ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar
Tenth Anniversary Season!
Underscore Theatre Company Presents the World Premiere of
NOTES & LETTERS
Directed by Leah Geis
Music Direction by Anna Wegener
Choreography by Ebrin R. Stanley
May 10 – 28, 2022 at the Richard Christiansen Theater
Underscore Theatre Company celebrates its tenth anniversary season with the world premiere of Notes & Letters featuring book, music and lyrics by Annabelle Lee Revak (she/her), based on letters Revak’s great-great grandfather Joe Loula sent to his family upon his immigration to Chicago from Eastern Europe. Originally slated to open in the spring of 2020, the musical is directed by Leah Geis (she/they), with music direction by Anna Wegener (she/her) and choreography by Ebrin R. Stanley (he/him). Notes & Letters will play May 10 – 28, 2022 at the Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Tickets are currently available at victorygardens.org, by calling (773) 871-3000 or in person at The Biograph Theater Box Office, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. I'll be out for the press opening Thursday, May 12th, so check back soon for my full review.
The cast includes Katy Campbell (she/her), Caitlin Dobbins (she/her), Sam Martin (he/him) and Michael Mejia (they/them). Understudies include Aaron Reese Boseman (he/him), Nate Hall (he/him), Jamie Redwood (she/her) and Jasmine Robertson (she/her).
Notes & Letters follows Joe’s journey from war-torn Prague to Williams Piano Shop in Chicago in 1917. He quickly befriends the owner Charlie, his girlfriend Nora and composer Olivia. The foursome become inseparable – until World War I hits the U.S. Businesses, relationships and lives are put to the test. Based on a true story and set to a jazz-contemporary score, four young people struggle to make choices amid complete chaos.
Comments Underscore Artistic Director Whitney Rhodes, "We are proud and grateful to complete the development process we've been on with Notes & Letters now for over four years. Annabelle has written a charming and heartfelt story that is ultimately about friendship in times of complex outside change. While the show is set in the early 1900s, the themes are so present and alive in this moment. Its catchy score will leave you humming and the honest storytelling will leave you hopeful – which I think we all crave as we return to the theater. I'm grateful that Leah, Anna and Ebrin have all stayed with the project and am thrilled to welcome many new faces to our production team to work alongside a few of our stalwart designers. Plus, Notes & Letters had its very first workshop reading at the Richard Christiansen Theater, so this is a true full circle moment."
The production team includes Rebekah Clark (scenic design, they/she), Christina Leinicke (costume design, she/her), Benjamin Carne (lighting design, he/him), Timothy McNulty (sound design, he/him), Kathryn Healy (props design, she/her), Aaron Jamieson Roberts (dramaturg, he/him), Lauren Peters (production manager, she/her), Ben Lipinski (technical director, he/him) and Abby Teel (stage manager, she/her).
Cast (in alphabetical order) Katy Campbell (Olivia, she/her), Caitlin Dobbins (Nora, she/her), Sam Martin (Joe, he/him) and Michael Mejia (Charlie, they/them). Understudies: Aaron Reese Boseman (he/him), Nate Hall (he/him), Jamie Redwood (she/her) and Jasmine Robertson (she/her).
Location: Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago
Dates: Previews: Tuesday, May 10 at 7:30 pm and Wednesday, May 11 at 7:30 pm
Press performance: Thursday, May 12 at 7:30 pm (also open to the general public).
Regular run: Friday, May 13 – Saturday, May 28, 2022
Curtain Times: Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2 pm. Please note: there will be added performances on Wednesday, May 25 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, May 28 at 2 pm.
Tickets: $32 general admission. Discounts (available via telephone or in person at the box office): $25 preview performances, $28 group, $27 senior, $22 military/first responder, $20 industry, $15 student. Tickets are currently available at victorygardens.org, by calling (773) 871-3000 or in person at The Biograph Theater Box Office, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago.
PHOTO CREDIT: The cast of Underscore Theatre Company’s world premiere of Notes & Letters includes (top, l to r) Katy Campbell, Caitlin Dobbins, Sam Martin and Michael Mejia (bottom, l to r) Aaron Reese Boseman, Nate Hall, Jamie Redwood and Jasmine Robertson.
