ah Wilderness, Eugene O’Neill tackles the emotional struggles of an upper middle class family, with sibling rivalries and marital and romantic dynamics that ring true today.

Goodman Theatre’s current production struck gold, however, with Niall Cunningham - he's a TV star of Life in Pieces - in the lead role as a teenage boy struggling to establish his independence from his family, amid the discovery of romance.

The play is set on July 4, 1906, though it was written in 1932, and was said to be dashed off rather quickly by the playwriight. O’Neill is more familiar for his darker, plays like The Iceman Cometh, Mourning Becomes Electra, or Long Day’s Journey into Night. Ah Wilderness is a lighter affair, O’Neill’s only comedy and produced less frequently, it throws a different light on his mastery as a playwright.  

With a 15-member cast, Ah Wilderness centers on the tribulations of the 16-year-old Richard Miller (Niall Cunningham's role), whose fevered passions have been ignited by emotionally charged and sexually suggestive writing of Byron and Wilde. Their poetry was considered risqué in small town America. At the time the country was swept up in efforts at prohibition, driven by the rise of evangelical Protestantism and its view of saloon culture as corrupt and ungodly.

It’s a perfect summer play, set at a waterside cottage, and Ah Wilderness contrasts this young love with the unrequited passion by the teen’s Uncle, and the mature and settled love of his parents. The show is a major production, and Steve Scott’s direction is pitch perfect.

The big score, though, is Cunningham as a poetry-obsessed teenager who is driven to a night of rebellion, expressed in this case by accompanying a buddy of his older brother (Travis Knight plays that pretentious, pipe-smoking collegiate brother, Arthur Miller) to a bawdy house – where he drinks and gets himself into trouble.

Cunningham, 22 in real life, gives a most credible and informed performance to the conflicted teenager riddled with angst. He is butting against the newly found hypocrisy of everyday life, and has been driven off the edge when his young neighbor and romantic interest, Muriel McComber (Ayssette Muñoz) sends a Dear John letter. As we suspect, her father made her write it, and the two are later reconciled, with Shakespearean-flavored romantic jousting.   

The rest of the cast is evenly excellent. While the characters on some levels must play foils for Cunningham's Miller, O'Neill explores with some tenderness the seasoned love of the family patriarch (Randall Newsome as Nat Miller) and matriarch (Ora Jones is wonderful as Essie Miller), and that of the unrequited love of the maternal uncle (Larry Bates as Sid Davis) and paternal aunt (Kate Fry brings depth to Lily Miller).  

The set (Todd Rosenthal) is classic and beautifully portrays its time, while also functioning seamlessly (along with lighting by Aaron Spivey) to move us from scene to scene. Costumes (Amy Clark) are exquisitely detailed.

Ah, Wilderness!, which runs at the Goodman through July 23, shows off O'Neill's skillfulness and his ability to charm the audience. It is highly recommended.

Published in Theatre in Review

On the heels of critically-acclaimed sold-out runs at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and The Miracle Center in Logan Square, Teatro Vista’s La Havana Madrid by Sandra Delgado extends its run at Goodman Theatre this summer, July 21 – August 20. Chicago’s fabled 1960's nightclub, La Havana Madrid, comes bursting back to life in “an immersive, wholly enjoyable experience” (Chicago Reader) complete with live music and “enough dancing and bonhomie to tempt you away from your little table down front” (Chicago Tribune). Directed by Teatro Vista ensemble member Cheryl Lynn Bruce, the production was inspired by true stories of Cuban, Puerto Rican and Colombian immigrants who found refuge in the nightclub. Delgado leads the eight-member cast (a full list appears below) as a mystical woman who conjures stories and vibrant songs performed live onstage each night by Colombian-American musician Roberto "Carpacho" Marin and his band of 30 years, Carpacho y Su Super Combo.

La Havana Madrid appears July 21 - August 20 in the Owen Theatre (Opening Night is Wednesday, July 26 at 7:30pm). Tickets ($30-$50; subject to change) go on sale Wednesday, June 28; visit GoodmanTheatre.org/LaHavanaMadrid or call the box office at (312) 443-3800. La Havana Madrid is recommended for ages 12 and up.
 
“My journey with La Havana Madrid is a dream come true. It has been an absolute joy and honor to share this story with my fellow Chicagoans and I am incredibly grateful that we get to keep the love alive this summer,” said playwright and co-star Sandra Delgado. “It is especially sweet to come home to Goodman Theatre, where I wrote La Havana Madrid as part of the Playwright's Unit in the 2015/2016 Season. I cannot wait to invite audiences into the Owen Theatre, which will be transformed into the La Havana Madrid nightclub, night after night.”
 
In addition to Delgado, the eight-member cast also includes Teatro Vista ensemble members Tommy Rivera-Vega and Marvin Quijada; and newcomers Mike Oquendo, Donovan Diaz and Krystal Ortiz, who round out the cast as Cuban, Colombian and Puerto Rican patrons, staff and musicians who all met, danced, loved and lost at La Havana Madrid. Original cast members Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel and Phoebe González are unable to continue with the production and their roles are being recast for the Goodman remount. The design team includes Ashley Woods (set), Elsa Hiltner (costumes), Heather Sparling (lights), Mikhail Fiksel (sound), Liviu Pasare (projections and video design) and William Carlos Angulo (choreography).
 
A Brief History about La Havana Madrid Nightclub (Originally Located on Belmont and Sheffield)
 
In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Latinos from Caribbean countries such as Puerto Rico and Cuba settled all along Chicago's lakefront, from North Avenue to Devon. Although from different countries, music brought them together. Their shared rhythms—African rhythms—became the guaguanco, the mambo and the merengue. Now in the United States, these rhythms merged with traditional big band sounds and eventually became salsa. On the North side of Chicago, a handful of Latino music clubs opened up: Coco Loco on Lincoln Avenue, The Mirror Lounge on North Avenue and La Havana Madrid on Belmont and Sheffield. Luis “Witto” Aloma, a Cuban-born player for the Chicago White Sox, opened the club in the early 1960s to create a place for his Cuban friends to drink coffee and play cards and dominoes. Along the way, La Havana Madrid grew into a more lavish supper club with live Cuban musical acts, before it changed hands and Puerto Rican TV and radio host took over the club. La Havana Madrid closed in the late 1960s and later became the popular folk club The Quiet Knight. Today, the same second floor space is occupied by Milio’s Hair Studio.
 
About Teatro Vista

Teatro Vista’s 2017/2018 season opens with The Goodman Theatre remount of La Havana Madrid. Teatro Vista produces, develops and commissions plays that explore the wealth and variety of the human experience from a Latinx perspective. The company provides work and professional advancement opportunities for Latinx theater artists, with special emphasis on the company’s ensemble members, and seeks to enhance the curricular goals of Chicago students through theatre. Teatro Vista was recently celebrated as one of “Chicago’s Cultural Leaders” by the Arts & Business Council of Chicago and received the League of Chicago Theatre’s Artistic Leadership Award.

For the development of La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista and Delgado received from The Chicago Community Trust, and the 2015 Joyce Award. Delgado also received a 3Arts 3AP Project Grant and developed the script as a member of the 2015/2016 Playwright’s Unit at Goodman Theatre.

Teatro Vista is supported by The Joyce Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, Alphawood Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events of the City of Chicago, The Shubert Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, Purple Group, Cumberland Irving and Vidal & Associates, Inc. and The Saints.

For more information, visit TeatroVista.org, on Twitter (@TeatroVista), Facebook and Instagram.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre
Friday, 02 June 2017 17:10

Goodman Theatre Cancels "Pamplona" Run

Goodman Theatre announced today that it will cancel all remaining performances of Pamplona starring Stacy Keach as Ernest Hemingway—a world premiere by Jim McGrath, directed by Artistic Director Robert Falls. The decision comes after Keach underwent medical testing following his opening night performance, which was halted by Falls midway through when it became clear that Keach was struggling. According to Keach’s family, doctors treating the stage and screen star have advised a period of rest and recuperation; as such, the Goodman has made the decision to cancel the remainder of the run. Out of respect for Keach and his family’s wishes for privacy, there are no additional comments at this time.
 
Ticket holders will be offered a full refund, or one of the following options: a Goodman Gift Certificate equal to the value of the tickets; tickets to the upcoming Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O’Neill, directed by Steve Scott; or a tax deductible donation to benefit the theater’s Education and Engagement programs. A Goodman Theatre Ticket Services representative will be in touch with patrons to make arrangements.
 
Pamplona has been the rare, joyous process working with a friend and colleague to realize a passion project. Stacy Keach is one of America’s finest actors, and he and playwright Jim McGrath have rendered a beautiful and complex new piece of theater about an American icon that audiences in 11 preview performances had the opportunity to witness and reward with tremendous enthusiasm and standing ovations,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “I am in awe of the work Stacy has done, and especially of the courage he’s displayed in the face of adversity, and I look forward to our future collaborations. We also wish to thank our Chicago audiences and members of the media for their gracious support during this unusual circumstance.”
 
Pamplona, an 80-minute, one-man show starring Keach as the great American author Ernest Hemingway, was scheduled to run May 19 through June 25 in the Goodman’s 350-seat Owen Theatre. Keach, who has no understudy given the unique nature of the play and his extensive involvement in the project’s development, completed every preview performance from May 19-28. The May 30 opening night was halted mid-performance, and the following three performances were cancelled as Keach underwent medical testing.
 
The Goodman is grateful for its Pamplona sponsors, including The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation (Major Support) and Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP (Contributing Sponsor) with additional support from the Director’s Society.
 
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.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Objects in the Mirror, an outstanding play having its premier at Goodman Theatre, will soon have you wanting to know more about its author, Charles Smith, a Chicago playwright.  

Starring Daniel Kyri as Shedrick Yarkpai, this play springs from the true story of the real life Yarkpai, a refugee who fled Liberia in the aftermath of its first Civil War, struggling for 12 years across hostile terrain and through refugee camps in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

Excellent performances and a creative set and lighting make this a show not to miss, especially for the wonderful writing of Charles Smith. Breon Arzell plays cousin Zaza Workolo; Ryan Kitley is Rob Mosher; and Lily Mojekwu as Shedrick’s mother Luopu Workolo is just spectacular – she steals all her scenes.

The real life Shedrick Yarkpai eventually made his way to Adelaide, Australia, and as fate would have it became an actor. And so, playwright Smith met him and heard his tale while staging another of his plays there - Free Man of Color (it won a 2004 Jeff Award and has been staged widely, including the Goodman).

Shedrick Yarkpai’s passage through the wilderness alone would be a worthy story, bringing our attention to the privation in Liberia wrought by years of civil chaos. But this play would not succeed as it does, unless it can hold our attention and keep us in our seats. 

And here Smith’s skillful craft shines through, along with director Chuck Smith and the creative team, who have turned the years-long odyssey of the protagonists, Shedrick and his uncle John Workolo (Allen Gilmore is terrific) – they ate grass, lived in the bush, both life and limbs, literally, endangered by violent, machete wielding warriors – and condensed it into an engaging trek, showing geography, educating us on the history, but all in an entertaining way, unlikely as this may seem.

Objects in the Mirror is so much more than a topical recount of Liberian suffering and struggle. Smith also puts before us the psychological and emotional toll on all refugees who must give up so much of their culture, and themselves, in resettling. Among the things so striking about Smith’s play is how he holds our interest in Shedrick’s odyssey. But he subordinates it to a more charged dramatic concern: the personal compromises refugees must make in escaping, and losses that can never be reclaimed.

In a way that only theater can, we engage and experience the personal emotional stress. And while we know of the trauma, what Smith conveys is the suffering from loss of identity, and of dreams. Shedrick has adopted a false identity to make it through border crossings – but he regrets the loss of his name.

Shedrick is a dreamer. He is also a storyteller, as is Smith, and the characters he has created. "Through storytelling, the play ascends to a powerful examination of truth and falsity, and the powers of persuasion. All good stories tell a strand of the truth," says Uncle John.

Once in Adelaide, Yarkpai finds work with a supportive Australian government agent – but Shedrick’s uncle John is fearful it will blow their cover. The debate through several scenes in which different characters tell their version of the parts of Shedrick's story is the stuff of great theater. 

The creative team includes Riccardo Hernandez (set design), Mike Tutaj (projection design), John Culbert (lighting design), Birgit Rattenborg Wise (costume design), Ray Nardelli (sound design). Briana J. Fahey is the production stage manager.

Objects in the Mirror runs through June 4 at the Goodman Theatre. It is highly recommended.

Published in Theatre in Review

King of the Yees, now playing at the Goodman Theatre through April 30, is full of laughs and wisdom. Both touching and endearing, the play - with themes of family, community and tradition - takes a look at one Chinese-American family’s attempt to bridge the generation gap.

 

Written by Lauren Yee and directed by Joshua Kahan Brody, King of the Yees features Lauren and her father Larry Yee as central characters in this off-beat, quirky, yet totally relevant production that explores the history of patriarchal family groups like the Yee Fung Toy association in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

 

King of the Yees is only kind of true—just like the stories your father once told you as a child,” said Lauren. “Growing up, I never understood what the Yee Fung Toy – a club of Yees – was, or why people were a part of it. With this play, I’ve been able to explore not only my own self-consciousness within my community, but it’s also shed light on how that is a universal experience. With every generation, there is a feeling of being unworthy and being unprepared to take up the cultural mantle. In a way, this play is a hero’s quest that celebrates those feelings of inadequacy.”

 

Established hundreds of years ago, family associations were a way to provide resources and community in the face of the discrimination that so many Chinese-American families experienced. These mainly men’s clubs became very powerful over the years. However, as a new generation began to take its place in world, these groups that limited the roles of women among other things, were often viewed as obsolete and unappealing.

 

King of the Yees examines that waning influence and the emotional impact on families in a performance that is infectious, interactive, metaphysical but always heartfelt.

 

Larry Yee, brilliantly played by Francis Jue, is the gregarious and engaging head of the Yee family association, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Yee line. Lauren (Stephenie Soohyun Park) is dismissive of the purpose and necessity of such a club and to the surprise and dismay of her father plans to move to Berlin with her Jewish husband. A disappointed Larry suddenly goes missing and Lauren’s frantic search for him takes her to an abstract world full of symbolism from the past with lessons for the future. That journey leads her not only to her father but to a better understanding of the family association and the community and traditions he is trying to preserve.

 

King of the Yees is filled with a small but versatile cast (Daniel Smith, Angel Lin and Rammel Chan) who capably play a variety of roles during the two-act production.

 

The set design is simple but effective, mainly consisting of a large ceremonial door that is very significant to the storyline. Also, the use of projections on the back wall of the stage was very creative. The design team includes William Boles (set), Izumi Inaba (costumes), Heather Gilbert (lighting), Mikhail Fiksel (sound) and Mike Tutaj (projections).  

 

Recommended.

 

King of the Yees runs through April 30 in the Owen Theatre at the Goodman. Tickets are available online at GoodmanTheatre.org/Yees.

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Artistic Director Robert Falls announces Goodman Theatre’s new 2017/2018 Season, which builds on the theater’s 40-year commitment to producing works that are representative of American society. In announcing the new season, Falls serves up a dynamic mix of works from culturally and aesthetically diverse playwrights—new plays and revisited classics that address the most significant issues facing the country today. The 2017/2018 Season, beginning in September 2017 and continuing through July 2018, includes plays on both of the Goodman’s stages: the 856-seat Albert Theatre and 350-seat flexible Owen Theatre. New this season, the Goodman introduces a variety of “Membership” options for its audiences; 5-play Albert packages start at $100. Call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org/Power. Individual tickets go on sale in early August.  American Airlines is the Major Production Supporter, Exelon/ComEd is the Major Corporate Sponsor of Having Our Say, Mayer Brown is the Corporate Sponsor Partner for The Wolves and the Time Warner Foundation is the Lead Supporter of New Play Development.

 

“Heroic and hopeful, challenging and illuminating, Goodman Theatre’s 2017/2018 Season is a collection of plays that reflects the times in which we live—powerful works that hold up a mirror to who we are, what has brought us here and question where we will go in the future,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “These are plays that feel particularly relevant at this moment, as we face a darkly divided country and society. As a cultural institution devoted for four decades to the ideals of diversity and community, we must give voice to all ideas, all communities on our stages and in our engagement center programs—with a special eye to those who, because of their ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation, age or religious principles, might be marginalized or excluded altogether. The power of theater to unite, engage and inspire us is needed now more than ever.”

 

Continued Falls, “We open our Albert Theatre season with the Chicago premiere of one of the most thrilling and important recent revivals of a classic work, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, reimagined by director Ivo van Hove—a production that earned enormous acclaim on Broadway and in London’s West End. Miller writes about the marginalization of immigrant culture, and an America that may not be excluded from the tragedy of that. Next, I am excited to direct the world premiere of Blind Date by Rogelio Martinez, a fascinating backstage glimpse of one of history’s oddest couples—Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev—infused with sly humor and unexpected wisdom. Following Blind Date comes my new production of An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen—a play that addresses corruption, greed and destruction of the environment, and is, sadly, as timely today as when it was written in 1882. In the spring, we’ll revive the warm, human and altogether wonderful Having Our Say by Emily Mann, directed by Chuck Smith, which follows two remarkable centenarians—Sadie and Bessie Delany, sisters and Civil Rights pioneers—and their struggles for equality. The season concludes with the world premiere of Support Group for Men by Ellen Fairey, directed by Kimberly Senior—an uproarious, topical comedy about middle-aged men in a changing world, where traditional notions of gender are increasingly passé. Ellen’s new play was an audience favorite in our 2016 New Stages Festival, and is a perfect match for the talents of our frequent collaborator Kimberly Senior.”

 

Continued Falls, “In the Owen Theatre, we begin with Yasmina’s Necklace by Rohina Malik, directed by Ann Filmer, a graceful, moving new play that invites audiences into the living rooms of Muslim families who themselves represent a collision of cultures and experiences—Latinx and Arab, immigrants and refugees—and celebrates our similarities. We are proud to produce this play, which we developed in the 2010 New Stages Festival and which enjoyed an extended world premiere production last year at 16th Street Theater, under Ann’s direction. Next is the Chicago premiere of The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe, directed by Vanessa Stalling—a thrilling new work fueled by the raw adolescence of a high school girls soccer team, whose off-Broadway premiere was counted among The New York Times’ ‘Best Theater of 2016.’ I’m excited for Vanessa, our former Goodman Maggio Fellow and one of the most exciting emerging directors in Chicago, to make her Goodman directing debut. We’ll conclude the Owen Theatre season with the epic Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by Niegel Smith. It’s an honor to present the Chicago premiere of the brilliant and powerful new play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Topdog/Underdog and host Niegel, the artistic director of New York’s Flea Theater, in his Goodman debut.”

 

Falls continued, “In addition, we will present a springtime limited engagement of the complex and provocative new play, Until the Flood by Dael Orlandersmith, about the ways trauma manifests itself in a community—in this case, Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager. Finally, we are proud to present the 14th annual New Stages Festival of new plays, which includes six new plays (three developmental productions in repertory + three staged readings, TBA), and celebrate the 40th anniversary of A Christmas Carol, directed by Henry Wishcamper and starring Larry Yando in his 10th turn as Ebenezer Scrooge.”

  

About the Productions and Events in Goodman Theatre’s 2017/2018 Season

 

New this season, the Goodman introduces a variety of “Membership” options for its audiences; call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org/Power to join or learn more. Individual tickets go on sale beginning in August. Plays, artists and dates are subject to change.

