Rehearsals are underway for Fernanda Coppel’s “King Liz,” Windy City Playhouse’s second show of the 2017 season, playing May 24 through July 16. Under the direction of Chuck Smith, the “fierce and compelling” (The New York Times) production stars Lanise Shelley as Liz Rico, a powerful NBA sports agent vying for a promotion to head her entire company. When Freddie Luna (played by Eric Gerard), a young, talented rookie, comes under her wing, Liz faces the biggest challenge of her career: trust her gut with the new player, or risk everything she’s built for herself. The cast of “King Liz” also features Philip Edward Van Lear as Coach Jones, Jackie Alamillo as Gabby Fuentes, Caron Buinis as Barbara Flowers and Frank Nall as Mr. Candy.
Performances for “King Liz” begin May 24 and run through July 16. Press Nights for the production are Wednesday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($15-$55) are on sale now and can be purchased at the Windy City Playhouse Box Office online or by calling the Box Office at (773) 891-8985.
“I was very drawn to the major themes in this production, especially focusing on Liz as an independent, self-reliant woman of color in a male-dominated field. It's not often that you get to see such a strong female character on stage, who owes no one anything,” said Windy City Playhouse Artistic Director Amy Rubenstein. “We’ve curated programming featuring the talented artists in the production to help our audiences connect with the material on a deeper level, while embracing the casual, fun atmosphere the Playhouse is known for.”
In conjunction with “King Liz,” Windy City Playhouse’s Talkback series offers patrons an intimate Q&A experience with an array of artists to learn more about the creative process behind each production. The series begins with “King Liz” playwright Fernanda Coppel, who will lead the discussion behind her inspiration for the play on Saturday, May 27 immediately following the 8 p.m. performance.
Also new, the Playhouse begins the weekly post-performance Nightcap series, inviting patrons to grab a drink at the bar and partake in an intimate discussion around “King Liz” with a member of the cast or creative team. To kick off the series, cast member Caron Buinis will lead the discussion on Wednesday, June 7 and Philip Edward Van Lear will lead the discussion on Wednesday, June 14. The series takes place every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. through the duration of the run. For the complete schedule of special events at the Playhouse, visit WindyCityPlayhouse.com/King-Liz.
No experience at the Playhouse is complete without a trip to their signature bar, and “King Liz” is no different. The production-specific cocktails, available throughout the run, include:
· Operation: Pump Up - Pimm’s, Sprite, Muddled Cucumber, Lemon
· Very Cocky Chick - Amaretto, Luxardo Cherry Liquor, Sprite, Sweet and Sour, Grenadine
· Dynamic Dunker - Bourbon, Ginger Liqueur, Hard Cider, Lime
· Diamond in the Rough - Mezcal, Simple Syrup, Lime, Ginger Beer
· Summer in a Glass (The Playhouse’s Signature Sangria) - Rosé, Vodka, Lemon, Strawberries, Sprite
“Wine Wednesdays” are returning to the Playhouse for “King Liz,” which includes $10 off all bottles of wine at the bar. For the complete beer, wine and cocktail menu, click here.
The performance schedule for “King Liz” is as follows: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. For a detailed performance schedule visit WindyCityPlayhouse.com/King-Liz. Tickets for “King Liz” are on sale now and range from $15-$55—with discounts available for seniors and students—and can be purchased by calling 773-891-8985 or visiting WindyCityPlayhouse.com.
The creative team for “King Liz” includes Courtney O’Neill (Scenic Design), Elsa Hiltner (Costume Design), Jared Gooding (Lighting Design), Thomas Dixon (Sound Design) and Devon Green (Properties Design). Donald E. Claxon is the Production Stage Manager. The understudies for the production are Brianna Buckley, Joe Chazaray, David Goodloe, Will Casey, Marisol Doblado and Teri Schnaubelt.
About Windy City Playhouse
Windy City Playhouse, Chicago's most sophisticated not-for-profit Equity theater, aims to expand beyond the traditional theatergoing experience by offering audience members a night of high-quality entertainment with a full-service bar, in a lounge-like atmosphere. Windy City Playhouse premiered in March of 2015, with the inaugural production “End Days.” Lauded by audiences and critics alike, Windy City Playhouse promises to rock Chicago's theater scene.
The season continues at Windy City Playhouse with Gina Gionfriddo’s dark comedy, “Becky Shaw” directed by Jeff Award-winner Scott Weinstein. Performances begin September 21.
For more information, visit WindyCityPlayhouse.com and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The cast and creative team is complete for Objects in the Mirror, a Goodman Theatre-commissioned world premiere by Charles Smith. Directed by Resident Director Chuck Smith, Objects in the Mirror is inspired by the playwright’s real-life friendship with a Liberian refugee-turned-actor, Shedrick Yarkpai—portrayed by Daniel Kyri, in his Goodman debut. The production was developed through the 2015 New Stages festival and features a 5-member cast who brings to life the gripping account of one Liberian refugee’s attempts to find peace by exposing a potentially dangerous lifelong secret. Objects in the Mirror appears April 29 through June 4 (opening night is May 8) in the Albert Theatre. Tickets ($20-$75; subject to change) are now on sale and available at GoodmanTheatre.org/Objects, the box office (170 N. Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800.
“In Objects in the Mirror, we’re placed directly into the lives of a family of refugees fleeing the violence of their homeland; we walk several miles in their shoes which forces us to take a good look at what we seem to be afraid of,” said Goodman Theatre Resident Director Chuck Smith, who marks his third world premiere collaboration with Smith—Knock Me a Kiss (Victory Gardens Theater) and Gospel According to James (Indiana Repertory Theatre). “I’m thrilled to reunite with my close friend Charles and excited to work with this exceptional cast and creative team to share Shedrick’s life story with Chicagoland audiences and beyond.”
In 2009, [Charles] Smith traveled to Adelaide, Australia, to see a production of his play Free Man of Color, which featured Shedrick Yarkpai (Kyri), a young Liberian actor, in the title role. He learned about the actor’s tumultuous journey from war-torn Liberia through a number of refugee camps in Western Africa, before his final relocation to Australia. In addition to Kyri, the cast also includes Breon Arzell (Zaza Workolo), Allen Gilmore (John Workolo), Ryan Kitley (Rob Mosher) and Lily Mojekwu (Luopu Workolo), who reprises her role from the 2015 New Stages developmental production. The creative team includes Riccardo Hernandez (sets), Birgit Rattenborg-Wise (costumes), John Culbert (lights), Ray Nardelli (sound) and Mike Tutaj (projections).
Conagra Brands is the Major Corporate Sponsor, PwC is the Corporate Sponsor Partner, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing Major Production Support and it was awarded the New Play Award by the Edgerton Foundation.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
CHARLES SMITH (Playwright, Objects in the Mirror) Black Star Line was commissioned and produced by Goodman Theatre and his play Objects in the Mirror appeared at the 2015 New Stages Festival. As a former member of the Victory Gardens Theater Playwrights Ensemble, Smith’s world premiere works include Knock Me a Kiss (directed by Chuck Smith); Freefall, Jelly Belly, Denmark, The Sutherland and Cane (all directed by Dennis Zacek); Takunda and the Jeff Award-winning Free Man of Color (directed by Andrea J. Diamond). His plays Gospel According to James (also directed by Chuck Smith), Sister Carrie and Les Tois Dumas were all commissioned and produced by Indiana Repertory Theatre. His play Pudd’nhead Wilson was commissioned and produced off-Broadway by The Acting Company after a national tour. His work has also been produced at various theaters nationally and in Australia, and may be obtained through Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing, Northwestern Press, Swallow Press and other publishers. Smith currently teaches playwriting at Ohio University.
CHUCK SMITH (Director ) is a member of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees and is Goodman Theatre’s Resident Director. He is also a resident director at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, Florida. Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of Pullman Porter Blues; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Race; The Good Negro; Proof and The Story; the world premieres of By the Music of the Spheres and The Gift Horse; James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, which transferred to Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company, where it won the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award for Best Direction; A Raisin in the Sun; Blues for an Alabama Sky; August Wilson’s Two Trains Running and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Ain’t Misbehavin’; the 1993 to 1995 productions of A Christmas Carol; Crumbs From the Table of Joy; Vivisections from a Blown Mind and The Meeting. He served as dramaturg for the Goodman’s world-premiere production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. He directed the New York premiere of Knock Me a Kiss and The Hooch for the New Federal Theatre and the world premiere of Knock Me a Kiss at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, where his other directing credits include Master Harold... and the Boys, Home, Dame Lorraine and Eden, for which he received a Jeff Award nomination. Regionally, Smith directed Death and the King’s Horseman (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Birdie Blue (Seattle Repertory Theatre), The Story (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Blues for an Alabama Sky (Alabama Shakespeare Festival) and The Last Season (Robey Theatre Company). At Columbia College he was facilitator of the Theodore Ward Prize playwriting contest for 20 years and editor of the contest anthologies Seven Black Plays and Best Black Plays. He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay Crime of Innocence and was theatrical director for the Emmy-winning Fast Break to Glory and the Emmy-nominated The Martin Luther King Suite. He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff-nominated Suspenders and the Jeff-winning musical Po’. His directing credits include productions at Fisk University, Roosevelt University, Eclipse Theatre, ETA, Black Ensemble Theater, Northlight Theatre, MPAACT, Congo Square Theatre Company, The New Regal Theater, Kuumba Theatre Company, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Pegasus Players, the Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, Illinois and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He is a 2003 inductee into the Chicago State University Gwendolyn Brooks Center’s Literary Hall of Fame and a 2001 Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year. He is the proud recipient of the 1982 Paul Robeson Award and the 1997 Award of Merit presented by the Black Theater Alliance of Chicago.