About the Artists:
Annabelle Lee Revak (Book, Music and Lyrics, she/her) is a musical theatre composer, lyricist, playwright and music director. Her shows include Train on Fire (MTFest UK 2022); Notes & Letters (Underscore Theatre Company, Chicago Musical Theatre Festival); Windsong, a folk opera (Flatiron Arts); Starfall (Music Institute Chicago); and The Voodoo Queen (Breaking and Entering, Co-writer Aaron Cooper). Columbia College Chicago (BA Musical Theatre/BA Music Composition) and University of Wolverhampton (MA Research in the Performing Arts). @annabelleleerevak annabelleleerevak.com
Leah Geis (Director, she/they) is thrilled to finally stage Notes and Letters after the theatre's prolonged break! Originally from rural Nebraska, Leah freelanced primarily in musical theatre as a director and stage manager for five years before making the move to Chicago. As a director, Leah has developed new works that focus on women and LGBT+ topics at both Pride Arts and Otherworld Theatre. Stage management credits include Proxy (Underscore Theatre), Always...Patsy Cline (Firebrand Theatre) and Little Women (Brown Paper Box Co.) Leah is grateful for patrons who supported the arts through the pandemic and for coming back out as soon as we could safely open our doors again. IG: @leahrgeis. leahgeis.com
Anna Wegener (Music Director, Performance Pianist, she/her) returns to Underscore Theatre after Music Directing Ripped! with Underscore Develops in 2021 and several Tiny Storefront Concerts. She teaches, directs and performs in the Chicago-area. Recent shows include Guys and Dolls and Something Rotten (Theatre Nebula), Beauty and the Beast (MOS) and The Things I Could Never Tell Steven (PrideArts). Thanks to the production team, cast, crew, and the audience! A special thank you to Annabelle Revak for creating this incredible world to live in during each performance. 88keysacc.com
Ebrin R. Stanley (Choreographer & Artistic Consultant, he/him) was born and raised in Houston, TX. He graduated from the University of South Dakota with a B.F.A in Musical Theatre in 2017 and a minor in Dance. Ebrin has directed and choreographed many productions for the Children's Museum of Houston. In December 2017, Ebrin was given the chance to co-write, direct and choreograph Home for the Holidays, a children's musical in Houston. In January 2018, he starred in the world premiere of Dead Meat, a workshop performance written by Paige Zubel. Later that year, he landed the role of Hercules Mulligan/James Madison in Hamilton: An American Musical (Chicago). In 2019, Ebrin arranged two medleys that were performed at the hit music festival, Lollapalooza. Performing his original music all over Chicago, Ebrin got the chance to headline his first concert “The Reality of Love and Life with Ebrin R. Stanley” in February 2020. He has produced music for artists from New York, Houston and Chicago. During the Pandemic, Ebrin has had the privilege of composing an original score for the award-winning web series Neighbors, which is streaming now on Broadstream. He has since returned to Hamilton with the opening company in Los Angeles. Ebrin would like to thank his family for always supporting him and God for always blessing him. Remember that All Black Lives Matter. Instagram: @ebrinrstanley Twitter: @ebrinrstanley Music can be found on all streaming platforms under the name Ebrin R. Stanley.
About Underscore Theatre Company
Founded in 2011, Underscore Theatre Company is a team of producing artists dedicated to exploring stories of power and resonance through a musical lens; fostering the development of new musicals; and bolstering Chicago’s role as a national leader in musical theatre. Since its creation, Underscore has produced or co-produced 65 new mainstage and workshop musicals in Chicago. Underscore is proud to be Chicago's home for new musicals. underscoretheatre.org
Underscore Theatre Company recognizes its accountability to the systems that have failed our communities of Black, Indigenous and People of Color. We are grateful for the work of those behind the “We See You, White American Theatre” vision for laying the groundwork of what a more equitable industry can be and are committed to being a part of the change. We align with their principles and are holding ourselves accountable to anti-racism practices as a part of our current strategic planning process supporting the development of new musical theater.
Land Acknowledgement: Chicago is the traditional homeland of over a dozen different tribes including the Council of Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawotami nations, as well as the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Fox, and the Illinois Confederacy of the Peoria and Kaskaskia nations. In 1830 Congress forcibly stripped these tribes of their land by passing the Indian Removal Act which led to relocation, poverty, and starvation.