 

2017/2018 SUBSCRIPTION SEASON

                                                                                                                                                

The Young Vic Production of Arthur Miller’s View from the Bridge

Directed by Ivo van Hove

September 9 – October 15, 2017 in the Albert Theatre

A Chicago Debut 

 

Visionary Belgian director Ivo van Hove injects a raw, pulsating energy into Arthur Miller’s 1955 classic—“powerhouse theater that will leave you breathless!” (The Hollywood Reporter)—recipient of 2016 Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Play and Best Director. Direct from sold-out runs on Broadway and the West End comes the Chicago debut of van Hove’s “magnetic, electrifying, astonishingly bold” (London Evening Standard), “radically reimagined” (The Washington Post) revival of Miller’s famed drama. Brooklyn longshoreman Eddie Carbone welcomes his immigrant cousins to America. But when one of them falls for Eddie’s young niece, his jealous mistrust exposes an unspeakable secret—one that drives him to commit the ultimate betrayal.

 

Yasmina’s Necklace

By Rohina Malik

Directed by Ann Filmer

October 20 – November 19, 2017 in the Owen Theatre

The refugee experience is illuminated by this “sweet and hopeful story” (Chicago Tribune) about love and renewal in the face of past devastation. Challenged by his Iraqi roots, Abdul Samee has obscured his Muslim identity in favor of assimilation—he’s changed his name to Sam, and even tells his co-workers that he’s Italian.

But his attitudes change when he meets Yasmina, a refugee from his father’s homeland whose own experiences have hardened her to the possibilities of love. As a tentative relationship between the two blossoms into something more, each begins to find hope in the future, buoyed by the power of family, connection and the embracing of their shared culture.

 

Blind Date

By Rogelio Martinez

Directed by Robert Falls

January 20 – February 25, 2018 in the Albert Theatre

A World Premiere

 

Blind Date is a backstage glimpse of one of the 20th century’s landmark historical events. In an era before Twitter and eHarmony, two of history’s oddest couples seek to thaw the seemingly intractable relationship between the United States and Soviet Russia. Despite their advisors’ efforts to keep them on track, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev eschew conventional protocols to discuss pop culture and old movies—while their wives mirror their husbands’ negotiations in a passive-aggressive tango over tea and fashion choices. A compelling and edgy comic journey through the intricacies of statesmanship.

 

The Wolves

By Sarah DeLappe

Directed by Vanessa Stalling

February 9 – March 11, 2018 in the Owen Theatre

A Chicago Premiere

 

The Wolves is an unconventional exploration of the pitfalls of friendship and coming maturity, as seen through the struggles of a girls’ athletic team. In this “incandescent portrait of an indoor soccer team” (The New York Times), nine teenage girls stretch, train, and argue about everything from the meaningful to the mundane as they try to make sense of the world from the relative safety of their suburban patch of AstroTurf. Infused with the raw jagged energy of adolescence, The Wolves offers a refreshingly complex depiction of girls navigating friendships, growing up, confronting the future—and trying to score a few goals.

 

An Enemy of the People

By Henrik Ibsen

Directed by Robert Falls

March 10 – April 15, 2018 in the Albert Theatre

 

Ibsen’s masterwork, “a play so necessary, so exhilarating to experience” (The Village Voice), finds renewed immediacy in a daring new production from Artistic Director Robert Falls. The contamination of a resort town’s water supply sets the stage for a battle involving the town’s respected mayor, Peter Stockmann, and his brother Thomas, a respected doctor. As the brothers become locked in a combative struggle between political wisdom and personal ethics, the economic fate of the community—and the unity of the town’s residents—hangs in the balance.

 

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years

By Emily Mann

Adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany, with Amy Hill Hearth

Directed by Chuck Smith

May 5 – June 10, 2018 in the Albert Theatre

 

Celebrate the story of a century as lived by “two strong, vibrant women dispensing joy and wisdom” (Chicago Tribune) in this funny and heartfelt family drama. The Delany sisters, Sadie and Bessie, remain best friends and roommates even as they pass their centennial birthdays. As they prepare a meal in honor of their late father, a former slave, they reminisce about the joys and challenges of their lives: coming to maturity in the Jim Crow South, experiencing the Harlem Renaissance and rising to unimagined professional prominence. Having Our Say showcases the sisters’ unique, indomitable spirits as they fondly recall meeting beloved historical figures and denounce prejudices that infect the country.

 

Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)

By Suzan-Lori Parks

Directed by Niegel Smith

May 25 – June 24, 2018 in the Owen Theatre

A Chicago Premiere

 

Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks’ “blazingly original” (The Washington Post) Civil War epic serves up “an American story as much about our present as it is about our past” (The Los Angeles Times). Hero, a Texas slave, faces a simple yet monumental choice: join his master in the Confederate army to win his freedom—or remain enslaved at the plantation. As he debates leaving his lover for what may be another empty promise, Hero must take charge of his life, even when much remains beyond his control. Filled with music, wit and poetic wisdom, the Pulitzer Prize finalist play Father Comes Home from the Wars challenges its audience to navigate their own moral compass in a country that both unites and divides.

 

Support Group for Men

By Ellen Fairey

Directed by Kimberly Senior

June 23 – July 29, 2018 in the Albert Theatre 

A World Premiere

 

A hilarious exploration of what happens when society’s new normal doesn’t seem so normal to everyone. Thursday night in Wrigleyville is “Guys’ Night” for a group of longtime pals. Instead of letting off steam over baseball they’ve formed a support group–with its “No Ladies” policy strictly enforced–in which they can vent about dashed romances, stalled careers and other middle-age maladies. But when an unexpected visitor crashes their party, the guys’ traditional notions of masculinity are exploded. This topical, Chicago-flavored comedy gleefully dissects the ever-changing role of gender in today’s culture—and proves that understanding is sometimes found in the least likely of places.

ADDITIONAL PLAYS AND EVENTS

 

New Stages Festival

Six New Plays (Three Developmental Productions + Three Staged Readings) TBA

September 20 – October 8, 2017 (“Industry Weekend” is October 6-8) in the Owen Theatre

 

The 14th annual New Stages festival of new plays includes three developmental productions in repertory and three staged readings. Three productions in the 2016/2017 Season emerged from New Stages, including The Magic Play, Objects in the Mirror and King of the Yees. Founded in 2004, the New Stages Festival is a celebration of innovative new plays designed to give playwrights an opportunity to take risks and experiment. New Stages offers Chicago theatergoers a first look at dozens of plays, many of which have gone on to become successful full productions—including Noah Haidle’s Smokefall and Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined.

 

Until the Flood

By Dael Orlandersmith

Directed by Neel Keller

April 27 – May 13, 2018 in the Owen Theatre

A Limited Engagement Chicago Premiere

 

The 2014 fatal police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown brought international attention to the town of Ferguson, Missouri, and the festering history of race relations in America. Based on dozens of interviews with Ferguson residents, award-winning playwright, performer and Goodman Artistic Associate Dael Orlandersmith brings to life a riveting exploration of the tragedy and its aftermath, from the perspective of such disparate participants as a middle-aged black teacher, an elderly barbershop owner, and a white policeman.  The result:  a richly complex mosaic of a community—and a country—in trauma. 

 

A Christmas Carol (40th annual production)

Adapted by Tom Creamer, directed by Henry Wishcamper

November 18 – December 31, 2017 in the Albert Theatre

 

Acclaimed Chicago actor Larry Yando returns for his 10th season at Goodman Theatre as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, directed for the fifth year by Artistic Associate Henry Wishcamper. Nearly 1.5 million theatergoers have attended “the crown jewel of the holiday season” (Daily Herald) since the Goodman established it as an annual offering in 1978—a time when only a handful of US theaters mounted the production. Dickens’ holiday classic is the iconic tale of greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, whose sizable bank account is only matched by his disdain for the holidays. One Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by four ghosts who take him on a spectacular adventure through his past, present and future, helping him rediscover the joys of life, love and friendship. Former cast members include stage and screen notables Jessie Mueller, Joe Minoso, Del Close, Harry J. Lennix, Felicia P. Fields, Raul Esparza, Sally Murphy and Frank Galati.

 

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 marked 30 years as Artistic Director in the 2016/2017 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

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
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