Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:
Northlight Theatre continues its 2017-18 season with
Written by Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Ron OJ Parson
Featuring Bernard Gilbert, Kelvin Roston Jr., AnJi White and Jacqueline Williams
January 25 – March 3, 2018
Here at ChiIL Live Shows we're eager to catch Skeleton Crew, which concludes Dominique Morisseau's acclaimed trilogy. I had an informal chat with director, Ron OJ Parson recently and he peaked my interest in the production even more. He's even enlisted input on the show from a long time friend who has first hand experience working in the Detroit auto plants. I've thoroughly enjoyed Parson's directing prowess all over Chicago in the past few years, including Dominique Morisseau's Paradise Blue which was produced at Timeline Theatre in 2017. I'll be out for the press opening February 2nd, so check back soon for my full review.
Skeleton Crew is part of a 3-part cycle of play by Dominique Morisseau set in Detroit Previously, Detroit ‘67 was produced at Northlight and Paradise Blue was produced locally at TimeLine. Ron OJ Parson directed all of them.
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?
Playwright Dominique Morisseau was one of the Top 20 Most Produced Playwrights in America in 2015–16, with ten productions of her plays being produced. She is a two-time award winner of the NAACP Image Award, which celebrates the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts, as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors.
Her triptych spans decades of a sociopolitical evolution in her home city. With Skeleton Crew, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Morisseau looks at life on the assembly line—which feels like a conveyor belt to oblivion. Set in 2008, the diminishing workers are in a race to stay ahead of the collapsing economy, fighting for their financial lives. While much of the country has their eyes set on Wall Street, more concerned with their portfolios than their neighbors, the working majority don’t own stock and struggle to pay the rent. Dominique re-focuses our gaze on the majority, whose hourly wage becomes more precious by the day.”
The cast of Skeleton Crew includes Bernard Gilbert (Dez), Kelvin Roston Jr. (Reggie), Jacqueline Williams (Faye) and AnJi White (Shanita).
The creative team includes Scott Davis (Scenic Design), Samantha C. Jones (Costume Design), Keith Parham (Lighting Design), and Ray Nardelli (Sound Design). The production stage manager is Rita Vreeland.
Northlight’s production of Skeleton Crew is supported in part by The Chicago Community Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, The Pauls Foundation, Carol and Steve Mullins, Bill and Eleanor Revelle, Hagerty Consulting, and Alan Zunamon and Nancy Cunniff.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Dominique Morisseau (Playwright) is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre), and Detroit ’67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie’s (Premiere Stages). She is also the book writer on the new musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations (Berkeley Repertory Theatre). Dominique is alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, Women’s Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab and Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Conference. Her work has been commissioned by the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Women’s Project, South Coast Rep, People’s Light and Theatre, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Penumbra Theatre. She recently served as Co‐Producer on the Showtime series “Shameless.” Awards include: Stavis Playwriting Award, NAACP Image Award, Spirit of Detroit Award, Weissberger Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-‐Cooper New American Play Prize, TEER Spirit Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama (Detroit ’67), Audelco and OBIE Award (Skeleton Crew).
Ron OJ Parson (Director) is a native of Buffalo, New York and is a graduate of the The University of Michigan’s professional theatre program. He is a resident artist at Court and former co-founder and artistic director of The Onyx Theatre Ensemble. Chicago credits include Court, Timeline (Company Member), Victory Gardens, Northlight, Teatro Vista (Associate Artist), Goodman, Black Ensemble, ETA, Congo Square, Chicago Dramatist, Urban Theatre Company, Steppenwolf, Chicago Theatre Company, City Lit, and Windy City Playhouse. Regional credits include Virginia Stage Company, Portland Stage, Studio Theatre, Studio Arena Theatre, Roundabout, Mechanic Theatre, Center Stage Baltimore, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Rep, St. Louis Black Rep, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Geva Theatre, Signature Theatre (New York), Alliance Theatre, South Coast Rep, Kansas City Rep, and Pasadena Playhouse. Ron has also directed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Recent directing credits include Apt. 3A, East Texas Hot Links, Paradise Blue, Blues For An Alabama Sky, 5 Guys Named Moe, and Fences. Ron is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA, AEA, and SDC.
Bernard Gilbert (Dez) makes his Northlight debut. His other theatre credits include The Royale (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; and City Theatre, Pittsburgh), the world premiere of Man in the Ring (Court), Letters Home (Griffin Theatre), and Our Lady of 121st Street (Eclipse Theatre). Bernard is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul.
Kelvin Roston, Jr. previously appeared at Northlight in Morisseau’s Detroit ’67. He most recently appeared in the acclaimed production of Five Guys Named Moe at Court Theatre.
Kelvin Roston Jr. (Reggie) returns to Northlight where he was last seen as Sly in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit ’67. Kelvin most recently played Four-eyed Moe in Court’s Five Guys Named Moe. Chicago credits: Congo Square, Court, Paramount, Marriott, Goodman, ITC, Eta, Writers, Black Ensemble, Timeline, Northlight, and Steppenwolf. Regional: The Black Rep, Fulton, New Theatre Restaurant, MSMT, and Baltimore Center Stage. International: Orb, Festival Hall. TV: Chicago Med, Chicago PD, KFC, and Instant Care. Film: Get a Job, Princess Cyd, and Breathing Room. He is a 4-time Jeff Award nominee, Jeff winner (Best Ensemble, East Texas Hotlinks, Writers), 3-time BTA Award winner, and 2-time Black Excellence Award winner. He wrote and performed the play Twisted Melodies for which he won the Light in the Darkness Public Education Award from NAMI. Kelvin is an Artistic Associate of Congo Square, a proud member of AEA, and represented by Paonessa Talent.
