Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
Brown Paper Box Co. 2018/2019 Season
Brown Paper Box Co.’s 2018/2019 season poster designs by Artistic Associate Charlie Sheets.
Following their Jeff Recommended run of They’re Playing Our Song and the Chicago Reader Recommended Speech & Debate, Brown Paper Box Co. is proud to announce its 2018/2019 season. With an exciting regional premiere fresh out of New York - cast by lottery each night live on stage, a Chicago storefront chamber musical premiere, a new cabaret at Mary’s Attic in Andersonville, and a Spring 2019 Special Event to be announced soon, BPBCo.’s upcoming season has a little bit of something for everyone & everybody.
"Our staff got about 6 pages into reading Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ EVERYBODY and immediately knew it was the perfect play for our new season,” says Artistic Director Kristi Szczepanek. “And when William & Stephanie brought us their bare-bones concept for Little Women the Musical, it seemed like a great compliment. Thematically, the shows are very different, but we hope to tie them together aesthetically, as we focus this year on our ‘theatre, plain and simple’ roots."
Brown Paper Box Co. presents An Existential Cabaret
Host: Kristi Szczepanek, Accompanist: Emilie Modaff
May 4 and 5, 2018
Mary’s Attic above Hamburger Mary’s
Inspired by life’s great mysteries presented in our first play in our 2018/2019 season, EVERYBODY, An Existential Cabaret will be a little different from our previous cabarets! As we begin to explore life, love, and morality through Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ modern morality play, guests at Mary’s Attic can expect to hear the musical stylings of Love, Death, Stuff, Friendship, Understanding, and even God — just to name a few. Join us on May 4th and 5th at Mary’s Attic to celebrate our season with the Brown Paper Box Co. family - and a few special guests!
Playwright: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Director: Erin Shea Brady
July 13 - August 12, 2018
Pride Films & Plays’ The Buena
This modern riff on the 15th-century morality play Everyman follows Everybody (chosen from the cast by lottery at each performance) as they travel down a road toward life’s greatest mystery. Making its regional premiere in Chicago following its 2017 world premiere off-Broadway, playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Gloria, An Octoroon) bases his new play on a medieval morality play that instructs sinners on how to repent and seek redemption.
“EVERYBODY harnesses theatricality to drop these conversations into our laps in a way that is hopeful, engaging, and unique,” says director Erin Shea Brady. “The actors literally get to try on different roles. They literally get to step into different points of view, giving us a new opportunity to explore bias and conditioning. There will be some permutations of this piece that have never happened before, that an audience is seeing for the very first time. It’s a huge, exciting experiment and it is electric. EVERYBODY is in on the rarity, taking ‘different every night’ to a whole new level.”
Erin Shea Brady (Director) joined the BPBCo. team this year as Production Director. She is the founder of No Stakes Theater Project, an organization dedicated to supporting the creative risks of emerging artists, where she has produced several productions, staged readings, and initiatives since 2014. Directing credits include: Kander & Ebb's Cabaret, Sharr White’s Annapurna (staged reading) and Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (No Stakes Theater Project); Stands (Spartan Theater, staged reading) and Anna Schutz's Prodigy: A Modern Family Portrait (staged reading). In assistant direction and dramaturgy roles, Erin has worked on productions at the Goodman, TimeLine, A Red Orchid, Jackalope, Northlight, and Remy Bumppo. A graduate from the directing program at Columbia College Chicago, her training also includes internships at Steppenwolf (Casting Department), American Blues (Performance Intern, Waiting for Lefty), Northlight and A Red Orchid. Erin is also a contributing critic at Newcity Stage and Perform.Ink and is hard at work on her new play, Revival.
LITTLE WOMEN The Musical
Music: Jason Howland, Lyrics: Mindi Dickstein Book: Allan Knee
Musical Direction: T.J. Anderson
Co-Directors: M. William Panek and Stephanie Rohr
Opening January 2019
This timeless, captivating story is brought to life in this Broadway chamber musical filled with personal discovery, heartache, hope and everlasting love. Based on Louisa May Alcott’s life, Little Women follows the adventures of sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy March. Jo is trying to sell her stories for publication, but the publishers are not interested. Her friend, Professor Bhaer, tells her that she has to do better and write more from herself. Begrudgingly taking this advice, Jo weaves the story of herself and her sisters and their experience growing up in Civil War America.
Under the co-direction of company members M. William Panek and Stephanie Rohr and musical direction of artistic associate T.J. Anderson, Brown Paper Box Co.’s production will focus on the season's mantra of "theatre, plain and simple." The "back to the basics" approach will re-orchestrate the Broadway score for single piano to transport Jo's memories and the events of the musical into her childhood attic. The bare-bones reimagining will elevate the March sisters’ relationships as important focal points rather than simple plot points.
M. William Panek (Co-Director) is a proud graduate of the University of Illinois' Theatre Department. Most recent he collaborated with Zach Zimmerman on Luke Babylon: Christian Magician and Spell: An Interactive Solo Performance at iO Chicago, iO New York, The Duplex New York, and the Annoyance Theatre. Previously directing: Now. Here. This., [title of show] (Jeff Award Nominated), A New Brain, Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls, Godspell, To Tree (world premiere), Reefer Madness! The Musical in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Casting Associate: EVERYBODY, The Baltimore Waltz, Julius Caesar, Spike Heels. Cabaret: "Positively Present," "Mary'z With a Z," "Proud at Mary's" at Mary's Attic, "Spring Forward Fail Back" at Uncommon Ground, and "BPB Yearbook" "Character Breakdown" at Davenport's. William served as an artistic associate with The Orchard Project in Hunter, NY, production assistant for the 24-Hour Musicals at Joe's Pub, and the business management assistant at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Stephanie Rohr (Co-Director) has worked with BPBCo. as director of Spike Heels, assistant director of A New Brain, and coordinator for Spring Forward Fail Back cabaret. She has performed with BPBCo. in Godspell, Aloha Say the Pretty Girls, and [title of show]. Stephanie holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Drake University and an MA in Classical Acting from Drama Centre London. She made her West End debut in Opera Up Close's Olivier Award winning production of La Boheme, and also performed at the Roundhouse Theatre and the Barbican Centre in London. Chicago credits include: High Fidelity (Refuge Theatre), Macbeth, Reservoir Dogs, and Predator: The Musical (Roundhouse Productions), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Spectralia Theatre), Jesus Camp (Cornservatory), Perfect Wedding and Secrets of a Soccer Mom (Towle Theater), and No Sex Please, We're British (JPAC). Stephanie also works as a private vocal coach, sings with The Moxie Sisters and The Bangers, and is a fiber artist and cross-stitch designer. (StephXstitch.com)