BREON ARZELL (Zaza Workolo) makes his Goodman Theatre debut. A Detroit native, Arezell was most recently seen in Kokandy Production's The Wiz, which he also choreographed. Other Chicago credits include Rutherford’s Travels (Pegasus Theatre Chicago); You on the Moors Now, All Our Tragic (Jeff Award for Best Ensemble) and Johanna Faustus (The Hypocrites); The Hairy Ape (Oracle Productions, Jeff Award for Artistic Specialization for Choreography and Jeff nomination for Best Ensemble); Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys (Raven Theatre, Jeff Award for Best Ensemble); War Song (The Plagiarists); Superman 2050 (Theater Unspeakable) and more. He has also choreographed productions for Porchlight Music Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Writers Theater and The Hypocrites. A graduate of Miami of Ohio University, his talents have allowed him to work and perform in London, Wales, Denmark, Singapore, Italy, Germany and across the U.S. BreonArzell.com
ALLEN GILMORE (John Workolo) returns to the Goodman, where he previously appeared in The Matchmaker and two productions of A Christmas Carol. Chicago credits include The African Company Presents Richard the Third and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (Orgie award, Jeff and Black Theatre Alliance Award nominations) at Congo Square Theatre; Cyrano, Endgame, Sizwe Banzi is Dead (Jeff, BTA and Black Excellence Award nominations), Jitney, The Misanthrope, Seven Guitars, Waiting for Godot (Jeff, BTA and Black Excellence Award nominations), The Good Book and One Man Two Guvnors at Court Theatre; Argonautika and Arabian Nights at Lookingglass Theatre Company and also on tour; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (BroadwayWorld nomination) at Writers Theatre and Fabulation at Next Theatre Company. Gilmore is a 2015 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow, a 2015 3Arts awardee, a U.S. Army Infantry veteran and an ensemble member of Congo Square Theatre Company.
RYAN KITLEY (Rob Mosher) returns to the Goodman, where he most recently appeared in the New Stages Festival production of Support Group for Men. He also recently portrayed various historical figures in the six-month run of Assassination Theater. Additional credits include major roles at Royal George Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Writers Theatre, The Matrix Theater, Colony Theater, The Organic Theatre, Mercury Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Piven Theatre Workshop, Theatre at the Center and Meadow Brook Theatre. Kitley received a Jeff Award for Best Ensemble in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Shattered Globe and a Jeff nomination for Best Supporting Actor in The Big Funk with Clock Productions. Film and television credits include Chicago P.D., Empire, Chicago Fire, Boss, Detroit 1-8-7, Turks, Early Edition, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Miss March, Soul Survivors, Barbershop II, Dig Two Graves and Guidance, among others. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA.
DANIEL KYRI (Shedrick Yakrpai) makes his Goodman Theatre debut. Chicago credits include Monster (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Tug of War Part 1 & 2: Foreign Fire and Civil Strife (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and Moby Dick (Lookingglass Theatre Company). Regional credits include Look Away (TheatreSquared). Television and film credits include Henry Gamble's Birthday Party, Unexpected (Kris Swanberg) and Kid Nation. Kyri is represented by Stewart Talent.
LILY MOJEKWU (Luopa Workolo) returns to the Goodman, where she last appeared in the New Stages Festival production of Objects in the Mirror and Bugs of the Pigs in the Lions, also directed by Chuck Smith. Chicago credits include Look, We are Breathing (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble); The Commons of Pensacola (Northlight Theatre); Luck of the Irish, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter, The Overwhelming and Well (Next Theatre); Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); A Twist of Water (Route 66 Theatre Company); FML: How Carson McCullers Saved My Life, The Elephant Man and understudy performances in The Brother Sister Plays and Intimate Apparel (Steppenwolf Theatre Company). Mojekwu has also spent summers in Frankfort, Michigan performing in Richard III, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, King Lear, Henry V and Love’s Labors Lost with the Chicago-based Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre. Recent television credits include the pilot episode of Mind Games and several appearances on Chicago Fire.
About Goodman Theatre
America’s “Best Regional Theatre” (Time magazine) and “Chicago’s flagship resident stage” (Chicago Tribune), Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit organization distinguished by the quality and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Founded in 1925, the Goodman is led by Robert Falls— “Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune), who marks 30 years as Artistic Director this season—and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, who is celebrated for his vision and leadership over nearly four decades. Dedicated to new plays, reimagined classics and large-scale musical theater works, Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned hundreds of awards for artistic excellence, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, nearly 160 Jeff Awards and more. Over the past three decades, audiences have experienced more than 150 world or American premieres, 30 major musical productions, as well as nationally and internationally celebrated productions of classic works (including Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman, Long Day’s Journey into Night, King Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy). In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” For nearly four decades, the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has created a new generation of theatergoers.
The 2016 opening of the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (“the Alice”) launched the next phase in the Goodman’s decades-long commitment as an arts and community organization dedicated to educating Chicago youth and promoting lifelong learning. Programs are offered year-round and free of charge. Eighty-five percent of the Goodman’s youth program participants come from underserved communities.
Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.
Today, Goodman Theatre leadership includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Joan E. Clifford is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women’s Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.
Visit the Goodman virtually at GoodmanTheatre.org—including OnStage+ for insider information—and on Twitter (@GoodmanTheatre), Facebook and Instagram.