AnJi White (Shanita) makes her Northlight debut. Chicago credits include Monticello (Aurora Works Theatre); Great & Terrible Wizard of Oz (House); The Last Wife, Sunset Baby (Timeline); The Project(s), Rent (ATC); Fabulation, or the Re-education of Undine (Pulse Theatre); Forgotten Future Remount (Collaboraction Theatre); Mud, River, Stone (Eclipse Theatre); Ithaka (Infusion Theatre) and Soul Samarai (Infusion Theatre). TV & Film credits: Chicago PD, Empire, Home for the Weekend (Pilot), and Hope Springs Eternal. Represented by Paonessa Talent, AnJi has received 3 BTAA nominations, 1 Jeff nomination and received the BTAA for Best Actress for Timeline’s Sunset Baby.
Jacqueline Williams recently returned from Los Angeles where she reprised her role of Mae, opposite Phylicia Rashad, in Academy Award winner Tarell McCraney’s Head of Passes at Mark Taper Forum.
Jacqueline Williams (Faye) returns to Northlight after reprising her role of Mae in Academy Award winner Tarell McCraney’s Head of Passes at Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles opposite Phylicia Rashad. Northlight appearances include The Miser, Gees Bend, and Po’ Boy Tango. Broadway: Young Man From Atlanta. Off Broadway: From The Mississippi Delta (Oprah Winfrey co-produced), Talented Tenth, Mill Fire. Select Chicago credits include The Christians, Airline Highway, Head of Passes, Brother/Sister Plays (Steppenwolf); Man in the Ring, Gem of the Ocean, Fences, Caroline, or Change (Court); The House That Will Not Stand, A Wonder In My Soul (Victory Gardens); Pullman Porter Blues, stop.reset, Camino Real, Trinity River Plays and many more (Goodman). She has worked extensively regionally including tours with the Johannesbug’s Market Theatre and Crowns. TV/Film: Turks, recurring on Chicago Fire, PD, and Med; Empire, Prison Break, Heartlock, The Break Up, The Lake House. Her many awards/nominations include Jeff, Helen Hayes, BTAA, American Arts Council, Lunt-Fontanne (Shakespeare) Fellow and Excellence in the Arts.
The Box Office is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, in Skokie. Box Office hours are Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm, and Saturdays 12:00pm-5:00pm. On performance days, the box office hours are extended through showtime. The Box Office is closed on Sundays, except on performance days when it is open two hours prior to showtime.
Curtain times are: Tuesdays: 7:30pm (January 30 only); Wednesdays: 1:00pm (except February 21) and 7:30pm; Thursdays: 7:30pm; Fridays: 8:00pm; Saturdays: 2:30pm (except January 27) and 8:00pm; and Sundays: 2:30pm and 7:00pm (January 28 and February 25 only).
Northlight is continuing its popular special event series in conjunction with each production. All events are free.
Backstage with BJ: Skeleton Crew
Friday, January 19 at noon
at Northlight Theatre
9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL
Backstage with BJ is a mid-day discussion with Artistic Director BJ Jones, featuring special guest artists, actors, directors and designers, offering behind-the-scenes insight into each production while it is still in rehearsal. Backstage with BJ for Skeleton Crew will last approximately one hour. The event is free but reservations are required. Visit https://northlight.org/events/backstage-with-bj/ to reserve your spot.
Inside Look: Skeleton Crew
Tuesday, February 6 at 2:00pm
Evanston Public Library
1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston, IL
Explore the social and historical context of Skeleton Crew through a discussion and Q&A session with artists related to the production.
Community Panel Discussion
Saturday, February 10 at 3:00pm Curt’s Café 2922 Central St, Evanston, IL The play portrays employees on the brink of probable unemployment, facing the pressures of mortgage payments, raising children, and potential homelessness. Northlight's Artistic team will engage with community organizations to discuss the relevance of the play's themes to Chicago's North Shore and what we can do to make a difference. Panelists include: Karen Tollenar Demorest, Executive Director, Youth Job Center; Andi Drileck, Vice President of Workforce Services, National Able Network; and Sue Loelbach, Manager of Advocacy, Connections for the Homeless.
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 43rd season, the organization has mounted over 200 productions, including nearly 40 world premieres. Northlight has earned 203 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.
Previews: January 25 – February 1, 2018
Regular run: February 3 – March 3, 2018
Tuesdays: 7:30pm (January 30 only)
Wednesdays: 1:00pm (except February 21) and 7:30pm
Saturdays: 2:30pm (except January 27) and 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:30pm and 7:00pm (January 28 and February 25 only)
Location: Northlight Theatre is located at the North Shore
Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd,
Tickets: Previews: $30-$57
Regular run: $30-$81
Student tickets are $15, any performance
(subject to availability)
Box Office:The Box Office is located at 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie.